By Barry Rubin
Hey, boys and girls! Notice how we keep finding out more and more about the corruption of the Ground Zero mosque project and its chief sponsors? Well, now we discover that the whole thing received a lot of secret help from NY City’s mayor and government to ensure it was approved even though–on purely legal and financial grounds–that was a questionable decision.
The mayor’s office says that the project received only normal help. Wow, I’ll bet a lot of New York developers would be amazed at that statement. But let’s never forget that this project, budgeted at far over $100 million, has no serious money raised!
I have a totally different view on this issue that is drenched with irony. The first irony is that the mayor’s office and other city agencies pushed for a project that would never otherwise have been approved (given zoning issues, the bad record of the promoters, the fact that they didn’t even own the property, etc).
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This brought the second irony: the city government’s leaning over double-backwards to show extra-special privileges for an Islamic institution–supposedly to fight “Islamophobia” and to prove how “tolerant” they are–raised antagonisms and set off a huge national controversy that otherwise never would have happened!
How can people keep debating this issue without noting that whether they are for or against it the odds of this mosque/community center ever being built is low? Again, even if no voice had ever been raised against this community center/mosque plan, it is never going to exist. And if people had not been so blinded by fear of being thought “Islamophobic” that they would ignore ever other completely non-political factor involved, no one would ever have heard of the Ground Zero Mosque at all.
By the way, while we are on the subject of New York, that state just released its hate crimes report for 2009 (hey, it’s a government so it isn’t very efficient). They found 683 such events including 251 hate crimes against Jews; 11 against Muslims. But, of course, reportedly 242 mosques have already been built in New York state without a single significant protest against any of them. So much for rampant “Islamophobia.”
Back to corruption and lying. We discover two more new examples of it on the part of J Street.
First, veteran anti-Israel lobbyist (pretending to be a pro-Israel lobbyist) Jeremy Ben-Ami founded a consulting firm that received tens of thousands of dollars of J Street money. Ben-Ami claims he did not benefit financially but merely chose the best-qualified company.
Since he and his colleagues have already lied about so much I suspect there is more to discover here.
J Street is a truly amazing phenomenon. The smallest amount of serious research reveals that it is an anti-Israel organization; it has lied about funding; it has undertaken no pro-Israel actions virtually ever; its leader was an anti-Israel lobbyist, and yet since the mass media and even much of the Jewish media don’t publish this material there are many people totally unaware of this information.
Second, J Street has opened an office in Israel headed by someone named Drew Cohen. But in the age of the Internet an intrepid researcher has dug out his record which includes Cohen:
–Explaining that he can’t be comfortable unless he’s “with people who I am certain do not espouse Zionism or any form of oppression.”
–Describing Israel’s handling of the Gaza flotilla confrontation as “a heinous brutality” and saying that Gaza is only a “mythic threat” to Israel.
–Calling Operation Cast Lead (remember that one? How Israel defended itself when that “mythic threat” started firing hundreds of mortar shells and rockets at its civilians?) as an “unjust and even criminal” act.
But guess what! In a recent speech in Pittsburgh, when someone asked Ben-Ami about Drew Cohen, the anti-Israel activist claimed that Cohen was just an intern. Funny, a few hours earlier J Street had issued a press release trumpeting what a great guy he is and how he is the head of J Street’s new Israel office. (Perhaps the office should be located in the Gaza Strip so that Drew doesn’t have to come into contact with those evil Zionists.)
When will people who still support this group wake up and understand (as almost all members of Congress already do) that it is NOT a dovish, constructively critical group led by friends of Israel but a front group whose mission is to destroy American Jewish support for Israel?
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict, and Crisis (Palgrave Macmillan), Conflict and Insurgency in the Contemporary Middle Eastand editor of the (seventh edition) (Viking-Penguin), The Israel-Arab Reader the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria(Palgrave-Macmillan), A Chronological History of Terrorism (Sharpe), and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley).