Last month when the President invited Jewish supporters to the White House to discuss their reaction to his one-sided policy Middle East Policy, one of the groups Obama invited was J-street, in practice the “J” is for Jihad. J-street has minimal standing in the Jewish community but it was set up and funded by George Soros to oppose pro-Israel Jewish groups. 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.
J Street’s anti-Israel propaganda is so blatant that even Rabbi Yoffie of the Reform movement, a regular 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.”
J-Street is comprised of two organization, only one, the Political Action Committee, has to release a list of major donors to the FEC. The Jerusalem Post has examined that list and found that many of the PAC’s contributors are Arabs, Muslims and several individuals connected to organizations doing Palestinian and Iranian issues advocacy
Additionally, at least two State Department officials connected to Middle East issues have donated to the PAC, which gives money to candidates for US Congress supported by J Street. The organization describes itself as a “pro-Israel, pro-peace” lobby pushing for more American involvement and diplomacy in resolving the Middle East conflict.
Arab and Muslim donors are extremely rare for other organizations that describe themselves as supporters of Israel as J Street does, Jewish leaders at organizations across the political spectrum told The Jerusalem Post. Because most of these other organizations are not PACs, however, US law does not require them to release their donor lists. J Street’s non-PAC arm also does not release a complete list of contributors.
J Street executive director Jeremy Ben-Ami estimated the amount of Arab and Muslim donors to be a very small percentage – at most 3 percent – of the organization’s thousands of contributors. But he said that such supporters show the broad appeal of J Street’s message and its commitment to coexistence.
Activists from several pro-Israel groups, suggested that J Street’s donor list reflects on the group’s commitment to Israel:
“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?” asked Lenny Ben-David, a former Israeli diplomat and staffer for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a major Washington lobby but not a PAC that makes contributions to candidates. “Once you introduce a large group and large amount of money from people who are suspect in their pro-Israel credentials, J Street loses some of its credibility in claiming it is pro-Israel and representing the Jewish community.”
….the funds that come from these sources indeed constitute a small fraction of the year-and-a-half-old organization’s political fundraising, which totaled around $844,000 in 2008 – a key election year – and $111,000 so far in 2009. They comprise several dozen of the PAC’s 4,000-5,000 donors.
But some of the contributors play key roles in the organization. The finance committee’s 50 members – with a $10,000 contribution threshold – include Lebanese-American businessman Richard Abdoo, a current board member of Amideast and a former board member of the Arab American Institute, and Genevieve Lynch, who is also a member of the National Iranian American Council board. The group has also received several contributions from Nancy Dutton, an attorney who once represented the Saudi Embassy in Washington.
Smaller donors include several leaders of Muslim student groups, Saudi- and Iranian-born Americans, and Palestinian- and Arab-American businessmen who also give to Arab-oriented PACs.
The Arabist State Dept. also pitched in:
Additionally, Nicole Shampaine, director of the State Department’s Office for Egypt and the Levant, gave $1,000 last summer. Lewis Elbinger, who used to serve in Saudi Arabia, gave a combined $150.
The donations raised the eyebrows of some Jewish organization officials.
“It informs our view of where these individual foreign service officers’ heads are in relation to US-Israel policy,” said one who spoke on condition of anonymity. “It might not be the smartest move for them to be showing their hand in that way, though I don’t think it’s illegal or even unethical.”
…Mainstream groups ranging from the American Jewish Committee to the United Jewish Communities 150-plus federations rarely if ever get such donations; PACs from the National Jewish Democratic Council’s to the Republican Jewish Coalition’s don’t list such contributors among their public filings.
Other progressive Jewish groups also aren’t accustomed to such backers.
“APN receives thousands of checks every year from its supporters. The vast majority – as far as we can tell – are American Jews. That is the segment of the US public that we typically target,” said APN spokesman Ori Nir, noting that while he does not keep tabs on every check received, he knows that all of the group’s major donors are Jewish.
Nir, whose group has similar stances on the peace process and engagement with Iran to J Street, also said that the organization tears up any checks sent with Israel-bashing notes.
A leader from a mainstream pro-Israel organization said that while his group has never received money from such sources, “There’s no moral impediment for reaching into other constituencies. It’s not something we have done, but I like to think the cause of Middle East peace is a cause that is not only supported by American Jews but is broadly supported.”
At the same time, he suggested that these donors might have chosen to give to J Street because “that constituency supports the kind of a line that maybe naturally gravitates to an advocacy organization that’s more critical of Israel.”
Here’s the real question. If J-Street is listing these sources on its PUBLIC filing, just imagine what the donors list they don’t have to release to the public looks like.