September 21, 2008

The connection betweeen j-street and the obama campaign

One name: Alan Solomont.

I posted a comment about him at LGF.

There's suspicion among some observers that the National Jewish Democratic Council was a significant player in the decision to cancel invitations to all politicians to speak at the Stop Iran rally.

Solomonia wrote:

...let's be clear, I'm sure the real culprit for politicizing this was the National Jewish Democratic Council, not the still-fringe in all but funding, J-Street

Similarly Wizbang wrote:

Enter the National Jewish Democratic Council, which supports the Obama Campaign. They were enlisted and put to the front to apply direct pressure to the Conference of Presidents, also a Jewish organization. And it is not a stretch to imagine (though wholly my conjecture) that the Conference of Presidents has donors among the NJDC, and therefore more than simply conceivable that there were threats of significant funding halts and other future obstacles from among powerful NJDC members.

I disagree. I think that J-Street was the prime mover. That's because of Alan Solomont.

Solomont was one of the main forces behind J-Street. Here's Solomont on why he helped found J-Street:

"The definition of what it means to be pro-Israel has come to diverge from pursuing a peace settlement," said Alan Solomont, a prominent Democratic Party fundraiser involved in the initiative. In recent years, he said, "We have heard the voices of neocons, and right-of-center Jewish leaders and Christian evangelicals, and the mainstream views of the American Jewish community have not been heard."

Solomont also saw in the current Democratic nominee for president, Barack Obama a kindred spirit.

Solomont, however, approaches his work not as just helping a candidate but as furthering a cause.

"This is a mission-driven, value-laden enterprise, and I am philosophical about it," he said during an interview in the memorabilia-filled conference room of his office in this Boston suburb.

Throughout the conversation, Solomont emphasized that raising money is a means to an end: getting politicians who share his goals of a more economically and socially just country. He said his work is deeply driven by the Jewish teachings he learned growing up in an observant household in the nearby town of Brookline.

There's more:

"The war on poverty created structures for citizen involvement, and my work centered on getting people empowered through collective action,'' he said.

After working as a community organizer Solomont, who has undergraduate degrees in nursing and political science, made his wealth in the nursing home and senior home health care businesses. He now devotes almost all his time to political and philanthropic work.

Solomont says working as an organizer helped him form an instant bond with Obama, who undertook similar efforts in Chicago in the 1980s.

Alan Solomont supports Barack Obama because he sees someone who holds the same values. J-Street's participation in the effort to torpedo Palin's appearance at the anti-Iran rally is what suggests that this was a coordinated effort run by the Democratic party to dis-invite her, regardless of cost.

In a profile of Solomont from four years ago, here's how he's described:

"The word 'fund-raiser, fund-raiser, fund-raiser' keeps repeating," remarks Steve Grossman, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and a longtime friend of the Solomonts. "But what I think people don't understand as well about Alan and Susan is that they have a great strategic sense, so they can synthesize and bring multiple skills to the table."

See that phrase "strategic sense." The campaign against having Palin speak had a feel of being purposeful. Let's go back to Wizbang again to understand the motivation:

Make no mistake that this was an Obama op and that it was Obama operatives directing the screenplay. Upon news of Palin's invitation, it was assured that the event would garner a higher level of attention than it already commanded. And the images and footage of Palin speaking in protest (popular protest, it should be added) of Iran and the messianic Ahmadinejad upon the backdrop of the common perception of Obama's weakness in foreign policy and national security simply could not stand. Furthermore, it would have provided endless campaign fodder with Palin shown standing against the world's foremost state sponsor of international terrorism amid the audio-visual bites of Obama stating he would hold talks with Iran without preconditions. The effects would potentially be more than just stinging.

So I think it was J-Street that was the senior partner to the Obama campaign in torpedoing the anti-Ahmadinejad rally.

Tigerhawk sums it up nicely:

"Whether Barack Obama can be said to be 'good for the Jews' is too portentous a question even for this blog. It is now safe to say, however, that his campaign is not."

(h/t Instapundit)

UPDATE: Lynn-B (In Context) writes in the comments:

You make a convincing case that Solomont had the motivation and the ideology to pull these strings but not that he had the clout. I don't see it. J-Street is still a legend in its own mind. It doesn't have the power to influence the Conference. The NJDC, however, clearly does. And it was quite transparent in its attempts.

Perhaps I'm guilty of allowing my distaste for J-Street exaggerate their true level of influence - and thus I'm helping them trumpet their reputation unnecessarily. But what I'm trying to argue is that J-Street is an adjunct of the Obama campaign not an allied movement and that J-Street is a lot more tied in to the Democratic party.

Look at J-Street's advisory council. One name that sticks out is Debra Delee, who is not only CEO of APN but is also, like Alan Solomont, a Democratic superdelegate. My guess is that she's not alone. So while the NJDC may promote the Democratic party, my guess (and it's only a guess,) is that J-Street is - in large part - the Democratic party.

I'm willing to concede that I might be giving too much credit to J-Street. But I don't think so. But I'll have to admit I don't have strong proof of that.

Crossposted on Yourish.

Posted by SoccerDad at September 21, 2008 6:33 AM | TrackBack
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Comments

The mere fact they are gloating over having drummed up 20,000 signatures to further the cause of endangering Israel, Israel's expense to further their own, says more than enough. Thanks for nothing to both J-Street & the NJDC,

sincerely from Israel.

The pressure put on American friends of Israel like the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations was shameful. I cannot for a moment believe this is supported by most fine Jewish Democrats, this slippery snake like behavior which harms Israel in the face of a madman like Ahmadinejad.

Posted by: saus at September 21, 2008 9:24 AM

In recent years, he said, "We have heard the voices of neocons, and right-of-center Jewish leaders and Christian evangelicals, and the mainstream views of the American Jewish community have not been heard."
...............................................
What makes Solomont believe he represents mainstream American Jewish thinking?

Posted by: Laura at September 21, 2008 12:39 PM

SD,

You make a convincing case that Solomont had the motivation and the ideology to pull these strings but not that he had the clout. I don't see it. J-Street is still a legend in its own mind. It doesn't have the power to influence the Conference. The NJDC, however, clearly does. And it was quite transparent in its attempts.

http://www.njdc.org/media/entry/palin_invite

Posted by: Lynn B. at September 21, 2008 1:08 PM

Thanks for the update. I agree that J-Street is certainly not what it appears to be. It sounds like Aaron Lerner at IMRA agrees with you on this score as well.

Because J Street, a relatively new pro-withdrawal * Jewish organization, revealed its priorities.

And its priority is promoting their own political agenda - in this case the promotion of the election of whoever happens to be running on the Democratic ticket - over the interests and needs of the Jewish State.

Sadly, J-Street is going to increase its visibility and its influence as a result of this stunt. There's no question they're trying to take the "credit" to bolster their image and their fundraising efforts. It's a disgrace.

Posted by: Lynn B. at September 21, 2008 2:12 PM

OBAMA = BETRAYAL
Obama supporters are foolish to think that he will never betray them.
Obama was a close friend of Pastor Wright for TWENTY YEARS.
Obama threw Wright under the bus for personal ambition.
McCain would not betray his country even after 5 years of torture.
You can put lipstick on a traitor, but he's still a traitor.

Posted by: Howard at September 21, 2008 3:31 PM

David,

The weirdest thing about this is that Solomont was a Clinton supporter - he was Treasurer of the Democratic party under Clinton and he and his wife were Lincoln bedroom overnight guests.

Posted by: Carl in Jerusalem at September 22, 2008 11:55 AM
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