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Dovish PAC in place by April

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A political action committee that will back candidates who pledge support for dovish pro-Israel policies will be in place by next month.

Sources close to the so-called “J Street Project” confirmed a New York Jewish Week report published Wednesday about the proposed political action committee.

“For too long, the loudest American voices in political and policy debates have been those on the far right — often Republican neo-conservatives or extreme Christian Zionists,” the Jewish Week quotes an invitation to a fund-raiser for the group as saying. “J Street aims to change that. We are the first and only lobby and PAC (political action committee) dedicated to ensuring Israel’s security, changing the direction of American policy in the Middle East and opening up American political debate about Israel and the Middle East.”

The effort will be headed by Jeremy Ben Ami, a Clinton administration official who was behind an effort last year to unite dovish pro-Israel groups into a lobby that would compete with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. JTA’s revelations about that effort scuttled it, and Ben-Ami sought a different model that “wouldn’t step on the toes” of other pro-Israel groups, a source said.

He came up with the idea of fund-raising for candidates who back a more assertive U.S. posture in Middle East peacemaking.

The sources familiar with the “J Street Project” told JTA that, aside from Ben-Ami, its officers have yet to be named and its structure is still in flux. Its funders include Alan Solomont, the top-fundraiser for the presidential campaign of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) Other figures identified with the campaign of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) are also involved.

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