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Billionaire George Soros donates $1m to J Street super PAC

Donation from the Jewish philanthropist draws attack from Aipac, which accuses Soros of "backing anti-Israel groups"
Soros has extensive ties to the liberal J Street.
Soros has extensive ties to J Street (AFP/File photo)
By MEE staff in Washington

Jewish billionaire and philanthropist George Soros has donated $1m to the pro-Israel group J Street's super PAC, sparking an attack from rival pro-Israel lobbying group Aipac.

The donation, revealed in federal election commission data, comes from Soros' Democracy PAC and is larger than any previous gift given to the J Street Action Fund. J Street receives most of its donations from left-leaning supporters and is known to be critical of some Israeli policies, while Aipac gets its donations from a mix of sources, including right-wing mega-donors and Trump allies but is a fervent supporter of Israeli policies. 

The amount is dwarfed in size by Aipac's United Democracy Project (UDP), which has received more than $30m in donations since it was formed last December.

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Aipac was quick to attack J Street for the donation, accusing Soros of having "a long history of backing anti-Israel groups".

"AIPAC works to strengthen pro-Israel mainstream Democrats. J Street & Soros work to undermine them," Aipac said in a tweet.

While Soros has not previously donated to J Street's super PAC in the past, he has extensive ties to the pro-Israel lobbying group - a grant from his Open Society Foundations makes up six percent of J Street's yearly budget.

"We have been proud of and continue to be proud of our association with George Soros, the Soros family and Open Society. That is something we’ve been proud of since 2009 when they first started funding us," J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami told Haaretz.

The gift comes after a primary election cycle in the US that saw Aipac's UDP pour nearly $30m into a number of elections across the country, successfully backing seven winning candidates.

J Street has tried challenging the UDP in some of these races, most notably in the duel between fellow incumbents Andy Levin and Haley Stevens. J Street-backed Levin lost in the hotly contested race.

Aipac launched the UDP in December, alongside the Aipac PAC, giving the group the ability to donate to political campaigns.

The pro-Israel group has spent tens of millions of dollars in this year's primary election cycle and has helped a number of moderate Democrats achieve victory over their progressive opponents who are more critical of Israel.

The UDP's spending has strengthened a schism with other liberal pro-Israel groups like J Street after Aipac endorsed more than 100 of the 147 Republican lawmakers that voted against certifying President Joe Biden's election victory over Donald Trump.

Aipac's spending in the primaries has also drawn the ire of many progressives who accuse the group of undermining Democratic primary elections with funding from Republican mega-donors.

Senator Bernie Sanders, a leading progressive voice in US politics and former presidential candidate, said in May that "This is a war ... for the future of the Democratic Party."

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