January 28, 2011
A bipartisan group of top-ranking lawmakers is calling on the Obama administration to veto an “anti-Israel” resolution being pushed by Palestinian leaders at the United Nations.
In a letter to President Obama, House Republican Leader Eric Cantor and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer joined other officials in claiming the proposed resolution was “without merit” and should be publicly condemned.
“Instead of negotiating directly with Israel to achieve a peaceful solution to the conflict, Palestinian leaders continue to seek to circumvent the negotiating process,” they wrote. “Mr. President, the passage of this resolution would simply isolate Israel and embolden the Palestinians to focus on further such pyrrhic victories, immeasurably setting back prospects for achieving real peace.”
The lawmakers urged the administration to oppose the resolution “publicly and strongly, including through the use of our veto at the United Nations Security Council.” The United States is one of five veto-wielding, permanent members on the Security Council.
“The Palestinian Authority must be reminded that any path towards statehood must be negotiated between Israelis and Palestinians, not imposed,” the lawmakers wrote.
Palestinian leaders submitted the resolution last week. It would condemn Israel’s settlement activity and call for construction in the Palestinian territories and East Jerusalem to stop.
While the United States has not said whether it would veto the proposal, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed disappointment in it last week.
“The only way that there will be a resolution of the conflict … is through a negotiated settlement,” she said, according to AFP. “Therefore, we don’t see action at the U.N. or any other forum as being helpful in bringing about this desired outcome.”
The letter sent Thursday to Obama was signed by Cantor; Hoyer; Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtninen, R-Fla.; Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif.; Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio; and Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-N.Y.
Ackerman had earlier voiced concern with the resolution after the liberal Jewish lobbying firm J Street put out a statement calling on the Obama administration not to veto the measure if it comes up for a vote. [Emphasis added]
The group said it was not endorsing the resolution and preferred diplomatic action, but that the resolution is in line with U.S. policy since it condemns Israel’s ongoing settlement activity.
Protecting the Quarterback on J Street
By Lenny Ben-David
September 13, 2009
J Street seems to pop up in all the right places lately, buoyed and immunized by indulgent, adoring and uncritical journalists. The upstart lobby was invited to join other Jewish organizations in a July meeting with President Obama; a month later they attended a meeting with President Mubarak of Egypt.
Yesterday’s New York Times [Sunday, Sept. 13] magazine published the latest paean to J Street, portraying it as brash and brave, representative of 92 percent of American Jewry, and a young and open organization willing to take on a monolithic and paleolithic AIPAC and other veteran American Jewish organizations.
Frankly, the Times article is missing so many components and questions about the so-called “pro-Israel” organization that it cannot be viewed as anything other than J Street puffery.
For instance, the writer, James Traub, devotes considerable effort to show how J Street is in touch with American Jewish opinion on issues such as Israeli settlements and American engagement in the peace process. J Street commissioned “an extensive poll of Jewish opinion on Middle East issues,” Traub wrote. But Traub failed to report the recent and shocking exposé, written in Commentary by Noah Pollak, that J Street’s poll was conducted by J Street’s own former vice president, Jim Gerstein. J Street’s in-house chef had cooked the polls!
“J Street not only commissions polls,” Pollak wrote, “it writes the questions, conducts them, analyzes the results, and then carries out promotional campaigns with the findings. If you were wondering how it was possible that J Street could repeatedly produce ‘polling data’ that almost perfectly complements the group’s political agenda, now we have one important clue.”
[Challenged on this and other issues, J Street felt compelled last week to post a “Myths and Facts about J Street” on its website. As a founder of the original Myths & Facts, a Factbook on the Arab-Israeli Conflict,” published by AIPAC’sNear East Report, I am reminded how some critics referred to it as “Myths & More Myths,” a title much more appropriate to J Street’s new attempt at defending itself.]
The Times’ Traub failed to report on the identity of J Street’s broader leadership and decision-makers. To whom does director Jeremy Ben-Ami answer or consult? Who sits on the organization’s board of directors? Who are the organization’s funders?
Traub reports on the 50-member Finance Committee, the existence of which was revealed in a Jerusalem Post exposé last month. The Post revealed names of some of the members: “The finance committee with a $10,000 contribution threshold” the Post wrote, “includes Lebanese-American businessman Richard Abdoo, a current board member of Amideast and a former board member of the Arab American Institute (AAI), and Genevieve Lynch, who is also a member of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) board.”
J Street’s website presents its distinguished 170-member “Advisory Council,” a display case of wealthy progressive Jews and former U.S. diplomats to the Middle East, including several who became foreign agents working the halls of Washington for Arab countries. Perhaps J Street’s ultimate leaders are among these advisors, but there’s no way of knowing who they are.
The Post exposé revealed that J Street’s PAC was the recipient of donations from Arab- Islamic- and Iranian-Americans, but Traub doesn’t mention that controversial fact. The existence of these donations is understandably played down by Ben-Ami, but that information certainly should have been made available to the Times’ readers.
J Street’s Finance Committee list only reflects contributors to the PAC as they appear in public records of the Federal Elections Commission. The list of donors to J Street’s main organization is secret.
Traub should have asked what role George Soros plays in the organization. A National Journal article written in April 2008 prior to J Street’s launch reported that “billionaire and controversial activist George Soros, a party to the early talks about forming a new group, is reportedly no longer involved, in part, sources say, because concerns that his participation might be a lightning rod for critics.”
