Daily Israel Report

JStreet and Media Matters: Same Funding, Similar Ideas

Bill Benter, prominent supporter of JStreet, is also financing the left-leaning Media Matters, widely accused of anti-Semitism.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 3/11/2012, 11:39 AM

J Street Logo
J Street Logo
J Street

Bill Benter, billionaire and prominent supporter of JStreet who made his fortune on horse-gambling in Hong Kong, has been discovered to be financing the left-leaning media watchdog organization of Media Matters, The Daily Caller (DC) reported on Sunday.

Benter, has been funding the research center that has been widely accused of espousing anti-Israel and anti-Semitic rhetoric, at least in part, to ensure that the organization’s M.J. Rosenberg be retained as its voice on foreign policy. 

Rosenberg has been the object of much contentious debate due to his initiation of the term “Israel-firster,” accusing American Jews of dual loyalty and a primary allegiance to the State of Israel.

“I have been a contributor to Media Matters for many years and am proud to support the important work that it does fighting for truth in media, working for more honest political discourse and promoting our shared progressive values,” Benter told The DC. 

Yet, despite his claims that Media Matters works toward promoting an “honest political discourse,” many view the organization as encouraging the very opposite ideals.  

Alan Dershowitz, law professor at Harvard University, recently declared war on Media Matters, claiming that the organization will be responsible for Obama losing the election if the administration continues to maintain these anti-Semitic alliances.  He vowed that he will “personally make [the issue] an election matter.”

In an article in the Daily News on February 27, Dershowitz compared Rosenberg’s allegations to those voiced by the Nazi and Stalin regimes.  “This false accusation of disloyalty to country was a central tenet of Nazism, Stalinism and other anti-Semitic regimes. Today, it is the mantra of Jew haters and neo-Nazis,” he said.

“Media Matters Action Network paid Rosenberg $129,568 in 2010, plus $4,505 in other compensation. That organization is one of Media Matters’ political arms. It is tax-exempt under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code,” The DC stated.

In response to a question posed by the DC to Benter’s intermediary, Matt Dorf of Rabinowitz of Dorf Communications, regarding whether Benter possibly solicited funds for Media Matters’ (c)(4) affiliate to help pay Rosenberg’s salary, Dorf said the question was “exactly the right question” and that he would ask Benter to directly respond, the DC reported.

While JStreet prides itself as being “pro-Israel” and “pro-peace,” many Jews believe that the funded organization, supported by Soros, actually undermines the interests of the State of Israel and the values J Street claims to uphold.. Several American Jewish leaders have objected to JStreet’s positions, which include accusing Israel of committing war crimes, suporting the infamous Goldstone Report and being responsible for the failure of the peace process, and have publicly disassociated themselves from the organization.

Benter became the center of public inquiry when it was discovered that he solicited an $811,697 donation to J Street from a mysterious Hong Kong donor named Consolacion Esdicul. At the time of Esdicul’s donation, it was J Street’s largest, reported The DC.

Benter issued a statement claiming that much of his “philanthropic activity over the past several years has focused on preventing war and creating peace through education, scholarship and advocacy, not only in the Middle East but around the world.” “I want to make it absolutely clear, I would never support or condone anti-Semitism in any form,” he said.