J Street, the American Jewish lobbying group that opposed Israel’s war against Hamas rocket fire and said the fire could be stopped with a “diplomatic solution,” called Hamas a “government, law and order, and service provider” that must be left in place, and sees Hamas as a peace partner for Israel, is going to be stepping up its grassroots activism in a field operation across America. At the same time, J Street has come under growing scrutiny for its dubious methods, funding, and associations.
Last month on Commentary’s blog “Contentions,” Noah Pollak noted that J Street’s polls — which always come out showing that American Jewry holds the same positions as J Street — are conducted by Washington consultant Jim Gerstein, who happens to have been a J Street vice president. But “you’d never know this from J Street’s staff page or the voluptuous promotion that accompanies the release of a J Street poll. You wouldn’t know it from all the mentions of Gerstein on J Street’s website, in which he is always portrayed as an independent actor.” But why disclose such bothersome details when you’re pushing for the grand cause of peace with Hamas?
Then last week it was revealed that J Street, almost uniquely among American Jewish organizations, receives part of its funding from Arab and Muslim donors, along with at least two State Department officials with Saudi and Egyptian connections and a lawyer who once represented the Saudi embassy in Washington. The Arab and Muslim contributors include members of J Street’s own finance committee as well as Muslim student groups; the latter in particular are not known to be enthusiasts of Israel’s cause. Lenny Ben-David, a former Israeli diplomat and currently an AIPAC staffer, said it “raises questions as to their banner that they’re a pro-Israel organization. Why would people who are not known to be pro-Israel give money to this organization?”
And just this week, an exposé on American Thinker by Matthew M. Hausman highlighted the presence on J Street’s advisory council of people with anti- rather than pro-Israel credentials. They include the founder and the president of another American Jewish group, Brit Tzedek v’Shalom, which collaborates with anti-Zionist groups — including the radically anti-Israel International Solidarity Movement — and “refuses to identify itself as pro-Zionist”; the board chair and the CEO of the New Israel Fund, known for funding Israeli Arab groups like Adala, Mossawa, and the Arab Human Rights Association that seek Israel’s destruction as a Jewish state; and, perhaps most egregiously, Robert Malley, who among much else is a known Hamas and Hezbollah apologist and in a recent New York Times op-ed insinuated that Israel’s dissolution as a Jewish state is the only “solution.”