Is the discovery of George Soros’ donations to J Street beginning to take its political toll?
Early signs from the race in Illinois 9th congressional district may indicate that the answer is positive.
Democratic congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, who was endorsed by J StreetPAC and received campaign donations from them, is now openly criticizing the dovish lobby because of the Soros affair.
In a statement to the Forward Schakowsky said she is “extremely disappointed that J Street wasn’t up front about their funding.” J Street, scolded the Jewish lawmaker, needs “to be very clear and open about who their donors are.”
Schakowsky’s statement came in response to calls from her Republican rival Joel Pollak who demanded that his Democratic rival “give back the J Street cash.”
Schakowsky, although critical of J Street, made clear, however, that she does not intend to break her ties with the dovish lobby. “I don’t always agree with J Street and I don’t always agree with George Soros. However, I do agree on the need for the space in the pro-Israel community for vigorous debate,” she said in her statement.
Pollak of Illinois was not the only Republican to try and cash in on the J Street – Soros issue.
In Pennsylvania, where the Senate race has repeatedly touched on the issues relating to support for Israel, the campaign of Republican Pat Toomey has called on Democratic candidate Joe Sestak to cut his ties with J Street because of the group’s ties to George Soros. “Sestak says he’s pro-Israel, but at some point, his consistent alignment with the likes of George Soros, MoveOn.Org, CAIR, and J Street makes that claim just flat-out not believable,” said Toomey’s communications director Nachama Soloveichik.
Sestak’s campaign did not return calls seeking comment on this issue.
Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street’s executive director makes an important point on this matter: The money both Schakowsky and Sestak received was from J StreetPAC, the dovish lobby’s sister organization. George Soros’s donation went to J Street itself, so at least technically speaking, they did not receive any Soros money through J Street.
Nathan Guttman, staff writer, was the Forward’s Washington bureau chief. He joined the staff in 2006 after serving for five years as Washington correspondent for the Israeli dailies Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post. In Israel, he was the features editor for Ha’aretz and chief editor of Channel 1 TV evening news. He was born in Canada and grew up in Israel. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
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