“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.”
“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.”
“…..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.”
“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.”
“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 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.”
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).
“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.”
“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.”
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.”
“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.”
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.