Soros Drops Out of AIPAC Counter-Lobby Project
George Soros, after writing a blistering NY Review of Books essay slamming AIPAC’s pernicious influence on U.S. Mideast policy, disappointed liberal Jews by announcing he would not fund a project simmering over the past six months to create a Jewish counter-lobby to AIPAC:
Billionaire George Soros has no plans to put his money where his mouth is, a spokesman said Tuesday — two days after the philanthropist and political advocate assailed the pro-Israel lobby as a threat to Israeli and U.S. interests.
Rumors, rife since last October, that Soros would fund a dovish alternative to the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee, quickened when Soros published a blistering attack on the lobby in the New York Review of Books this week. But Soros spokesman Michael Vachon rebutted the notion he would bankroll such an effort.
“He considered it,” said Vachon. “Many people wanted him to fund the effort. In the end he decided he should not be involved.
“On the other hand,” Vachon added, “Who can predict the future?”
That last statement is impossibly coy for me. I say, if you’re in get in; if you’re out, get out. Don’t do a Mario Cuomo Hamlet soliloquy. There’s already more than enough vacillation among key players in this conflict. We don’t need more of the same from Soros.
I can’t say that I’m surprised since on the day Soros’ NYRB essay was published I asked an inside DC source what role the essay played in his strategy regarding the counter-lobby project. The reply came back: “He’s out.”
Soros’ supposed reasoning for dropping out also isn’t fully convincing:
Vachon cited Soros’ lack of prior involvement in Jewish life as the prime reason for his decision. The 76-year-old Jewish hedge fund manager and prominent donor to liberal and Democratic causes has not been a major player in Jewish affairs over his long career, he said.
“He feels he would not have the necessary standing in the community,” said Vachon. “Some people might even be put off by his involvement in such an effort.”
It is certainly true that Martin Peretz will use this argument against Soros and others as well. But since when do we act according to what our enemies say? Since when do they determine the agenda? I’m guessing that Soros himself doesn’t feel the personal commitment to getting as deeply involved in internal Jewish communal politics as he would have to in order to really make the kind of impact that is necessary to take on AIPAC. I can’t say as I fully blame him. How many times can one bear being called a Hitler sympathizer because at the age of 12 you pretended to be a Christian and were sheltered by a government official who confiscated Jewish property?
But still, Soros’ withdrawal is terribly unfortunate. Many of us have that commitment but not the wherewithal to back it up. That’s what Soros would’ve brought to the table.
All I can say is that I somehow hope the initiative continues and proves viable and that somehow Soros is persuaded that it is the right thing to do and that he gets on board. “Ride on the peace train,” George.
I find Larry Cohler Esses’ work in Jewish Week to be impeccably incisive and lacking in the cant one can find in Jewish media outlets like JTA. But this passage, which followed his list of liberal writers who’d recently attacked AIPAC seemed oddly snarky and churlish:
Still, the cottage industry of criticism in the public square by these writers raises oxymoronic questions about their claims of suppression.
Besides the imprecise use of the term oxymoronic without clearly noting what he was referring to, he seems to say that the plethora of criticism of AIPAC gives the lie to the liberal complaint that the Israel lobby suppresses speech it views as anti-Israel. What this ignores is the clear evidence of multiple recent incidents of intimidation to silence or punish Israel critics chronicled here at this blog (Judt, Beinin, Kushner, Khalidi, Massad, Cole, etc.) and elsewhere online. It also neglects the possible explanation that perhaps liberal writers and those media which publish them are becoming less intimidated by the lobby’s reach and are showing some willingness to buck their wrath.
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I have been puzzled by allegations of muzzling critics of Israel. Many US politicians have had great careers while disliking Israel. Cynthia McKinney was popular in part because she hated Israel, and would still be in Washington had she not self destructed. Other politicians who have been successful include US Reps Ron Paul, Mary Rose Oakar, Paul FIndley, and Jim Moran from Virginia. The people you mention-Kushner, Khalidid, Massad, Cole, Judt, Beinin, Reinhardt have all had successful careers. The only reason I know of these people is because not only are they opposed to the occupation, they are opposed to the existence of a Jewish state. So they lost a couple of speaking engagements. This is very little compared with the snowballs chance in hell anyone who is pro-Israel (even left wing pro-Israel) getting tenure in a Middle East studies department.
