The far-left, United States-based, Israel lobby J Street is losing support both within the Obama administration and from its own members, according to the Washington Times. The change was attributed to J Street's connections to Judge Richard Goldstone, and to the recent revelation that most of its funding comes from two far-left donors.
It was found that in 2008-2009, almost half of J Street's funding came from a single donor, Ms. Consolacion Esdicul of Hong Kong. Esdicul gave $811,697.
The group also received a total of $750,000 from George Soros and his family between 2008 and 2010. J Street had previously denied that Soros was involved in the organization. Soros is a controversial figure who has previously given to Arab groups, but not to Israel, and has funded U.S. liberal groups such as MoveOn.org. He criticized former U.S. President George Bush for refusing to accept a Palestinian Authority ruled jointly by Fatah and Hamas.
Virginia Republican Representative Eric Cantor told the newspaper that the sources of J Street's funding prove that “they are not reflecting the mainstream position of the pro-Israel community in America.”
“Nor do I think they help benefit the U.S.-Israel relationship,” he added.
White House officials would not say whether or not they plan to continue close ties with J Street. Previously senior officials in the Obama administration have attended J Street events and J Street's senior staff have been invited to take place in White House events.
J Street director Jeremy Ben-Ami admitted this week that his statements regarding Soros' relationship with J Street had been “misleading.” He argued that while Soros and Esdicul together provided more than half of the group's funding in 2008, altogether, the two are responsible for providing less than 15% of the aid given to J Street since it was first established.
J Street's Goldstone Ties Lead Former MK to Quit
A second issue has driven away former J Street supporters as well. Former MK Colette Avital, who until recently served as the J Street liaison in Israel, recently resigned from her post – a decision that she said was due in part to J Street's involvement with Judge Richard Goldstone. Goldstone led a United Nations Human Rights Commission team in investigating the Israeli Cast Lead counterterror operation in Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009.
Israeli officials did not take part in the UNHRC investigation due to concerns over past political bias, but the Goldstone team wrote a report anyway, basing their findings on testimony from Gaza Arabs living under Hamas, and from extreme-left Israeli organizations. The final report harshly condemned Israel, while carefully avoiding terming Hamas a terrorist group. It also went beyond its original mandate to condemn other Israeli operations. Goldstone's conclusions upset even members of some of the Israeli groups that had cooperated with the commission.
J Street helped to arrange meetings between Goldstone and members of Congress, Avital said. She later rescinded her statements in a conference call arranged by Ben-Ami, however, her initial statements were preserved on an audio recording.
She told the Times that she does not want to speak badly of J Street, saying, “Honestly, I think they have enough problems as it is.”
Ben-Ami said that his group had not arranged Goldstone's visit, but admitted that J Street staff “spoke to colleagues at the organizations coordinating the meetings [with Goldstone] and, at their behest, reached out to a handful of congressional staff to inquire whether members would be interested in seeing Judge Goldstone.”
J Street believed it would be “a good idea” for Goldstone to meet members of Congress, he added. He declined to say which members of Congress had met with Goldstone.