George Soros, fairness, and Happy Valley days


I posted a story on how J Street has, umm, fudged George Soros’ involvement over the years. I’m trying to be polite. (Kudos to Eli Lake at the Washington Times for the scoop.)

I’m also trying to be fair. Jeffrey Goldberg in this post at the Atlantic characterizes Soros as "George Soros, the billionaire investor whose hostility to Israel and Zionism is no secret."

Here’s Soros, writing in the New York Review of Books in 2007:

I am not a Zionist, nor am I am a practicing Jew, but I have a great deal of sympathy for my fellow Jews and a deep concern for the survival of Israel.

Not being a Zionist does not make one an anti-Zionist, and "deep concern for the survival" sounds kind of antonymous to "hostility."

Soros, like the organization we now know he funds, has views about Israel and the pro-Israel lobby that differ from the pro-Israel mainstream. Some of them seem flimsy. Eli, writing at the New York Sun in 2007, dismantles Soros’ claim in the same NYRB piece that Howard Dean’s call for "even-handedness" in the Middle East somehow had something to do with his not getting the nomination. (Dean didn’t get the nomination because John Kerry ran a much better primaries campaign, period.)

But, you know, a lot of "flimsy" crosses my virtual desk every day from the left, right and center. Flabby thinking does not necessarily evidence hostility, it evidences, well, flabby thinking.

The job we have is to show what arguments stand up, and which ones drift away. Jumping to ad hominem conclusions about the man making the argument is not just in itself flabby, it helps create a reality that Soros can use to underscore his point about the viciousness of the Israel lobby. It weirdly makes the vacuous less vacuous.

It’s like Vertigo. Jimmy Stewart didn’t really bring about Kim Novak’s death, and to prove it he… insert spoiler alert here. (I’m trying to figure out now if Jeffrey Goldberg gets the Jimmy Stewart role and Soros the Kim Novak role — and is Jeremy Ben-Ami that sleazy guy at the beginning? Never mind.)

Okay, now that I’ve veered into the absurd, let’s stay here. Ben Smith at Politico picks out the juicier tidbit in Eli’s reporting — who is the heretofore unknown Consolacion Ediscul of Hong Kong, who handed over $800,000 plus to the group in 2008? And is J Street really suggesting she wants to make the Middle East into a Happy Valley (the name of her suburb)?

Why yes, yes it is. Back to Eli:

When asked about Ms. Esdicul, the Happy Valley, Hong Kong based donor of nearly half the group’s revenue for the 2008 to 2009 fiscal year, Mr. Ben Ami said she gave J Street the money in multiple wire transfers at the urging of William Benter, a Pittsburgh-based philanthropist and the chief executive officer of Acusis, a medical services firm.

"She is trying to make the Middle East a Happy Valley," Mr. Ben Ami said. "She is a business associate of Bill Benter and Bill solicited her for the contribution." 

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