We at THE WEEKLY STANDARD are interested in learning more about a previously unknown (at least to us!) Hong Kong resident who generously donated $811,967 to the liberal lobbying group J Street. Here's what we know about her: The woman's name is Consolacion Esdicul, but she goes by the diminutive Connie. She appears to be a resident of Happy Valley, Hong Kong. Esdicul is, according to J Street, an associate of Bill Benter, a famously successful international gambler.
The liberal lobbying group J Street, which has operated under the pretense of being pro-Israel, has really taken a hit in the last week. Eli Lake of the Washington Times uncovered that, despite J Street’s longstandinginsistence to the contrary, the group has received significant funding from financier George Soros and his children. Additionally, the same report revealed that J Street received $811,967, from a woman named Consolacion Esdicul, a resident of Happy Valley, Hong Kong and an associate of Bill Benter, a hugely successful international gambler.
The self-described “pro-Israel, pro-peace” J Street has always insisted that its funding comes entirely from Americans, and largely from American Jews. The group has also made a point of knocking down speculation that it takes money from liberal financier George Soros, who has never been particularly supportive of the State of Israel.
Ben Smith reports today that Joe Sestak is distancing himself from the J Street sponsored, "infamous" (in the words of the Orthodox Union), anti-Israel letter accusing Israel of "collective punishment" for defending itself against Hamas terrorists bent on murdering Israelis. Collective punishment is specifically designated as a war crime by the Geneva Conventions, and the term's use was rejected by all but 12 percent of the House, all Democrats now known as the Gaza 54. That number dropped to 53 when Yvette Clark distanced herself from the letter almost immediately after it was sent to President Obama.
Former Democratic New York City mayor Ed Koch tells THE WEEKLY STANDARD that he supports the legal right to build mosque near Ground Zero but believes the mosque is "insensitive" to 9/11 survivors and their families.
How does J Street welcome Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to town? By politicizing American support for Israel. In a new ad said to air nationally (on al-Jazeera English maybe?), the group makes a silly attempt to ‘juxtapose’ those who say ‘yes’ to peace with those who say….well, it’s tough to find anyone in the U.S. who opposes peace, so J Street just slanders staunch supporters of Israel whose staunch support offends their delicate sensibilities.
Over the last 18 months, there’s been a lot of debate about the Obama administration’s strategy in Israel – not whether it’s working (you can’t find anyone in town to make that case), but what it seeks to achieve.
Last week, the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC announced it was supporting letters circulating Congress – a House version and a Senate one – supporting the Jewish state’s right to defend herself and reaffirming American support of its liberal democratic ally in the Middle East. The Senate letter is led by Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and GOP Leader Mitch McConnell. In the House, Republican Ted Poe and Democrat Gary Peters, joined by Steny Hoyer and Eric Cantor and Howard Berman and Illeana Ros-Leithene, are leading the effort.
For most Christians, Lent is a season of penitence and devotion in remembrance of the events leading to Christ’s crucifixion. For Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), Lent is an organizing tool for rallying U.S. Christians against Israel.
CMEP is releasing a series of Lenten devotionals, culminating with the current Holy Week, that supporters are urged to disseminate to their local churches. Each devotional has an explicit or implicit critique of modern Israel or message of solidarity with Palestinians.
"The thing that troubles me is that they don't present themselves as to what they really are. They should not call themselves pro-Israeli," Danny Ayalon, the deputy to hard-line foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, told Jewish leaders today.
It's funny because that's what troubles me, too. Of course, Ayalon can be less than diplomatic at times. He was last seen dressing down the Turkish ambassador on Israeli TV, but he did offer a humble apology for that, promising the use of "more acceptable diplomatic means" in future protests. J Street isn't likely to ask for any such apology and is even less likely to get one. Still, I can make a well educated guess about what the group will say -- Ayalon has "no right to decide who is and is not pro-Israel based on whether they agree with your views." At least that's how J Street responded to Abe Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League, when he questioned the group's pro-Israel bona fides.
The "new," "progressive" voice of the "pro-peace and pro-Israel" lobby known as J Street has had its "pro-Israel" label questioned by many observers, and even some of its own have shed that label. J Street has now also revealed it doesn’t keep its word to trusting Jewish organizations.
On Thursday, February 4, 2010, J Street launched a new "grassroots" division—J Street Local—with an event at the University of Pennsylvania, which was webcast to twenty other locations.
Bashar Al-Assad, according to his good buddy Sey Hersh, praises the "pro-Israel, pro-peace" lobby J Street. This, according to notes Hersh took last December, now online at the New Yorker. Speaking on the topic of "Criticisms of some Israeli policies at the J-Street founding conference," the Syrian tyrant said:
Ahh … that is new!… But we should educate them that if they are worried about Israel, then the only thing that can protect Israel is peace, nothing else. No amount of airplanes or weapons could protect Israel, so they have to forget about that.
J Street releases its first round of endorsements for the 2010 elections. Most of the seats are relatively safe, as far as I can tell, so it should be easy for the lobbying group to claim victory, though the outcome will have nothing to do with their endorsement. Any way, here's who not to support for Congress: