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Monday, October 4, 2010


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Why does Soros matter?

Why does it matter whether George Soros is funding J Street? Well, for starters because Soros is toxic in the American Jewish community. In a 2003 speech, he accused Jews and Israel of causing Antisemitism.

It's not often that George Soros, the billionaire financier and philanthropist, makes an appearance before a Jewish audience.

It's even rarer for him to use such an occasion to talk about Israel, Jews and his own role in effecting political change.

So when Soros stepped to the podium Wednesday to address those issues at a conference of the Jewish Funders Network, audience members were listening carefully.

Many were surprised by what they heard.

When asked about Antisemitism in Europe, Soros, who is Jewish, said European Antisemitism is the result of the policies of Israel and the United States.

"There is a resurgence of Antisemitism in Europe. The policies of the Bush administration and the Sharon administration contribute to that," Soros said. "It's not specifically Antisemitism, but it does manifest itself in Antisemitism as well. I'm critical of those policies."

"If we change that direction, then anti-Semitism also will diminish," he said. "I can't see how one could confront it directly."

That is a point made by Israel's most vociferous critics, whom some Jewish activists charge with using anti-Zionism as a guise for Antisemitism.

ASSOCIATES said Soros' appearance Wednesday was the first they could ever recall in which the billionaire, a Hungarian-born U.S. Jew who escaped the Holocaust by fleeing to London as a child, had spoken in front of a Jewish group or attended a Jewish function.

The one-day meeting on funding in Israel, which took place at the Harvard Club in New York, was limited mostly to representatives of Jewish philanthropic foundations.

After Soros' speech, Michael Steinhardt, the real-estate magnate and Jewish philanthropist who arranged for Soros to address the group, said in an interview that Soros' views do not reflect those of most Jewish millionaires or philanthropists.

He also pointed out that this was Soros' first speech to a Jewish audience.

Steinhardt approached the lectern and interrupted Soros immediately after his remarks on Antisemitism.

"George Soros does not think Jews should be hated any more than they deserve to be," Steinhardt said by way of clarification, eliciting chuckles from the audience.

Steinhardt then gave the lectern back to Soros, who said he had something to add to his remarks on the issue of Antisemitism. Soros then paused to ask if there were any journalists in the room.

When he learned that there were, Soros withheld further comment.

Because Soros is considered toxic, J Street denied that he was funding them.

From the J Street website:

Liberal financier George Soros founded and is the primary funder of J Street.

George Soros did not found J Street. In fact, George Soros very publicly stated his decision not to be engaged in J Street when it was launched - precisely out of fear that his involvement would be used against the organization.

J Street's Executive Director has stated many times that he would in fact be very pleased to have funding from Mr. Soros and the offer remains open to him to be a funder should he wish to support the effort.

J Street has thousands of donors, large and small. The supporters of the political action committee (JStreetPAC) can be publicly reviewed on the website of the Federal Election Commission. The top donors to J Street are members of the organization's Finance Committee - listed in its annual report on page 9 (PDF). Many of its major donors are also members of its Advisory Council.

The part of the website dealing with Soros had not been updated for three years, until last night.

J Street confirmed that it added a new "Myth" last night: that "J Street has said it doesn't receive money from George Soros, but now news reports indicate that he has in fact contributed." A disclosure of Soros' donations follows below on the page, which you can see here.

Ironically, J Street tried to use Lenny Ben David - who like me is Sabbath observant and therefore was not online when this story broke - as cover for having disclosed their connection to Soros in the past. UPDATE: A J Street spokesperson says Ben-Ami has acknowledged Soros's donations to reporters on numerous occasions and suppled this as published evidence of prior acknowledgment: Occasional Jerusalem Post columnist Lenny Ben-David, a critic of J Street, wrote that Ben-Ami had previously acknowledged Soros funding at a small gathering in Florida. In a comment posted to an op-ed Ben-Ami placed in the Jerusalem Post in January, Ben-David commented:

Last month Ben-Ami spoke before a group of donors in FL where, according to participants, he admitted that financier George Soros was a founder and funder. The JP already exposed pro-Arab, pro-Iran donors.
Saturday, September 25, 2010

Who the heck is Consolacion Ediscul?

Another lie that was exposed by Eli Lake on Friday was the claim that most of J Street's money came from small donations by American Jews. In fact, aside from the 15% that came from George Soros, 50% came from a woman in Hong Kong named Consolacion Ediscul.

The group's 990 forms -- which I've also obtained and put online for the first time here -- show the group's single largest contribution, in the odd sum of $811,697 coming from one Consolacion Ediscul of Happy Valley, a Hong Kong suburb. Ediscul, whose name is Filipino, has no presence on Google or Nexis aside from this story, and people I spoke to in Jewish groups left and right had never heard of her.

Spokeswoman Amy Spitalnick tells me the same thing the group told Lake:

She is a business associate of Bill Benter, another J Street supporter from Pittsburgh who solicited Consolacion's gift. It's a large gift, but it should be put in the context of the $11.2 million the J Street family of organizations has raised over the last 2.5 years (full details below).