After Martin Buber made it to Palestine, he declared in 1938, that further immigration to Palestine required the consent of the Arabs. Of course, the Arabs were represented by Hajj Amin el Husseini, who later participated personally in the Holocaust. Given that Professor Buber knew what was happening in Germany, he was hypocritical in immigrating to Palestine without Arab consent, while in his opinion, ordinary Jews required Arab consent
Whatever vices or weaknesses Cynthia McKinney may’ve had, her defeat was helped along immensely by tons of money poured into the campaign by pro-Israel PACs which never participated in this particular campaign district before & prob. never will again.
As for the individuals I listed: Khalidi was savagely attacked by Princeton pro-Israel alums when he was up for a Chair there. As a result, he stayed at Columbia where he is also savagely attacked. The David Project & other hardline pro-Israel supporters have made an industry of attacking Massad and the Columbia Mideast studies program for its alleged anti-Israel focus. The David Project pests attacked Brandeis for awarding Tony Kushner an honorary degree. Pro-Israel Yale alumni lobbied the Yale history faculty & administration to withdraw the offer of an endowed history chair to Cole. After the chair was offered to him it was withdrawn. Judt was invited to speak at the Polish consulate in NY & the invitation withdrawn after personal intercession fr. Abe Foxman & David Harris. Beinin was invited to speak at the Harker School in San Jose & the invitation was withdrawn after pressure orchestrated by the Silicon Valley JCRC. Reinhart even in death is savaged by Kahanist goons. You can call it muzzling, call it whatever you want. It’s despicable behavior & unfortunately par for the course coming from the pro-Israel hardliners.
Their reputations have been sullied by wicked calumnies. Academic appointments have been withdrawn. That’s far more serious than loss of a mere speaking engagement though this is a very serious matter if you believe in freedom of speech even for those you disagree with. You’re so absolutely ignorant about the state of Mideast studies in this country. There are countless tenured faculty members who are strong supporters of Israel. And if you are informed on this topic pls. give me an example of someone who was specifically denied tenure because their political views were deemed too right of center on Israel. You’ve been drinkin’ too much of David Horowitz’ Kool Aid.
Martin Buber couldn’t “declare” anything since he wasn’t a politician or policymaker, but rather a philosophy professor. Pls. do not make accusations against anyone including historical figures w/o providing a link to authenticate yr charges.
More historical ignorance. How did he “participate personally in the Holocaust?” Was he a concentration camp commandant? SS member? Or did he operate a camp from his home in Jerusalem?
You are such a snarky know nothing. He emigrated to Palestine in the 1910s. If he truly believed Jewish immigration should be limited in 1938 (which I by no means grant is true till you provide proof) would you have had him return to Germany? Don’t be preposterous.
And how did Buber know what was happening in German in 1938? You mean to tell me that you think Jews throughout the world knew in 1938 what would happen in 1943-45 in terms of death camps & Holocaust? What utter nonsense.
Here is the Wikipedia entry on al Husseini and the Holocaust. He played a major role
Propaganda and recruitment
Al-Husayni salutes the recruits on the cover of magazine “Vienna Illustrated”Until the end of the World War II, al-Husayni worked for the Nazi Germany as a propagandist for the Arabs and a recruiter of Muslim volunteers for the German armed forces. Beginning in 1943, al-Husayni was involved in the organization and recruitment of Bosnian Muslims into several divisions of the Waffen SS and other units. The largest was the 13th “Handschar” division of 21,065 men (sometimes spelled Hanjar: the word Scimitar in Turkish, Arabic Khanjar خنجر), which conducted operations against Communist partisans in the Balkans from February 1944.
Al-Husayni insisted that “The most important task of this division must be to protect the homeland and families (of the Bosnian volunteers); the division must not be permitted to leave Bosnia.”, but this request was ignored by the Germans (German archives cited in Lepre, p34).
