J Street has revealed itself to be about as honest as it is pro-Israel. And another day brings about another report of the lobbying group's anti-Israel actions -- and its dishonesty. Today, Eli Lake and Ben Birnbaum report in the Washington Times that J Street facilitated Richard Goldstone's recent visit to Capitol Hill and that a person affiliated with the liberal lobbying group resigned over this move.
Goldstone, of course, is the controversial author of the UN sanctioned report bearing his name, which accused Israel of using "the more than 8,000 rocket attacks on its civilians merely as a pretext, an excuse, a cover for the real purpose of Operation Cast Lead, which was to target innocent Palestinian civilians -- children, women, the elderly -- for death," as summarized by the liberal pro-Israel advocate Alan Dershowitz.
This latest story, which exposes J Street's facilitation of Goldstone's visit, has brought about even more evasiveness from J Street. Here's the statement that J Street gave the reporters from the Washington Times that they are claiming contradicts the thrust of the Times piece:
J Street did not host, arrange or facilitate Judge Richard Goldstone’s visit in November 2009.
Well, that does certainly contradict the Times report. Maybe J Street has a point? Wait ... there's more:
Judge Goldstone held a series of meetings in Washington that were coordinated and facilitated by the Middle East program at the New America Foundation and the Open Society Institute. 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. 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.
Wait a second. How is this distinguishable from helping to "arrange or facilitate" Goldstone's meetings?
According to the Washington Times, it was enough for one affiliate of J Street to resign:
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."
Oddly, Avital is now denying that she told the reporters this. But the reporters maintain that they have the tape to back it up, and Avital's story only changed after she spoke with J Street about the situation. Hmm.
J Street is in a self-righteous huff, claiming that "The right-wing attack machine is in full gear." What this means is not really clear. Of course, it's convenient for J Street to shoot the messenger -- the folks reporting the stories. But really people are just outraged that a group that would operate under the pretense of being pro-Israel would do the things that it did. Why did J Street act in the manner that they did if they aren't willing to defend themselves? Probably because what they've done is indefensible for a group that masquerades as being pro-Israel.
Update: The Washington Times journalists have released the audio of their call with Avital. It confirms their story, and it's accessible here.