Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The George Soros conspiracy theorists are back!This week they think they’ve won a long hard battle against the “self hating Jew group,” J Street.
Last week, the founder of J Street (a self-named pro-Isreal policy advocate group for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict), Jeremy Ben-Ami, was forced to admit, after lying about it since J Street was founded three years ago, that J Street received donations from George Soros, after the Washington Post published the group’s tax receipts confirming that Soros was a donor.
Ben-Ami now admits that Soros and his two children made a $750,000 gift from the Soros family to his organisation made over three years, and that his white lie could have been more truthful.
I accept responsibility personally for being less than clear about Mr. Soros’ support once he did become a donor. I said Mr. Soros did not help launch J Street or provide its initial funding, and that is true. I also said we would be happy to take his support. But I did not go the extra step to add that he did in fact start providing support in the fall of 2008, six months after our launch.
Pam Geller, critc of Soros and J Street says Soros’ funding J Street has been obvious all along.
“Of course it was Soros. George Soros vowed years ago to start an anti-Jewish organisation under the nefarious guise of a Jewish organisation, in order to counter the influence of the American Israel Political Action Committee…
“Of course, it was common knowledge that J Street was an anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, fringe organisation that no one took seriously.”
Until Ben-Ami wrote this explanation and confessed to the Washington Times last week, J Street’s founder had maintained that Soros definitely was not a donor and that anyone who said so was attacking J Street with another of many unfounded rumours. This is the intro from JStreet’s “Myths and Facts” section:
Since our founding, accusations about J Street and our leadership have morphed from whispered lies to stated fact in attacks on J Street in various right-leaning publications, organisations, and blogs.
Why would J Street lie about Soros being a donor?
Some people just like their charitable donations to remain anonymous, but that’s not what happened in this case.
Michael Vachon, a spokesman for Mr. Soros, said the billionaire “has made no secret of his support for” J Street.
The confusing statement is not the first of this story’s many twists and turns.
For example, J Street says on its “Myths and Facts” page that Soros in fact wanted to remain uninvolved with the agency, at least initially.
From their “Myths and Facts” section:
George Soros did not found J Street. In fact, George Soros very publicly stated his decision not to be engaged in J Street when it was launched – precisely out of fear that his involvement would be used against the organisation.
Soros’ involvement could be “used against the organisation” by people who believe that Soros supported the Nazis. Soros maintains that when he was 14, he posed as a Christian to survive, and later he escaped from the Nazis. (A controversial interview he gave to 60 minutes explains the story of his time with the Nazis.)
Also controversial is Soros’ policy on Israel.
When the Washington Post asked David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, why J Street would lie about their support from Soros, he said:
“I can only assume [J Street officials] have concluded that associating George Soros with an allegedly quote-unquote ‘pro-Israel organisation’ may not be convincing to many who have followed George Soros and his views on the Middle East.”
Soros’ views on the Middle East open up another can of worms, but we’ll paraphrase what he’s talking about because it’s important to the story of why J Street and Soros would keep their dealings secret. Basically, Soros is seen as toxic to the American Jewish community because he suggested that Israel’s policies contributed to global anti-Semitism.
We can concede that it’s understandable why J Street would not want to scream about their Soros donations.
But why scream about their un-involvement with Soros?
Because now, thanks to the Washington Times, their attempted cover-up is out in the open:
Last week Ben-Ami made the public announcement that Soros “made the public decision not to support us once we launched. Once we got started, he provided us with some money.”
Mr. Ben-Ami’s words on Thursday contrasted sharply with statements on the J Street website concerning the group’s receipt of funding from Mr. Soros.
In a section of the website called “myths and facts,” the group includes a passage that reads: “George Soros very publicly stated his decision not to be engaged in J Street when it was launched — precisely out of fear that his involvement would be used against the organisation.”
And there are a lot of people that really care about this, who will be enraged by J Street’s lies and how Ben-Ami explains his lying: I didn’t lie, I just should have been more clear.
Soros-funded projects are already divisive in the Jewish community. It seems like they tend only to be supported by Jewish progressives, and that admitting to receiving funding from Soros would derail many of their advocacy efforts.
But its hard to imagine that admitting Soros’ involvement 2 years ago or even 6 months ago, of their own will, would have invited more criticism on J Street than it’s already been dealt by those accusing Soros of being its biggest backer. And taking their chances with probing attacks come at them from left and right seems risky, so why keep lying? All of this leaves the Soros conspiracy theorist in us hungry for more information.
But we’re not sure there is any. This seems like a case of J Street and Soros not wanting to appear connected for the reasons stated above, telling a white lie, and then sticking by their word for the sake of being political and not detracting from their cause.
Of course that totally backfired. The only time we seem to hear about J Street doing anything is when J Street is or isn’t getting funding from Soros, so given that situation, we’re more likely to believe that all they do is generate press and be happy that they’re getting any at all.
In the end, what we have is a collision of voices who all want to do the right thing for the Jewish community, but disagree on how to do it.
On one side, there’s this argument, given to the Washington Times in a separate article:
Mr. Cantor, the only Jewish Republican in the House, added that “I am hopeful this revelation will now cause people to begin to ignore what they say. 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.”
On another side, this one, from that same article:
“I don’t know anything about George Soros’ funding, but I do know J Street is an organisation that has effectively lobbied on the Hill for peace in the Middle East, for Israel, the Palestinian people and the United States of America and that is win, win, win,” countered Rep. Steve Cohen, Tennessee Democrat and a J Street supporter.
Meanwhile J Street and Soros critics maintain that J Street is anti-Isreal and prompt J Street to constantly defend themselves, like they do here on a blog post from September 26:
They attack us as anti-Israel. As self-hating Jews. They equate us with the worst enemies of the Jewish people.
And the White House just wants to step away from it all. Speaking of which.
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