On March 1, 1944, while speaking on Radio Berlin, al-Husayni said:
Arabs, rise as one man and fight for your sacred rights. Kill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases God, history, and religion. This saves your honor. God is with you.
The Mufti’s knowledge about the Holocaust while living in Nazi Germany has been debated with the Mufti himself denying any such knowledge after the war. Testimony presented at the Nuremberg trials, however, accused the Mufti of not only having knowledge about the holocaust but of also actively encouraging the initiation of extermination programs against European Jews. Adolf Eichmann’s deputy Dieter Wisliceny testified during his war crimes trial in 1946 that … “The Mufti was one of the initiators of the systematic extermination of European Jewry and had been a collaborator and adviser of Eichmann and Himmler in the execution of this plan… He was one of Eichmann’s best friends and had constantly incited him to accelerate the extermination measures. I heard him say, accompanied by Eichmann, he had visited incognito the gas chambers of Auschwitz.”
When the Red Cross offered to mediate with Adolf Eichmann in a trade prisoner-of-war exchange involving the freeing of German citizens in exchange for 5,000 Jewish children being sent from Poland to the Theresienstadt concentration camp, Husseini directly intervened with Himmler and the exchange was cancelled. The letters sent on June 28, 1943 to Hungarian and Romanian governments, allied to Nazi Germany at the time, urging them to refuse to save Jewish refugees can be found here.
Among the sabotage al-Husayni organized was an attempted chemical warfare assault on the second largest and predominantly Jewish city in Palestine, Tel Aviv. Five parachutists were sent with a toxin to dump into the water system. The police caught the infiltrators in a cave near Jericho, and according to Jericho district police commander Fayiz Bey Idrissi, “The laboratory report stated that each container held enough poison to kill 25,000 people, and there were at least ten containers.”.
In his memoirs after the war, Husayni noted that “Our fundamental condition for cooperating with Germany was a free hand to eradicate every last Jew from Palestine and the Arab world. I asked Hitler for an explicit undertaking to allow us to solve the Jewish problem in a manner befitting our national and racial aspirations and according to the scientific methods innovated by Germany in the handling of its Jews. The answer I got was: ‘The Jews are yours.’”
Recent Nazi documents uncovered in the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Military Archive Service in Freiburg  by two researchers, Klaus Michael Mallmann from Stuttgart University and Martin Cüppers from the University of Ludwigsburg, indicated that in the event of the British being defeated in Egypt by Field Marshal Erwin Rommel’s Afrika Korps the Nazis had planned to deploy a special unit called Einsatzkommando Ägypten to exterminate Palestinian Jews and that they wanted Arab support to prevent the emergence of a Jewish state. In their book the researchers concluded that, “the most important collaborator with the Nazis and an absolute Arab anti-Semite was Haj Amin al-Husseini, the mufti of Jerusalem”. According to the German researchers Husayni was a prime example of how Arabs and Nazis became friends out of a hatred of Jews. Al-Husseini had met several times with Adolf Eichmann, Adolf Hitler’s chief architect of the Holocaust  ,,,,.
Here are enitries from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Of interest, its notes that Buber emmigrated to Palestine in 1937, not 1910 as you claim. In addition, it notes that he opposed Jewish immigration. If things were so wonderful in the German fatherland, why did he immigrate, and why is immigration good for him, but not for the masses of unwashed Jews?
Recruited by his older compatriot, the Budapest-born and Vienna-based journalist Theodor Herzl, Buber briefly edited the main paper of the Zionist party, Die Welt, but soon found a more congenial place in the ‘democratic faction’ led by Chaim Weizmann, then living in Zurich. Buber’s phases of engagement in the movement’s political institutions alternated with extended phases of disengagement, but he never ceased to write and speak about what he understood to be the distinctive Jewish brand of nationalism. Buber seems to have derived an important lesson from the early struggles between political and cultural Zionism for the leadership and direction of the movement. He realized that his place was not in high diplomacy and political education but in the search for psychologically sound foundations on which to heal the rift between modernist realpolitik and a distinctively Jewish theological-political tradition. Very much in keeping with the nineteenth-century Protestant yearning for a Christian foundation of the nation-state, Buber sought a healing source in the integrating powers of the religious experience.
