George Soros, like many megalomaniacs, particularly the wealthiest ones, likes to keep his hands in those enterprises in which he invests. As he has turned over more of the day to day operations of his Quantum hedge fund to his sons, Soros has stepped up his involvement in a variety of political activities directed towards his principal political goals- weakening and undermining George Bush, pressuring Israel to negotiate with, and make concessions to Hamas, and shifting America's political trajectory sharply left. Soros' interest in Israel has become much more visible in recent months. He was rumored to be a behind the scenes funding source for the creation of a new group which would be an alternative to AIPAC, the principal American lobbying group on US relations with Israel, and has called for Israel to negotiate with Hamas leaders in an article in the virulently anti-Israel New York Review of Books.. Now, another of the many left wing groups Soros has funded, The Center For American Progress, has begun a new initiative to produce an alternative to the Daily Alert, a roundup of articles on Israel, Jewish life, Iran, radical Islam, and the Iraq war that is sent by email to a large list of over 100,000 people. The impetus for the creation of the alternative email, the Middle East Bulletin, which will be a thrice weekly email on the same subjects, is that the Daily Alert, produced for the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, is too far to the right. Evidence of this for its critics, is that the Daily Alert is prepared by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs headed by Dr. Dore Gold, former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations when Benjamin Netanyahu was Israel's Prime Minister from 1996 to 1999. The fact that the Conference of Presidents includes groups from across the political spectrum is ignored by its critics. Some of the groups supporting the new alternative email are represented on the Conference. As to the charge that the Daily Alert is a right wing mouthpiece, this much is true: unlike many of those associated with the new Center for American Progress email newsletter on the Middle East, the Daily Alert is clearly in Israel's corner. Those who prepare the Daily Alert, and presumably its many readers, care deeply whether Israel survives. On this subject, George Soros and many of his allies lose no sleep. The Daily Alert is concerned with the Iranian nuclear program, Hamas' military buildup in Gaza, Hezb'allah's continuing threat in the North, the actions of radical Islamists around the globe, and the calls for the destruction of Israel, America and the Jews that are repeatedly broadcast in mosques, and on the media, and in schools in the Palestinian territories, and in Muslim countries around the world. The Daily Alert provides evidence each day that there are real threats from Islamic radicalism to Israel and to Jews and others in many countries. Some of the groups that are providing material for the Middle East Bulletin, Americans for Peace Now, Brit Tsedek v Shalom, Ameinu, and the Israel Policy Forum, believe their principal enemies to be Israeli settlers and their right wing allies in the Likud Party, and hawkish American Jewish supporters of Israel, and their Christian evangelical allies. Their thesis is that Israel's Arab enemies would disappear if Israel only withdrew from the West Bank and reached a peace deal with all the Palestinian moderates clamoring for such a conflict resolution. Evidence for this presumably must be the way Hezb'allah became friendly after Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000, and the way Gaza became pacified after Israel withdrew and dismantled settlements in the summer of 2005. Additional support for this thesis must be the way the supposedly moderate PA walked out of Camp David, rejecting President Clinton's best efforts at peace making in the summer of 2000 and started a second and far deadlier intifada just months later.
The peace groups on the left believe the key to getting Israel to withdraw from the West Bank is changing the policies of the American government, so that it becomes more balanced between Israel and the Palestinians. In short, the leftwing Jewish groups believe America should be neutral between Israel and those who have provided every bit of evidence one might require over 60 years that they want to destroy Israel.
One of the individuals who has attacked the Daily Alert, Gidon Remba, executive director of Ameinu, the Labor Zionist Alliance, argued that Daily Alert is being used by opponents of the two-state vision. "I view it as a kind of propaganda that is intended to strengthen the regressive forces in the Jewish community." Remba is an individual so afraid of hurting the feelings of Palestinians that upon the death of Yassar Arafat, he told the Chicago Tribune that Arafat was a man who had been involved in some terror attacks, but had also saved Jewish lives during the 90s. In other words, collaborating on the planning and financing of terror attacks, and then alerting the Israelis about a few of them, meant for Remba that Arafat saved Jewish lives.
The obsession among leftist Jews with Israel's right wing is also evident in the comments of M. J. Rosenberg, another lifelong believer in the God of the moderate Palestinian: "It [the Daily Alert]," is very skewed to the right said M.J. Rosenberg, Israel Policy Forum's director of policy analysis. IPF is an American Jewish advocacy group that supports intensive American efforts to help secure a two-state solution. "When you read it, you get the feeling it is coming from the Israeli right wing and from the Jewish right wing."
Other comments echoed these: "It is as if there is no peace process, as if there is no one in Israel who supports dialogue with the Palestinians," said an official of one Jewish group. According to another Jewish group official, Daily Alert consistently emphasizes threats to Israel while ignoring peace overtures by Israelis and Arabs.