J Street’s disturbing alliance with the Iranian lobbying group, the National Iranian American Council, is also ignored by the Times’ tribute. J Street and NIAC directors co-authored a Huffington Post article earlier this year arguing against new sanctions on Iran. When Congress was considering anti-Iranian legislation a year ago, J Street went into action. In the words of one anti-Israel blogger at the time, “J Street played a key role in dealing that astonishing defeat to AIPAC in Congress — in which a coalition of peace groups and religious groups spearheaded by the National Iranian American Council lobbied effectively against a belligerent resolution.”
One fact the Times magazine seems to get right: “J Street shares the Obama administration’s agenda.” But the Timesshould have gone on to ask the nature of J Street’s relationship with senior officials in the Obama administration. The National Review article on organizational meetings prior to J Street’s launch – and at the height of the Democratic primaries — listed advisors including “several activists with ties to Democratic contender Barak Obama of Illinois.”
The initial support of J Street came from multi-billionaire George Soros, who for a brief time was associated with the organization. Soros pulled out before the initial launch, so as not to negatively affect the group. In September 2010 it was revealed that despite denials, Soros secretly funded the group.
In an apparent success for J Street, most recently Obama Administration nominated Hannah Rosenthal, a member of the advisory council of both J Street and J Street PAC, to be the head of the Office To Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.
Confidential IRS documents obtained by The Washington Times in 2010 showed that George Soros had been a donor to J Street since 2008. The approximately $750,000 from Soros and his family, together with donations from Hong Kong-based businesswoman Ms. Consolacion Esdicul, amounted to about 15% of J Street’s funding since establishment. In previous statements and on its web site J Street had seemed to deny receiving support from foreign interests and from Soros, a bête noire to conservatives. Jeremy Ben-Ami apologized for earlier “misleading” statements regarding funding from Soros. Ben-Ami also clarified that donors to 501(c)(4) organizations are promised confidentiality by law and challenged critics to make public the contributors to opposing organizations. Rabbi Steve Gutow, a president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, called J Street “irresponsible” for its handling of the issue.
- ^ Turning on to J Street, The American Conservative, May 2008.
- ^ a b Lake, Eli (Sept. 24, 2010). “Soros revealed as funder of liberal Jewish-American lobby”. The Washington Times. Retrieved 11 Oct 2010.
- ^ ab Eggen, Dan (Sept. 29, 2010). “On George Soros, J Street acknowledges a wrong turn”. The Washington Post. Retrieved 11 October 2010.
- ^ Kampeas, Ron (Sept. 28, 2010). “Insiders: Why was J Street so scared of Soros?”. Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Retrieved 11 October 2010.
Obama’s Court Jews; the Rise of J Street [incl. Rashid Khalidi]
by Lawrence W. White MD
The American Thinker
August 30, 2009
Ben-Ami has a long career in government and politics, and an association with . left-liberal causes. Along with others, including George Soros, Ben-Ami founded J Street last year as an organization that was “both pro-peace and pro-Israel”. A key feature of J Street’s strategy was to establish themselves as a centrist force. To achieve this they needed to do two things. First, market themselves as moderate and as authentic representatives of the American Jewish community, and secondly break the influence of AIPAC and other Jewish organizations by re-labeling them as right wing, and not sufficiently committed to the peace process.
During its short history, J Street has built up an extensive list of positions detrimental to Israel. With respect to Iran, they have defended Iran’s nuclear weapons program, and lobbied Congress not to place new sanctions on Iran, claiming that the President’s use of diplomacy was preferable to any timelines or new round of sanctions. They have urged ending sanctions against Syria also, and have favored pressuring Israel to return the Golan Heights to Syrian control,
They have lobbied Congress to oppose an initiative calling on Obama to pressure Arab governments to normalize relations with Israel, They favor negotiating with Hamas.They support the “Arab Peace Initiative. And when the President awarded the Medal of Freedom to the Durban anti-Semitic ringmaster Mary Robinson, it was J Street that was tasked with defending the indefensible.
But their most controversial action relates to Operation Cast Lead. Last December, after several months of deadly rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza, Israel finally took military action against Hamas to defend its citizens. J Street opposed this action, calling for an immediate cease fire on the first day, claiming that Israel’s actions were contrary to the interests of peace. Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union of Reform Judaism and an early supporter of J Street, broke with them over this issue, calling it a mistake that “misjudged the views of American Jews”. According to Rabbi Yoffie, J Street “is showing signs of moral deficiency and appalling naïveté”.
J Street’s strategy is deceptively simple. No matter how damaging to Israel a particular position might be, they follow with the mantra “and we are pro-Israel”. That J Street takes positions inimical to Israel’s welfare should be obvious, but it disguises its anti-Israel bias behind repeated declarations of support for the State of Israel. Since there is much disagreement about how best to help Israel, J Street’s repetitive claim that they are a pro-Israel organization offering an enlightened and liberal view, in contrast to the “right wing” views of the Israeli government and the mainstream American Jewish organizations, has credibility.
The media and most individuals, lacking sufficient knowledge to recognize this deception, have rarely questioned the pro-Israel appellation.
This Orwellian deception permits Obama to take steps inimical to the security of Israel while incurring minimal criticism from those who are increasingly alarmed about his growing hostility to Israel There is no other Jewish organization so aligned with the positions of this President on the foreign policy and security issues of the Middle East. Like Obama, J Street believes that the settlements are the major obstacle to peace. Like Obama, J Street believes that mainstream American Jewish organizations are less relevant, and future developments and political inroads will come by way of progressive Jews and their organizations. Like Obama, J Street believes that the current government in Israel is right-wing and will not take steps toward peace unless pushed.
IF Israel is attacked by Hamas, Hezbollah or an entity from the likes of the Muslim Brotherhood, WHOSE side will Obama be on?