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Sunday, September 26, 2010

J-Street President Answers Soros Funding Charges "Guilty With an Explanation."

Jeremy Ben-Ami, President of the pseudo-Israel advocacy group J-Street has decided to respond to the allegations that, despite years of denial, Ben-Ami lied about George Soros being a major donor to the group. His response, published on the J-Street site, could best be described as "Guilty with an explanation." According to the explanation Ben-Ami wants to put the "whole lie in perspective.
“Within the past 48 hours, you may have heard that the Washington Times published a confidential J Street tax return, containing private information about some of our donors.”
Actually, it wasn't confidential or private; I obtained the return from a public data base of form 990s ("returns" that charitable organizations need to file with the IRS)
“I write to provide an explanation, to assume responsibility, and to put the whole matter in perspective in light of critically important events taking place this week on the world stage related to Israel and the Middle East.
You and I have built something spectacular in J Street. Our success has been phenomenal. In just two and a half years, our three legally independent entities (J Street, J Street Education Fund and JStreetPAC) have raised more than $11 million from over 10,000 donors.”
That may very well be true; unfortunately we only have Mr. Ben-Ami's word as proof. And given his track record his word is not enough.

Here's what we do know so far, George Soros gave J Street it seed money and another $245,000 in 2008. We also know that last year when the Jerusalem Post took a look at the donors to J Street's PAC they found that many of the PAC's contributors are Arabs, Muslims and several individuals connected to organizations advocating for the Palestinian’s and the tyrannical Iranian regime.

Ben-Ami goes on to say that the Soros family donated about $750,000 over the past three years.
“.....George Soros and his family decided to donate to J Street in the fall of 2008, well after our launch and two years after he publicly stated that it would not be helpful for him to assist in getting the effort off the ground. The family contributed an average of $250,000 per year over the last three years (2008-2010) and their support amounts to just over 7 percent of the total funds raised by the J Street family of organizations.
I accept responsibility personally for being less than clear about Mr. Soros’ support once he did become a donor. I said Mr. Soros did not help launch J Street or provide its initial funding, and that is true. I also said we would be happy to take his support. But I did not go the extra step to add that he did in fact start providing support in the fall of 2008, six months after our launch.
J Street does not reveal the names of donors to its 501(c)(4) corporation or the amounts of their contributions. Neither do nearly all such entities in the United States. The law guarantees donors their privacy and confidentiality. Nevertheless, my answers regarding Mr. Soros were misleading. I deeply and genuinely apologize for that and for any distraction from J Street’s important work created by my actions and decisions.”
 The words Mr. Ben-Ami is leaving out "I deliberately lied and I kept lying until I was found out"

The Soros connection to J Street goes way beyond money J Street’s Advisory Council has included individuals with very close ties to Soros and Soros-controlled organizations. Among them are Gail Furman and Deborah Sagner, who also serve on the board of Democracy Alliance, an enormously influential Soros-funded coalition that supports leftist groups and political candidates; Sheldon Drobny, who co-founded the Soros-funded Air America Radio; Maria Echaveste, a Senior Fellow at the Soros-funded Center for American Progress, a Board of Directors member of the Soros-funded People for the American Way, and a Board of Advisors member of the Soros-funded American Constitution Society; Eli Pariser, Executive Director of the Soros-funded, Democrat Party-promoting; and Robert Malley, a Director of the Soros-funded International Crisis Group who grew up at the foot of Yassir Arafat.
“Some press reports have also noted a large contribution on our return from a resident of Hong Kong named Consolacion Esdicul. The explanation for this is straightforward. Bill Benter, a philanthropist and political activist from Pittsburgh, is a major supporter of and contributor to J Street. He is a generous donor to a range of causes related to his hometown, national politics and the Arab-Israeli conflict, and a passionate advocate for peace.

As we were launching J Street, Bill committed to contribute and to help raise substantial funds for the effort should we get it off the ground. One contribution he helped raise was from Ms. Esdicul, a business associate from Hong Kong, where he lives for part of the year and has business holdings.”
Ben-Ami then turns his attention to his critics.

“Having reviewed the facts and accepted responsibility for this situation, I will now be direct about our critics.

Those who attack J Street over the sources of its funding are not good government watchdogs concerned about the state of non-profit financing in the United States. If our critics are really so concerned with transparency of funding, then I challenge them to reveal the sources of funds for the organizations with which they agree.”

In other words we lied, but it’s OK because everyone does it.

“In reality, our opponents are on the other side of a broader ideological battle over American and Israeli policy, looking for any excuse to avoid debating the merits of the issues. They are defending an indefensible status quo and would lead us to a future that ensures perpetual conflict and violence, not long-term security for Israel or the United States.

J Street is providing hope for those who’ve lost it on this issue and a voice for those who feel they have been silenced. We’re giving inspiration to moderate Israelis and, yes, to Palestinians who still believe there is a way to live side-by-side in two states in peace and security.”

“….And a lot of people don’t like that. They attack us as anti-Israel. As self-hating Jews. They equate us with the worst enemies of the Jewish people – even as we fight for what we believe is the only way to save Israel’s Jewish and democratic soul.”

J Street traces the Mideast conflict chiefly to the notion that “Israel’s settlements in the occupied territories have, for over forty years, been an obstacle to peace.” Those settlements, adds J Street, have “undermine[d] peace prospects by making Palestinians doubt Israeli motives and commitment.” 

Why the presence of Jews in Arab lands constitutes an obstacle to peace, while more than a million Arabs live comfortably in Israel, J Street doesn’t explain. Something else that J-Street doesn't explain, if Israel is so reluctant to support a two-state solution then why did every Israeli Prime Minister since Rabin support a two state solution (Rabin never supported a Palestinian State).

J Street's anti-Israel positions are so blatant that Rabbi Yoffie  former head of the Reform movement, a  left-wing Israel critic who himself extended his hand to Islamist terrorist groups, has  bashed the J-Street:
“The lobbying group, he wrote in the liberal newspaper The Forward, "could find no moral difference between the actions of Hamas and other Palestinian militants, who have launched more than 5,000 rockets and mortar shells at Israeli civilians in the past three years, and the long-delayed response of Israel, which finally lost patience and responded to the pleas of its battered citizens in the south."
Yoffie was responding to  Ben-Ami's initial statement in response to Israel's launching of air strikes, which he opened with this declaration :
"While this morning’s air strikes by Israeli Defense Forces in Gaza can be understood and even justified in the wake of recent rocket attacks, we believe that real friends of Israel recognize that escalating the conflict will prove counterproductive, igniting further anger in the region and damaging long-term prospects for peace and stability."
Notice that Ben-Ami is claiming that people who support Israel's defense against the Hamas rocket attacks is not a "real friend" of the Jewish State.

J Street has also objected to the Congress increasing sanctions on Iran. They sent out a mass e-mail opposing a bipartisan push in Congress for tougher sanctions on Iran. Here's the relevant passage:
“On Iran, the President is promoting tough, direct diplomacy to address concerns over their nuclear program, support for Hamas and Hezbollah, and threats against Israel. The President has made clear that the diplomatic road ahead will be tough -- but the chances of success won't be helped by Congress imposing tight time lines or a new round of sanctions at this moment.”
Ben-Ami concluded the explanation of his Soros lie with a rallying call to his troops:
“The leak of our tax return at this moment is less than helpful, I know, in keeping our eye on the real challenge we face: ensuring we seize this historic opportunity to bring the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to a peaceful conclusion.

I am positive we will look back at this as a defining moment in the story of Israel and the Middle East during our lifetimes. Our leaders – here and in the region – face the choice of their lives at a fundamental fork in the road of history.

Let’s focus on the real issues at hand, the historic nature of the moment. And let’s get on with our work.”
 Ben-Ami is avoiding the point. He lied about the Soros connection and he is lying about J Street being a pro-Israel organization.

During the conflict with Hamas, which was endorsed by all Jewish political parties in the Knesset both right and left, J Street called Israel's "escalation in Gaza would be counterproductive" and was "disproportionate." It also made a moral equivalency argument between the policies of Israel and Hamas, stating they found difficulty in distinguishing "between who is right and who is wrong" and "picking a side." That doesn't sound very pro-Israel.

J Street also takes a stance against sanctions against Iran for its nuke program and uses the anti-Semitic canard that Israel controls US foreign policy, saying that it "opposes the role of force by Israel or the United States" against Iran. Ironically it urges the US to force Israel into a solution.

The organization also wants the US and Israel to negotiate with Hamas, a terrorist group actively trying to destroy Israel. And even though President Barack Obama has done so, J Street chief Ben-Ami does not believe that Israel should be recognized as a "Jewish state."

Ben-Ami uses the "dual loyalty” stereotype; "the impact of Israeli policies on our interests as Americans and Jews," suggesting support for Israel by American Jewry would lead to alienation from the Americans who would decide that Jews have a greater loyalty to Israel than America.

The truth is that J Street is not a pro-Israel organization; it is a wolf in sheep's clothing. That cover-up is much worse than the lies about where they get their funding.


Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

I hate the sanctimonious, sticky sweet tone of this statement. He admits that he lied but it was all for the common good.

How does benami explain the wars of 1947-49, of 1956, and of 1967 when there were no settlements, and the 1973 war when settlements were very few??

No mention of soros' anti-Jewish, not merely anti-Israel remarks, that are a matter of public record. No explanation of why a person with soros' anti-Jewish beliefs would wsnt to contribute so much to Jstreet.

Henry said...

i wonder what financial interests Soros has in Iran.