Analysis: J Street is master of double-speak

By David Hazony, September 28, 2010
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What are we to make of the recent revelations thatJ Street has been receiving large donations from George Soros? Critics say the organisation previously lied when they said he wasn't involved, while J Street adamantly denies ever having denied it.

A stroll through J-Street's "Myths and Facts" page on their website may shed some light. It is a study in double-talk. One "myth" disclaimed, for example, is that the organisation "favours the US negotiating with Hamas". But after conceding that Hamas terror is "reprehensible", they quickly remind us that Hamas "has an important... base of support within Palestinian society", and that J Street "would not oppose" efforts by the US to "find unofficial, indirect ways to engage Hamas…"

More important is their effort to debunk the "myth" that J Street is funded by foreign sources. On the contrary, we are told, "Nearly all of J Street's funding comes from Jewish Americans". Yet according to IRS files revealed by the Washington Times, the largest single donation in a recent tax year - over $800,000 - came from businesswoman Consolacion Esdicul of Hong Kong.

So when J Street grapples with the Soros scandal - yes, it's already on their Myths and Facts page - we find exactly the same kind of obfuscation.

"J Street has always said that George Soros did not found J Street and did not provide its initial funding," we are told. "J Street has also always said that it would be very pleased to have funding from Mr Soros."

Yet in the same breath we are told that "In fact, the organisation has received approximately $250,000/year in funding from the Soros family since launching."

Since launching? That makes him look an awful lot like a founder. And as I understand English, "would be pleased" to have funding implies they are not currently receiving funding.

None of these are minor quibbles. Every act of double-speak belies their self-promotion as a pro-Israel product of the US Jewish community. It makes them look like they've been less than forthright about where the money's coming from. It is not a large step to wonder whether they've been straightforward about their aims as well.

People have a right to know the main sources of funding for publicly active organisations, especially those which might be trying to affect a domestic debate with foreign money. This is true for an Islamic Cultural Centre at Ground Zero; it is true for the huge NGOs operating in Israel with massive European Union funding; and it is no less true for J Street.

David Hazony is the author of 'The Ten Commandments: How Our Most Ancient Moral Text Can Renew Modern Life'

Last updated: 2:12pm, September 28 2010