Washington Post Errs on J Street

The Washington Post’s “Biden discusses ‘frustration’ with Israeli government,” (April 20, 2016) by reporter Carol Morello, omits important information on J-Street, a non-profit organization that is consistently critical of Israeli government policy but reluctant to fault Palestinian non-compliance with negotiated commitments.

The Post, noting remarks made at a major April 15, 2016 J-Street event by Vice President Joseph Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry, called the organization a “self-defined ‘pro-Israel, pro-peace’” group. “Self-defined” is correct, but does not go far enough as CAMERA has pointed out on numerous occasions (see, for example “J Street’s Unreported Pro-BDS Partner,” June 18, 2015) this description fails to fully detail J Street’s history of one-sided anti-Israel criticisms, partnerships with anti-Israel and anti-Western organizations and the obfuscation employed by the group regarding its funding.

The Post quoted J Street’s president and founder, Jeremy Ben-Ami, but failed to note his history of dubious statements. Ben-Ami early on denied that billionaire financier George Soros provided major funding for J Street. As a Sept. 30 2010 article by The Washington Post (“J-Street’s wrong turn on its ties to George Soros”) noted, such denials were buttressed by “the group’s Web site [which] suggested that J Street had received no funding from George Soros…”
Funded by an opponent of the Jewish state

Yet, the 2010 Post article pointed out that “confidential tax records mistakenly made public by the Internal Revenue Service seemed to undermine those characterizations….The tax records…showed that Soros and his family had contributed $245,000 to J Street in 2008, and J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami acknowledged that the group has received $500,000 more since than as part of a three-year gift.” In other words, J Street and its president were caught lying about the group’s backers—a fact previously noted by The Post, but omitted in Morello’s article which treats him nonetheless as a credible source.

As CAMERA has noted, Soros is a frequent backer of anti-Israel causes and organizations and is himself hostile to the idea of a Jewish state (“Telos Group Promotes Anti-Zionist Narrative in Evangelical Community,” March 18, 2014).

Further, a more complete look at J Street casts doubt on its “pro-Israel,” “pro-peace” claim.
Alliances with non-‘pro-Israel, pro-peace’ groups

J Street has partnered with Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)—an organization described by the Anti-Defamation League as “the most influential anti-Zionist group in the United States”—to fight legislation aimed at protecting Israel from discriminatory economic tactics pushed by the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS). BDS’ presents itself as opposed to Israel’s control of the West Bank, but its fundamental aim is the deligitimization and elimination of the Jewish state. As CAMERA pointed out (“Terror Analyst: Ties Exist Between Hamas-linked charities and BDS,” April 22, 2016), congressional testimony delivered the day before Morello’s article provided evidence of links between the BDS movement that J Street has allied itself with and Hamas, the U.S.-designated Palestinian terror group that calls for the destruction of Israel and genocide of the Jews in its charter.

J Street also has partnered with the pro-Tehran National Iranian American Council (NIAC) a group that has consistently fought U.S. economic sanctions against Iran for its presumed illegal nuclear weapons program. The Islamic Republic funds terror groups whose objectives include the destruction of Israel, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, and it routinely calls for the destruction of the Jewish state. In other words, J Street has stood with those who advocate sanctioning the Middle East’s lone democracy, Israel, and against those who have sought to sanction the repressive, theocratic regime in Tehran.

J Street’s claims—repeated uncritically by The Post—to be “pro-peace” and “pro-Israel” fall into disrepute when a cursory examination reveals that the group’s criticisms are almost uniformly one-sided and directed against Israel. As CAMERA has noted, a J Street statement by Ben Ami described “all or most of the Palestinians killed during the fighting between Palestinian militants in Gaza and Israel as ‘civilians.’ In fact, nearly all were fighters, and many were killed while trying to fire rockets indiscriminately into Israel cities (“J Street Calls Palestinian Rocket Squads ‘Civilian,’ March 11, 2012).

How any of this would qualify as “pro-Israel” is not explained by The Post.
About those ‘settlements’

Similarly, the paper uncritically repeats misleading and false statements made by speakers at the J Street gala.

Post reporter Morello quotes Vice President Biden’s comments at the gala that alleged “steady, systematic expansion” of Israeli communities in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) are causing Israel to move “toward a one-state reality, and that reality is dangerous.” Yet, unmentioned by The Post is the fact that these Jewish communities comprise no more than 6 percent of the land in the West Bank. Moreover, they are only expanding from natural growth—they are not, contra to Biden’s statement, expanding externally at rapid rates.

Continuing the pattern of stenography, The Post repeated Sec. of State Kerry’s statement, “We will continue to try to advance a two-state solution, the only solution”—and Kerry and Biden’s implication that Israel has obstructed this goal. Post coverage of Biden’s and Kerry’s remarks at J Street referred three times to a proposed “two-state solution.” In a fact that once again goes unmentioned by The Post, it was the Palestinian leadership that rejected U.S. and Israeli offers for a “two-state solution” in 2000 at Camp David, 2001 at Taba and 2008 after the Annapolis conference. Similarly, Palestinian leadership rejected Kerry’s “roadmap” to restart negotiations in 2014 and Biden’s proposal in March 2016. In every single instance it was Israel which was willing to negotiate or putting forward a peace proposal. In every single instance it was the Palestinians who rejected the potential opportunity for statehood—frequently opting instead for violence.

As former deputy national security adviser Elliot Abrams noted in his blog for the Council on Foreign Relations (“Biden’s Untimely Assault on Israel,” April 19), a New York-based think tank, the remarks at the J Street event occurred on the same day as a bus bombing in Jerusalem. The attack, later claimed by Hamas, injured 21 people. “Palestinian factions from across the political spectrum” celebrated the bombing, noted The Algemeiner (“Palestinians Openly Praise Jerusalem Bus Bombing,” April 19, 2016).

Not surprisingly, Palestinian celebrations of anti-Jewish violence seemed to have been unmentioned at the J Street gala. If otherwise, The Post failed to record them.

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