Knesset Debates J Street’s “Pro-Israel” Bona Fides
My Statement to the Committee

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The following is the English translation of Knesset testimony presented to the Knesset Committee on Immigration and Diaspora Affairs on Wednesday, March 23, 2011 by Lenny Ben-David.

Some 40 years ago, an Arab diplomat named Mohammed Mehdi declared, “The road to the liberation of Palestine leads through Washington.”

Today, this quote is more correct than ever. I see the current de-legitimization campaign against Israel as part of the ongoing war against Israel, and Washington is one of the fronts.

I want to emphasize that in the Zionist world, there is plenty of room for organizations from the left and the right, secular and religious organizations, Jewish and Christian organizations.

But I have never seen an organization like J Street that hides behind the cover of a pro-Israel organization and works with such furtiveness in the United States, in general, and in Washington in particular, to undermine and hurt the State of Israel.

• Here is one case that happened this week which exemplifies J Street’s actions: After J Street shed its crocodile tears after the massacre of the Fogel family in Itamar, J Street attempted to block a congressional letter which attacked Palestinian incitement, one of the factors in the attack. “J Street opposes the letter currently being circulated by Representatives Rothman and Austria on incitement and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” J Street wrote. “It is entirely appropriate for Members of Congress to speak out – as J Street consistently does – against instances of incitement by Palestinians against the State of Israel and its citizens. In our view, it is preferable for Congressional statements on the conflict to address the actions and words of both parties [emphasis added] that hamper the chances to achieve peace.”

• J Street’s leaders Ben-Ami and David Gilo have stated here in Israel that J Street “represents 170,000” supporters. In fact, J Street reaches that number by counting all entries to its website as “supporters.” The organization does not maintain a dues-paying members list.

• J Street supported the UN condemnation of Israel last month and opposed the U.S. veto of the resolution. Gilo explained on Israeli Channel 2 TV that J Street was simply following policies of eight American presidents. But by taking that position, they were opposing the policy of the current Obama administration that saw a UN condemnation of Israel at this sensitive time as a dangerous and inappropriate act. On the issue of the veto, U.S. Representative Gary Ackerman stated, “J Street is so open-minded about what constitutes support for Israel that its brains have fallen out.”

• Gilo claimed on Israeli TV that J Street opposes the boycott of Israel. Yet, J Street provided a platform for one of the foremost Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions (BDS) organizations, the Jewish Voices for Peace, at its Washington Conference. JVP’s director proclaimed at J Street, “BDS is an opportunity for each of us, personally, to act on our values. To express, directly, our support for freedom, democracy and dignity.”

• J Street also cosponsored a congressional mission to Israel with the Churches for Middle East Peace, an organization consisting of pro-BDS organizations.

• J Street opposed sanctions against Iran. Today, J Street states that it always supported sanctions against Iran, but that’s not true. 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. J Street receives large contributions from one of NIAC’s directors, Genevieve Lynch of New York. She serves on J Street’s Finance Committee.

• J Street supports the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity group opposed to Jews li ving in former Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem. This is the organization that demonstrates in Jerusalem every week, and before you is a picture of Jeremy Ben-Ami leading one of the demonstrations. J Street hosted the SJS at its most recent conference in Washington. The SJS’ manifesto calls for the “liquidation or fundamental change of organizations that contribute to the dispossession of Arabs, including the Jewish Agency, the Jewish National Fund, and the Israel Lands Authority.”

• Official American documents from the Federal Election Commission show that J Street’s political action committee receives contributions from sources in the pro-Saudi lobby, the Arab-American lobby, and even the pro-Iranian lobby.
• In J Street’s first two years, director Jeremy Ben-Ami repeatedly stated that the organization received no funds from George Soros, the anti-Israel billionaire. But U.S. Internal Revenue Service documents revealed that his statements were untrue. Mr. Gilo said in a TV interview that Soros’ contributions were supposed to have been kept secret, but he claimed that Soros’ half-million dollar contributions were relatively small. Indeed they were in comparison to the $811,697 contribution from a mysterious Hong Kong woman, Consolacion Esdicul, which constituted one-half of J Street 2009 budget. There are few details about this woman, and suspicion is raised about possible money laundering.

• J Street supports Richard Goldstone the author of the Goldstone Report. J Street staff members assisted in setting up meetings for Goldstone on Capitol Hill. A Goldstone letter to members of Congress was drafted on the computer of one of J Street’s five corporate directors, Morton Halperin, a Soros advisor.

• J Street sponsored UNRWA leader and Israel critic John Ging on American speaking tours.

Are these the actions of a “pro-Israel” organization?

J Street’s intensive public relations activities here in Israel are carried out by Ben-Or Communications which presents J Street’s narrative in the Israeli media without any response.

Ben-Or communications is co-owned by Oriella Ben-Tzvi and J Street’s Jeremy Ben-Ami. Besides working on J Street’s behalf, Ben-Or also represents some of Israel’s worst detractors such as Jimmy Carter, the “Elders,” Yesh Din, Amnesty International, and National Public Radio in the U.S.

Unfortunately, J Street will use the opportunity to extend its purimspiel past the Purim holiday, to hide its real, anti-Israel face behind its “pro-Israel” mask. Its agenda, its supporters, and its record all show that J Street’s intentions are the weakening of Israel’s deterrent abilities, the promotion of Israel’s detractors, and the undermining of Israel’s democratically elected government.

For more information:

* J Street at it again: Attacking efforts to defend Israel By Jennifer Rubin

* Twenty-Six Reasons J Street’s Demise Shouldn’t Be Mourned By Lenny Ben-David

* The J Street Files – Jikileaks

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