The latest version of the Saudi "Peace Plan", calling for a 100% Israeli evacuation from all territory captured in the 67 war, as well as addressing the Palestinian right of return, is the "good deal" now being offered on a take it or leave it basis by the Saudis. This is apparently the new lodestone for peace making in the region for the Israeli and Jewish American left.
The Center for American Progress is an interesting organization. Some have referred to it as the shadow Clinton White House, a place keeper for Clinton acolytes to wait until their power is restored after the 2008 Presidential election and the ascension of Hillary Clinton. The Center has been run since its creation in 2003 by John Podesta, former Chief of Staff in the Clinton White House, and other former Clinton administration figures are also working for or are affiliated with the Center. David Horowitz has identified some of the Clinton linkages: "'Persistent press leaks confirm that Hillary Clinton, and not Podesta, is ultimately in charge of CAP. It's the official Hillary Clinton think tank,' an inside source confided to Christian Bourge of United Press International. Robert Dreyfuss notes in The Nation, 'In looking at Podesta's center, there's no escaping the imprint of the Clintons. It's not completely wrong to see it as a shadow government, a kind of Clinton White-House-in-exile -- or a White House staff in readiness for President Hillary Clinton.' Dreyfuss notes the abundance of Clintonites on the Center's staff, among them Clinton's national security speechwriter Robert Boorstin; Democratic Leadership Council staffer and former head of Clinton's National Economic Council Gene Sperling; former senior advisor to Clinton's Office of Management and Budget Matt Miller; and others.
"In addition to the aforementioned individuals, CAP's key personnel also includes Director of Media Strategy Debbie Berger, daughter of Clinton national security chief Sandy Berger; Sarah Rosen Wartell, who serves as Senior Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, and General Counsel; Mark David Agrast, Senior Vice President for Domestic Policy; and Robert O. Boorstin, Senior Vice President for National Security and International Policy."
Since its founding, the Center has been far more involved in day to day partisan politics than in the activities normally associated with the think tank world. One of its units, a group called Media Matters, run by former conservative and serial fabricator David Brock, has become little more than a daily attempt to attack the credibility of anybody who appears on the Fox News Channel, conservative talk radio, or offers conservative commentary in other media venues.
So the question arises: If the Center for American Progress is in fact a Clintonian organization, why is it associating itself with a very soft dovish, and utterly unrealistic position on the Israeli Palestinian conflict? In her campaign to date for the White House, Mrs. Clinton has tried to position herself as a champion of Israel and a more reliable protector of Israel's interests than the untested Barack Obama, her principal opponent at the moment, whose political leanings may lie further to the left. When Obama told a small group in Iowa that nobody had suffered more than the Palestinians (tell that to those in Darfur, or Zaire, or Rwanda, or the Kurds, or Tibetans), that suggested a tendency to reflexively sympathize with the weaker party, or the perceived victim in a conflict, whatever the contribution that party may have made to its own suffering.
To the extent the Center for American Progress is seen as a Soros front, it is not at all surprising that it is looking for new ways to influence the debate on Israel in this country in a direction inimical to recent US policy. But to the extent it is also seen as tied to the Clintons, it may be a way for Mrs. Clinton, to signal to some on the left that she is not a captive of the right wing pro-Israel community, and will be more open minded on the subject should she be elected.
Mrs. Clinton was not viewed as very pro-Israel when she ran for the Senate in 2000 (barely winning half of the Jewish vote in a race against a political unknown, Congressman Rick Lazio), and spent much of her first term building up her bona fides with the pro-Israel community in a state where 10% of the population is Jewish. But in the current political climate surrounding the Democratic nomination fight, Mrs. Clinton is viewed by the agitated and aggressive anti-Iraq war left as having been an enthusiastic advocate for that war in 2002 and 2003.
One of the new litmus tests for anti-war advocates is to also be unsympathetic to Israel (to put it in the most delicate terms You need to see the signs at rallies or read the posts at moveon.org or dailykos.com to gauge the real hatred for Israel on the left). Many on the left would be happy if Israel disappeared. Could Mrs. Clinton, through the Center for American Progress, be signaling to the anti-war left that while she can not reverse her vote on the original Iraq war resolution, that she can create a new policy towards Israel and the Palestinians if elected?
It is hard to see how a very calculating woman, as Mrs. Clinton surely is, could put herself in a position of seeming to endorse the most naive aspirations and worldviews of the left wing Israeli and American peace camp. There are many reasons why this community has been marginalized in Israeli politics, but the biggest is that they have been consistently wrong in believing a partner for peace existed among the Palestinians. Like a subway rider who becomes a law and order enthusiast after getting mugged, many Israelis saw the second Palestinian intifada as bursting the euphoric balloon about the potential for ending the conflict in short order through negotiations. Of course, there are many in academia, and the media already fighting hard to shift American policy on the conflict despite strong support for Israel in this country.
Someone should ask Mrs. Clinton if she believes the Daily Alert is a right wing broadside, and whether there is need for a new information source to get other ideas heard on the conflict. We already know what George Soros thinks on the matter.
Richard Baehr is chief political correspondent of American Thinker.