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Friday, October 01, 2010

J Street tried to help Goldstone reach out to Congress

The Washington Times reports that J Street, the pro-Obama lobby that claims to be Jewish and pro-Israel, attempted to introduce Judge Richard Goldstone to members of Congress in a bid to get the hopelessly biased Goldstone Report accepted by the United States.
Colette Avital — a former member of Israel's parliament, from the center-left Labor Party and until recently J Street's liaison in Israel — told The Washington Times that her decision to resign her post with J Street earlier this year was a result in part of the group's "connection to Judge Goldstone."

"When Judge Goldstone came to Washington, [J Street leaders were] suggesting that they might help him set up his appointments on Capitol Hill," she said. Ms. Avital later disavowed knowledge of J Street's dealings with Judge Goldstone during a conference call arranged by J Street's president, Jeremy Ben-Ami.


In a statement provided to The Washington Times this week, Mr. Ben-Ami said, "J Street did not host, arrange or facilitate any visit to Washington, D.C., by Judge Richard Goldstone."

He went on to say, however, that "J Street staff spoke to colleagues at the organizations coordinating the meetings and, at their behest, reached out to a handful of congressional staff to inquire whether members would be interested in seeing Judge Goldstone."

He added, "We believed it to be a good idea for him and for members of Congress to meet personally, but we declined to play a role in hosting, convening or attending any of the meetings."

When asked later how many congressional offices had been contacted, a J Street staffer told the Times that it was "two or three." Mr. Ben-Ami later said he did not remember reaching out to Congress at all.

A senior officer of J Street, however, played a central role in arranging Judge Goldstone's visit.

Judge Goldstone told The Times in an interview that he had sought the meetings after a discussion with longtime friend Morton H. Halperin — president of the Open Society Institute (OSI) and one of five senior officers at J Street, according to the group's federal tax returns. Those forms list Mr. Halperin as a "director," and say he spends 10 hours a week on J Street business.

"He suggested — and I agreed — that it would be a good idea for me to meet with some of the leading members of Congress," Judge Goldstone said. "I thought it was important to correct the misimpressions." He added that Mr. Halperin had hand-delivered a personal letter he had written to members of Congress.

Judge Goldstone said he remembers attending "10 or 12" meetings. J Street co-founder Daniel Levy, who accompanied the judge to several of the parleys, said that the New America Foundation (NAF) — whose Middle East Task Force he co-chairs — had also hosted a lunch with Judge Goldstone for "a group of analysts and Middle East wonks." The judge, Mr. Levy, and J Street all declined to identify the members of Congress.

All three organizations associated with Judge Goldstone's visit to Washington — J Street, NAF and OSI — receive substantial funding from Hungarian-born billionaire George Soros, a fierce critic of AIPAC and Israeli policies.
Yes, in Israel, even Collette Avital cannot afford to be associated with Judge Goldstone. He's reviled here - and with good reason.

J Street released two blog posts within minutes of each other on Thursday morning that accuse the Times of lying.
First, the notion that Ms. Avital resigned her post with J Street is completely false. She remains a consultant to us and will be on a speaking tour for our organization in four cities in the Midwest for a full week in October. She and we told the Washington Times this on Thursday, yet hearing it from both of us apparently wasn’t enough to persuade those bent on attacking us from publishing fiction in what some might call a newspaper.

Further, Ms. Avital made it very clear that she had no knowledge that J Street had anything to do with Judge Goldstone’s visit to Washington yet the paper devotes prominent space to charging that we “facilitated” his visit – and she is supposedly their sole source.
The second post is a letter from Collette Avital.
I am shocked and appalled to read the account in the Washington Times supposedly reporting on my role with J Street. I am not sure what has happened to the standards of journalism in the United States since the years when I proudly served the Government of Israel as Consul General in New York, but the article in Friday’s paper represents little more than the fabrication of the minds of writers with a political agenda

I spoke at length to two reporters from the Washington Times Thursday afternoon and told them in no uncertain terms that I did not resign from J Street. In fact, I will be speaking on the organization’s behalf in the coming weeks in the United States and remain proudly affiliated with the group in a consulting role.
Further, I made clear that I was and am completely unaware of any effort by J Street to facilitate visits by Judge Richard Goldstone to Capitol Hill.

I do not know how it is possible for a newspaper to run a story like this after I have specifically told them they have the story wrong.

In my role as a liaison for J Street in Israel, I discussed with J Street officials the deep feelings in Israel about the Goldstone Report. I recommended last November that the organization not have any relationship with the Judge and that they oppose the report. I told the Washington Times clearly yesterday that I knew that J Street had no role in arranging the Judge’s visit. I also made it clear that my role changed with J Street earlier this year because the organization had changing priorities – not because I left the organization, which I have not.
Well, it seems that the liar here is Collette Avital. The Washington Times has an audio here and about two thirds of the way through she cites J Street's 'connection to Judge Goldstone' as a reason that she left the organization (the tape quality is unfortunately not very good, but the mention of Judge Goldstone comes through quite clearly).

More from Jennifer Rubin here.


At 3:12 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

They have no shame and are not embarrassed by the latest revelations.

Pro-Israel certainly not. And any one who pushes the Goldstone Report forward is not pro-peace.

That's J-Street to a T.


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