J Street’s Interesting Friends
One of the first pieces of advice given to investigative journalists is: Follow the money trail. That dossier has now been prepared for J Street, which bills itself as a pro-Israel, pro-peace organization.
For years J Street denied any connection to billionaire financier George Soros, whose contempt for Israel has never been disguised, only to eventually admit that Soros and family were its principal early backers. Soros, it turns out, is but the best known of J Street’s interesting friends. Another is Genevieve Lynch, a director of NIAC (National Iranian-American Council), whose D.C. lobbying efforts dovetail neatly with those of the Iranian government. She has given over $10,000 per year to J Street and sits on its finance committee. Another repeated contributor is Turkish-American businessman Mehmet Celeb, the producer of the Turkish film Valley of the Wolves, described by the Wall Street Journal as a cross between American Psycho in uniform and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
A 2010 J Street visit to Israel was partially sponsored by Churches for Peace in the Middle East, a group supportive of the BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) movement. J Street maintains close ties with the Arab-American Institute, whose president James Zogby already explained on Jordanian TV in 1990 how an Arab Lobby could conquer America by allying with the Left, particularly Jewish progressives.
State Department Arabists have been the most active opponents of Israel within the American government since before the creation of the state. U.S. ambassadors to Arab countries tend to spend the rest of their lives as paid lobbyists for their former hosts. A large number of them show up on the list of contributors to J Street and as members of its advisory board. Among the contributors: Ray Close, former CIA station chief in Saudi Arabia and subsequently an advisor to Saudi intelligence; Lewis Elbinger, former State Department officer in Saudi Arabia; Nicole Shampaine, director of the State Department Office for Egypt and the Levant. And among the J Street advisory board members: Ted Hattouf, former ambassador to Syria and the United Arab Emirates: Robert Pelletreau, former ambassador to Egypt, Tunisia, and Bahrain; and Philip Wilcox, former counsel general in Jerusalem (which is independent of the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv).
Could it be that what J Street calls its “pro-Israel” agenda is seen by its supporters as the opposite? It has lobbied against Iranian sanctions, and J Street Director Jeremy Ben-Ami wrote an op-ed with the director of NIAC Trita Parsi entitled “How Diplomacy Can Work with Iran.” J Street squired Richard Goldstone around Capitol Hill to promote the report from which he has now retracted the most damning condemnations of Israel. It has lobbied against a congressional resolution condemning the incitement in Palestinian media and textbooks. And in the same vein, it sponsored a U.S. tour of the director of UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) in Gaza, an organization that exists solely to perpetuate the Palestinian refugee problem and whose schools are full of anti-Israel incitement. For good measure, the last J Street conference even featured a session on boycotting Israel-produced goods.
J Street’s strange partners are certainly getting their money’s worth.