After a hiatus of more than ten years during which Buber spoke to Jewish youth groups (most famously the Prague Bar Kokhba) but refrained from any practical involvement in Zionist politics, he reentered Zionist debates in 1916 when he began publishing the journal Der Jude which served as an open forum of exchange on any issues related to cultural and political Zionism. In 1921 Buber attended the Zionist Congress in Carlsbad as a delegate of the socialist Hashomer Hatzair (“the young guard”). In debates following violent riots in 1928 and 29 on whether to arm the Jewish settlers in Palestine Buber represented the pacifist option; in debates on immigration quotas following the 1936 Arab boycott Buber argued for demographic parity rather than trying to achieve a Jewish majority. Finally, as a member of Brit Shalom Buber argued for a bi-national rather than for a Jewish state in Palestine
Ill bet Professor Klocek would trade career places with Joel Beinin or Tony Judt
Some questionable personnel decisions
De Paul University has suspended a professor for engaging in a heated debate with some students outside of class. Last September, Thomas Klocek got into an argument with some pro-Palestinian students at a student activities fair. When they complained to administrators, he was suspended without ever seeing copies of the complaints or having an opportunity to face his accusers; in other words, he was suspended while being denied the due process rights that Du Paul claims to guarantee to professors. De Paul was at first astonishingly open about the fact that it is engaging in viewpoint discrimination; administrators there initially said that Klocek is being punished because he criticized the students’ viewpoint and thereby offended them, though they are now more cagily arguing that Klocek is being disciplined for unprofessional behavior. FIRE is defending Klocek.
Herbert: I am simply uninterested in reading thousands of words in published comments. The purpose of a comment is to make a short succinct argument & not to teach a graduate seminar on a particular subject. Pls. do not quote entire passages fr sources. Just enough quotation to make yr pt. will do nicely.
As for Husseini, he is irrelevant to anything in this blog. You brought him up in connection with Buber. I didn’t & I have nothing to say about what you’ve mentioned. He appears to have been a wicked dude. But he exercised next to no lasting impact on Israel, Zionism or even Palestinian nationalism except as a historical footnote.
Thanks for correcting my statement about Buber’s immigration. I assumed that since he belonged to Brit Shalom, which was based at the Hebrew Univ. in Jerusalem, that he had to have already made aliyah when the group formed in the 1910s. Martin Buber could not have been an avowed Zionist & be opposed to Jewish immmigration as you claim. A Zionist believes in the ingathering of the exiles. How could there be any ingathering if he opposed Jewish immigration?
As for your professor, first again you haven’t provided a source so I have no way of judging where this info comes fr. & whether it is reliable. Second, you stated that professors cannot get tenure if they are pro-Israel. Your incident does not involve denial of tenure. I have no idea of what happened during this incident so I cannot say anything further about which side, if any is justified.
I think that Hajj Amin el Husseini is relevant to your blog for the following reasons. As someone who strives for peace, it is important to recognize the malign influence that Husseini has had on the peace process. As the most influential Palestinian leader in the pre-1948 period, he never accepted any possibility of sharing of the land, a sentiment that persists in many Palestinian circles until this day. Palestinians also claim that they are being punished for the Holocaust, in which they had no part. Husseini’s career as a Nazi activist in Europe rebuts this popular claim, which has been made by Ahmadinejad recently.
As you said, Husseini was influential in the pre-48 period which takes us back 60 yrs.
This is patently untrue & you haven’t been reading polls of Palestinian opinion if you believe this. The majority of Palestinians accept a territorial compromise which would include an Israeli state. There may be a minority who do not share such a view, but they are a distinct minority. That is why Husseini’s views are an interesting footnote to history, but not very significant beyond that.
ONE Palestinian leader played a role in the Holocuast. That does not tar the entire people with the brush of being genocidal murderers. I have heard of very few Palestinians who have embraced the pro-genocide views of Husseini.