I have to say, there is something definitively creepy about how keen folks are to echo the “shadowy Jewish financier” trope when it comes to Mr. Soros. It is obviously disconcerting that J Street has not been entirely forthcoming about its relationship with Mr. Soros. But I remain deeply distressed at the all-too-common anti-Semitism that is directed at Mr. Soros for daring to be a Jew with money who backs causes. It’s very “J Street, backed by the Jewish money it didn’t tell you about ….”
One should not have to agree with Mr. Soros or J Street on everything -- indeed, on anything -- to find the position Mr. Soros has been cast into in our society to be profoundly disconcerting. I don't begrudge J Street's opponents for seizing on this misstep to try and score points against it. That's how politics works. But they do, I think, have an obligation not to contribute to what is by all lights classic anti-Semitic imagery of Mr. Soros' role in society. I find the "shadowy Jewish financier" narrative considerably more creepy than I do J Street's financial misstatements.
That being said, let's be clear: J Street misled us here, and that's a problem. And I'm not convinced that the statement Mr. Ben-Ami put out shows that he gets it. While purporting to "take responsibility" for misleading the public, Ben-Ami rapidly pivots to allege that the folks attacking J Street are "not good government watchdogs concerned about the state of non-profit financing in the United States," but simply opposing partisans seizing the opportunity for a some cheap points.
To which I say, so what? Yes, J Street has some powerful enemies, who will take non-existent crimes (much less real mistakes, as here) and blow them up into epic crimes against humanity. In this, J Street is reminiscent of another rather prominent Jewish institution that also complains, not without justification, of unfair treatment from the surrounding community. But guess what -- they knew they lived in that world, and I expected them to behave accordingly. You can either cry about the refs being biased, or you can raise your game. Just because the rules aren't fair doesn't give you an excuse to make it amateur hour. Obvious errors like this betray a fundamental lack of seriousness ill-befitting of the gravity of the problems J Street is trying to solve.
I still support J Street because I still think they fundamentally have the right idea for what will make Israel and Palestine safe and secure now and in the future. But today, they've embarrassed all of those -- myself included (and I don't have a problem associated with Mr. Soros) -- who stood up for them and have worked to make them a viable player in the American pro-Israel community.
The Forward's excellent editorial on the matter is also worth reading.
NOTE: Folks whose comments I've previously identified as choking off the oxygen of my comments section will refrain from posting in this thread.