I recently conducted a week of meetings on Capitol Hill, and it’s clear that Israel’s supporters on the left need a better organization than J Street to represent them.
J Street’s attack on liberal flagbearer Rep. Gary Ackerman is evidence of the organization’s incompetent decision-making. J Street’s support for a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel proves just how counterfeit its “pro-Israel” claim is. The latest Washington Times exposé showing that the organization’s director apparently violated IRS “self-dealing” regulations proves just how corrupt, dishonest, and devious J Street is.
Here are 26 reasons why no one should mourn J Street’s downfall, or at the very least, the resignation of J Street director.
1. According to the Times, J Street’s founder and director Jeremy Ben-Ami is co-owner of the Ben-Or public relations company in Israel. A dozen far-left organizations and detractors of Israel make use of Ben-Or’s services. Ben-Ami can claim as much as he wants that he doesn’t receive compensation from Ben-Or, but the fact remains that as a founder and owner he is responsible for the leftist ideological orientation of the PR company. As the head of a charitable organization (J Street Educational Fund) and a non-profit organization (J Street), he has retained Ben-Or to work for J Street. He is, in effect, paying himself with charitable donations. It’s a conflict of interest and called “self-dealing” in the world of tax violations.
2. J Street claims to be “pro-Israel,” but its actions, coalition partners, positions, speakers it sponsors, and Ben-Or clients show that its pro-Israel assertion is one big con job. Jimmy Carter and his “Elders” partners Desmond Tutu and Mary Robinson, three of Israel’s biggest critics, are clients in Ben-Ami’s PR company. Can Ben-Ami ever take positions contrary to his clients?
3. J Street’s political action committee continues to take contributions from the Saudi Arabian embassy’s attorney. First exposed in the Jerusalem Post in August 2009, Nancy Dutton’s J Street PAC contributions continued in October 2010, according to the most recent Federal Elections Commission reports. What is it about J Street that attracts Dutton and other Saudi-related power-brokers in Washington?
4. J Street received $811,697 — half of its 2009 budget — from Consolacion “Connie” Esdicul, a mystery woman from Hong Kong. The only thing known about the woman is a lame J Street explanation that she is a friend of a J Street benefactor, world-class professional gambler Bill Benter. Does she even know where Israel is on the map? Until Ms. Esdicul comes clean, the donation — probably a foreign currency money transfer based on the uneven sum — smells of money laundering.
5. Look who endorses J Street. “This is a key moment in the debate,” says Stephen Walt, co-author of the anti-Israel book The Israel Lobby. “It will be important whether Obama gets enough cover from J Street and the Israel Policy Forum so Obama can say, ‘AIPAC is not representative of the American Jewish community.’” — Mother Jones, September 2009
6. How many times did Jeremy Ben-Ami deny that J Street received funds from the Israel- and AIPAC-loathing George Soros? Eventually, it was discovered that J Street was receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars from Soros and his family when J Street’s IRS files were accidentally made public. Now, Ben-Ami covers his deceit by publicly expressing pride in the Soros participation.
7. J Street’s lobbying operation is detailed in records of the secretary of the Senate and the clerk of the House. The records show that in the first quarter of 2009, J Street was spending less than $5,000 on lobbying expenses. By the first quarter of 2010, it was spending $130,000 per quarter. Where did this windfall come from, if not from George Soros or the mysterious Hong Kong donor?
8. J Street upholds a fundamentally anti-democratic ideal that Israel must be saved in spite of itself, that the people of Israel will never voluntarily surrender the West Bank and east Jerusalem, and that the United States must impose a solution on Israel. Ben-Ami, the son of a right-wing Irgun operative, Yitshaq Ben-Ami, who died in 1985, could have been an Irgun “prince” just like Dan Meridor, Binyamin Netanyahu, Tzipi Livni, and Ehud Olmert, but he couldn’t hack it in Israel, by his own admission to Moment:
Personally, Ben-Ami found Israeli society harder to penetrate. “If you didn’t grow up in Israel, and you’re making aliyah, and you don’t speak Hebrew fluently, and you didn’t serve in the army, in terms of professional opportunities and full acceptance into the society, there were some barriers to coming in at 35.” Despite his sabra ties and professional success, he concluded, “I didn’t think I could ever be 100-percent fully accepted as an Israeli.”
So Ben-Ami did the next best thing: He returned to the U.S. to attack Israel’s government from Washington. We’ll leave it to Freud to analyze Ben-Ami Junior’s opposition to everything that his father Ben-Ami Senior stood for.
9. J Street joined with the pro-Iranian lobby, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), to oppose congressional efforts to impose sanctions on Iran. Ben-Ami and NIAC director Trita Parsi co-authored an anti-sanctions article titled “How Diplomacy Can Work with Iran” in Huffington Post in June 2009.
10. J Street receives large contributions from one of NIAC’s directors, Genevieve Lynch of New York. She serves on J Street’s Finance Committee, and her J Street PAC contributions exceed $10,000 per year.