Response to Soros Op-Ed and RJC Attacks

February 4, 2011

J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami responds to George Soros’ recent op-ed in The Washington Post and the Republican Jewish Coalition’s misrepresentation of the op-ed and attacks on J Street and Soros:

The RJC misses the heart of George Soros’ response to the historic events unfolding in Egypt. Soros articulates a thoughtful argument for the U.S. getting out ahead of the transition to democracy in Egypt.

Even neoconservatives with whom J Street disagrees at times on Middle East policy like Elliot Abrams and Bill Kristol agree that the United States should be on the side of freedom and democracy in Egypt as the Mubarak era comes to a close. The situation presents far more questions than answers – one of which is how this will impact Israel. George Soros is making the correct observation – based on listening to Israel’s leaders and many voices in its media this week – that some in Israel’s government do not see such change in Israel’s national interest, preferring the stability of its alliance with a security-oriented, less democratic regime.

Some like the RJC may choose to echo those voices from Israel in the American debate and become lone voices opposing a peaceful transition to greater freedom and democracy in Egypt. Soros argues that would be a mistake – and that both Israel and the United States have much to gain from the emergence of more democratic regimes in the region. In his view, Israel’s and the United States’ interests will be best served by siding with the people of the region in their own quest for freedom.

We agree with George Soros, and we are proud to have his support again in 2011. We applaud the leaders from both parties in Congress who have expressed their support for the Obama Administration’s efforts and have declined to make it a partisan issue. This makes all the more deplorable the efforts the RJC to politicize this. We urge the RJC to ratchet down efforts to make political hay out of this crisis and to let the Obama Administration set a sensible course for national policy that comes down on the right side of history.