The J Street political action committee, which bills itself as pro-Israel and pro-peace, has received tens of thousands of dollars in donations from dozens of Arab and Muslim Americans, as well as from individuals connected to Palestinian and Iranian-advocacy groups, according to U.S. Federal Election Commission filings.
In addition, the Jerusalem Post reported, at least two State Department officials connected to Middle East issues have donated to J Street, which pushes for the two-state solution and for more U.S. involvement in resolving the Middle East conflict.
Instead of recognizing that J Street’s Arab donors imply that J Street is not pro-Israel, director Jeremy Ben-Ami jumped to the opposite conclusion: "I think it is a terrific thing… to be able to expand the tent of people who are willing to be considered pro-Israel and willing to support Israel through J Street," he told the Post. He estimated that Arab and Muslim donors comprise at most 3% of the young organization's contributors.
Attaching "Pro-Israel" to its Statements Doesn't Make it Pro-Israel
Ed Lasky, writing for American Thinker, however, writes that "astute observers have been skeptical that J Street’s claim to be pro-Israel is legitimate.” He cites in this regard Noah Pollak's recent article in Commentary Magazine, in which Pollak wrote that J Street “seeks to make its advocacy mainstream by re-branding [old Oslo Accord] policies… as moderate, thus effectively labeling the Jewish mainstream as right-wing and self-destructive. The first step in this re-branding process is the fastidious attachment of the phrase ‘pro-Israel’ to describe almost every statement that J Street makes. Professions of deep concern for Israeli security can be found in virtually all the group’s statements, despite J Street’s rejection of the security consensus of the Israeli government on most matters.”
Lasky also writes that J Street “has worked to have Congressmen sign onto letters that have raised hackles among many in the pro-Israel community,” and that it has links to anti-Israel billionaire George Soros.
Similarly, Lenny Ben-David, a former Israeli diplomat and staffer for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), told the Post that the number of Arab and Muslim donors “raises questions as to [J Street’s] banner that they're a pro-Israel organization. Why would people who are not known to be pro-Israel give money to this organization?"
The Federal Election Commission report, as analyzed by the Post’s Hilary Leila Krieger, shows that among the donors to J Street are Lebanese-American businessman Richard Abdoo, a former board member of the Arab American Institute; Genevieve Lynch, a member of the National Iranian American Council board; Nancy Dutton, an attorney who once represented the Saudi Embassy in Washington; leaders of Muslim student groups, Saudi- and Iranian-born Americans, and Palestinian- and Arab-American businessmen who also give to Arab-oriented PACs.
“This is one more indication,” concludes Lasky, “that J Street should be looked upon warily and with a great deal of skepticism when it tries to pass itself off as being a supporter of strong American-Israel ties.”