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‘Pro-Israel' J Street Backed by Non-Jew Who Married Buddhist

‘Pro-Israel’ J Street’s twisted path of funding leads on: The man linked to an $800K donation is a non-Jew with a Buddhist wife.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 10/3/2010, 2:29 PM / Last Update: 10/3/2010, 2:40 PM

J Street

The recent exposure of ‘Pro-Israel’ J Street’s twisted path of funding leads to a new discovery: The man linked to an $800,000 donation is a foreign non-Jew who is married to a Buddhist.

Last month’s expose by the Washington Times countered J Street claims that billionaire George Soros—who says he has no desire to visit Israel—helped found the group, which actively backed President Obama and which had become a regular address for the president on Jewish and Israeli issues.

J Street’s encouragement of bringing the Hamas terrorist organization into the ”diplomatic process,” along with its adamant opposition to Israeli government positions,  has served to make it unpopular with many liberal American Jews who once enthusiastically backed the relatively new lobby.

Besides Soros, the Times reported a mysterious $800,000-plus donation from a Filipino who is a Hong Kong businesswoman named Consolacion Esdicul.

It turns out that the person who convinced her to donate the money is a non-Jew -- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania philanthropist William Benter -- who earlier this year married a woman in a Tibetan Buddhist ceremony.

Esdicul is virtually unknown to Jewish groups, according to Politico’s Ben Smith, but J Street told him she is “an associate of a well-known and successful gambler, “ who apparently is Benter.

Her donation comprises 7 percent of J Street’s budget, and the mysterious twists and turns in the exposure of J Street’s funding has caused consternation among supporters and raised questions among journalists, including those not always pro-Israel.

The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg asks, “Does she define herself as a progressive Zionist? Imagine if we discovered that American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) received seven percent of its funding from a Hong Kong-based woman possibly associated in some manner with a gambling concern? … Why is J Street taking money from foreign donors?“

J Street also has admitted to receiving money from Iranian and Saudi Arabian Muslims.

Washington pundits have questioned if J Street is working ethically by using foreign donations to back American candidates.