J STREET

May 13, 2011

The Following article originated at and is taken from DiscoverTheNetworks.com

Founded in April 2008, the Washington, DC-based J Street describes itself deceptively as “the political arm of the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement.” The “J” in the organization’s name connotes, in part, its predominantly Jewish character. The name is significant also because no J Street exists among Washington’s alphabetically named streets—but if it did exist, it would run parallel to K Street, which is famous for the lobbyists and advocacy groups that base their activities there.

J Street, which sees itself as an anti-AIPACconsists of both an advocacy group that seeks to influence public opinion and foreign policy, and a political action committee (PAC) that donates money to various causes.

J Street was founded “to promote meaningful American leadership to end the Arab-Israeli and Palestinian-Israel conflicts peacefully and diplomatically.” Key to this, says J Street, will be the pursuit of “a new direction for American policy in the Middle East,” a direction that recognizes “the right of the Palestinians to a sovereign state of their own”—where Palestine and Israel live “side-by-side in peace and security.” Toward this end, J Street supports “diplomatic solutions over military ones” and “dialogue over confrontation.” Israel’s partner in such a dialogue would necessarily be Hamas, which holds the reins of political power in Gaza and denies Israel’s right to exist.

J Street traces the Mideast conflict chiefly to the notion that “Israel’s settlements in the occupied territories have, for over forty years, been an obstacle to peace.” Those settlements, adds J Street, have “undermine[d] peace prospects by making Palestinians doubt Israeli motives and commitment.”

During the 2008-09 conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, J Street acknowledged that "Israel has the right and obligation to defend its citizens from short and long-term threats, such as [the Hamas] rocket attacks" which had been launched at Israel in large numbers. But the organization also warned that Israel’s choice to “escalat[e] the conflict” inevitably “will prove counter-productive and only deepen the cycle of violence in the region.” “[I]n the end,” J Street said, “the only way to truly halt rocket fire into southern Israel is a diplomatic solution.”

Moreover, J Street cautioned against Israeli efforts to topple Hamas, on grounds that the latter “has been the government, law and order, and service provider since it won the [Palestinian] elections in January 2006 and especially since June 2007 when it took complete control.”

In the 2008 U.S. election cycle, J Street’s PAC officially endorsed 41 congressional candidates, 39 of whom were Democrats. All told, the PAC distributed $578,812 to their campaigns. Among the more notable candidates to win J Street’s support were several members of the Democratic Party’s socialist wing, the Progressive Caucus. Those members included Representatives Keith Ellison, Bob Filner, Michael Capuano, Barney Frank, Maurice Hinchey, Charles Rangel, Jan Schakowsky, Hilda Solis, Steve Cohen, George Miller, and Robert Wexler.

J Street proudly declares that it works “united with other organizations in the pro-Israel, pro-peace community,” citing specifically:

  • Brit Tzedek v’Shalom (a.k.a. Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace)
  • Israel Policy Forum
  • B’Tselem
  • Americans for Peace Now, which alleges that Israeli provocations are responsible for the conflict with Palestinians

George Soros supported J Street’s creation and was formally associated with the organization for a brief time after its inception. Before long, however, Soros stepped away from the group—at least in terms of his public association with it—for fear that his controversial reputation might scare off other potential supporters. But behind the scenes, he remained a powerful influence. From 2008-2010, the billionaire and his two children—Jonathan and Andrea—gave a total of $750,000 to the organization. J Street kept this Soros funding secret from the public until the Washington Times revealed it in September 2010.

J Street’s Advisory Council includes a number of individuals with close ties to Soros. Among them, as of March 2011, were the following:

  • Patricia Bauman, president and co-director of the Bauman Family Foundation, and a member of the Soros-funded  Democracy Alliance;
  • Gail Furman and Deborah Sagner, board members of the Democracy Alliance;
  • Davidi Gilo, member of the Democracy Alliance;
  • Sheldon Drobny, co-founder of the Soros-funded Air America Radio;
  • Maria Echaveste, senior fellow at the Soros-funded Center for American Progress, board of directors member of the Soros-funded People for the American Way, and board of advisors member of the Soros-funded American Constitution Society;
  • Morton Halperin, senior vice president of the Center for American Progress and director of Soros’ Open Society Policy Center;
  • Robert Malley, a director for the Soros-funded International Crisis Group, on whose board and executive committee Soros himself sits;
  • Eli Pariser, executive director of the Soros-funded MoveOn.org.; and
  • Herb and Marion Sandler, members of the Democracy Alliance

Other notable members of the J Street Advisory Council, as of March 2011, were: 

  • Eric Alterman, a CUNY journalism professor who has lauded Soros;
  • Peter Edelman and Larry Garber, high-ranking officials of the New Israel Fund;
  • Marcia Freedman, the founding president of Brit Tzedek v’Shalom;
  • Robert Greenwald, Hollywood producer and director;
  • Marilyn Katz, former activist with the Students for a Democratic Society and the New American Movement; and
  • Ricken Patel, co-founder and executive director of Avaaz.org.

J Street identifies Avram Burg as one of its leading supporters. Burg says that “Israel, having ceased to care about the children of the Palestinians, should not be surprised when they [suicide bombers] come washed in hatred and blow themselves up in the centres of Israeli escapism.” He also likens modern-day Israel to Nazi Germany.

In October 2009 President Barack Obama, highly supportive of J Street, sent National Security Adviser James Jones to give the keynote address at a J Street conference.

In December 2009 Michael Oren, Israeli ambassador to the United States, said that J Street “not only opposes one policy of one Israeli government, it opposes all policies of all Israeli governments.” In addition, Oren noted that the group opposed sanctions against Iran, whose president (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) had repeatedly and unequivocally expressed his desire to obliterate the State of Israel.

J Street chose not to reject the UN’s Goldstone Report (authored by Richard Goldstone), which asserted that Israel had committed war crimes during its 2008-09 Gaza campaign against Hamas. Indeed, J Street staffers actively promoted Goldstone's meetings with members of Congress. Moreover, the organization backed the crusade to delegitimize Israel by the UN's "Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People."

In March 2011, journalist Elliot Jager noted that "J Street since its founding has opposed every measure Israel has taken to defend its citizens," including the construction of the West Bank security barrier; the military response to Hamas's bombardment of the Negev; and the interception of the Turkish flotilla led by the Free Gaza Movement in May 2010. Said Jager: [O]ne is hard put to discern any policy differences whatsoever between the stated positions of J Street and the Palestinian Authority or the PLO.... Both oppose Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state."

At a J Street plenary session in early 2011, co-founder Daniel Levy, discussing the U.S. policy implications of the recent uprisings that had swept the Middle East and had brought down the regimes of Egypt and Tunisia, said:

"[I]f we’re all wrong and a collective Jewish presence in the Middle East can only survive by the sword, it cannot be accepted, it’s not about what we do.... They [Muslims] hate us for what we are, not what we do. If that’s true, then Israel really ain’t a very good idea." 

A key J Street member is Jeremy Ben-Ami, who has close ties to President Barack Obama and was previously senior vice president at Fenton Communications.

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