Ediscul's contribution was just about half of the $1.6 million the group received during the year in question. Spitalnick says that they haven't received any other contributions from Ediscul, and that their operating budget over the last three years for the group's "family of organizations" is $9.5 million.

It is, to say the least, unusual that a group would get half its budget from a foreigner doing a favor to a business associate. I left a message for Benter, who heads a medical transcription company, to ask about how that came about.

Benter, as it turns out, is one of the world's most successful betters on horse races, and Happy Valley, a Hong Kong suburb, is the location of one of the world's largest horse race tracks.

The irony....

President Obama and the White House have expressed concerns about untraced foreign influence on the U.S. political system through donations to tax-exempt "501(c)(4)" nonprofit organizations in recent months.

J Street is a 501(c)(4) organization that is allowed to remain tax-exempt as long its political activities are not the primary purpose of the group. J Street also has formed a political action committee, or PAC, the standard way for interest groups, corporations and labor unions to contribute directly to political candidates and parties.

Mr. Ben Ami said he agreed with Mr. Obama "about the need for overall reform of the influence of money in our system. But 501(c)(4)s are allowed to accept money from foreign nationals."

So as Obama is off crusading against the imagined threat of conservative foreign-funded third-party groups, here’s J Street, with its close ties to the administration, caught red-handed.

And we already know that J Street took Arab money - Saudi in particular - as well. Can you say "hypocrisy"?

If you'd like to see some pictures of Ms. Ediscul, you can find two here. Professor Jacobson also asks an important question at the end of that last post:

The commenter who noted these pages referred to The Advantage Trust as being related to Blackrock investments, but it appears to be controlled by or at least related to William Benter, the successful businessman / gambler mentioned in the Ben Smith post. So if the elusive Ms. Esdicul contributed to the charity in Honk Kong on behalf of The Advantage Trust, was her contribution to J-Street also using money from The Advantage Trust and/or Benter?

Or perhaps from someone else.

To sum up,

So, while JStreet has portrayed itself, and has been portrayed by many in the media, as a reaction of liberal American Jews against AIPAC, half its funding in its launch year came from someone in Hong Kong, and another 15% from the Soros family.

And here's another lie from J Street:

By the fall of 2006, he and Morton Halperin—former aide to Presidents Clinton, Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson—were meeting with representatives of America’s leading Zionist dove organizations, on the one hand, and of liberal foundations and donors on the other. Perhaps the most eagerly awaited participant at a meeting they held on October 25 was Hungarian-born financier and philanthropist George Soros. Soros had founded the Open Society Institute, where Halperin served as director of American advocacy. Though Jewish and a Holocaust survivor, Soros has rarely donated to Israel-related causes and had provoked an uproar a year earlier by harshly criticizing AIPAC in The New York Review of Books. Still, Ben-Ami hoped the billionaire activist would back his still unnamed project, drawing enough attention and additional donors to amass the several hundred thousand dollars he estimated was needed to launch.

Soros, too, knew what his backing could mean and had his answer ready: It was “no.” He “walked into the room with a prepared statement that announced that he would not be a part of the project because he felt his involvement would be counter-productive,” as Ben-Ami explains (and Soros has confirmed in print). Those concerns were borne out. Some opponents still think of J Street as a covert Soros project. In a rueful nod to J Street’s lingering Soros taint, Ben-Ami gripes good-naturedly, “We got tagged as having his support, without the benefit of actually getting funded!”

But of course, when Moment Magazine published that article in its March/April 2010 edition, J Street had gotten funding from George Soros - and lots of it. More on Soros to come. posted by Carl in Jerusalem @ 10:04 PM
Another Soros-front group exposed

by: Thomas Lifson

The progressive Jewish group J-Street, which purports to represent "moderate" Jews opposing "hard line" Israelis, has been revealed to be a Soros front, receiving Soros money and lying about it. Thus, J-Street joins left winger Jim Wallis's group Sojourners as lying religious group fronts for Soros.

Eli Lake reports in the Washington Times:

The Jewish-American advocacy group J Street, which bills itself as the dovish alternative to the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee(AIPAC) lobby, has secretly received funding from billionaire George Soros despite previous denials that it accepted funds from the Hungarian-born financier and liberal political activist.

Tax forms obtained by The Washington Times reveal that Mr. Soros and his two children, Jonathan and Andrea Soros, contributed a total $245,000 to J Street from one Manhattan address in New York during the fiscal year from July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009.

The contributions represent a third of the group's revenue from U.S.sources during the period. Nearly half of J Street's revenue during the timeframe - a total of $811,697 - however, came from a single donor in Happy Valley, Hong Kong, named Consolacion Esdicul. [...]

Mr. Ben Ami [J-Street's executive director] said his group had no qualms about getting money from Mr. Soros.

"I am very, very proud that our movement and what we are trying to do is aligned with the values and principles of George Soros and we are proud to have his support," he said.

Mr. Ben Ami said Mr. Soros "made the public decision not to support us once we launched. Once we got started, he provided us with some money."

Mr. Ben Ami's words on Thursday contrasted sharply with statements on the J Street website concerning the group's receipt of funding from Mr. Soros.

In a section of the website called "myths and facts," the group includes a passage that reads: "George Soros very publicly stated his decision not to be engaged in J Street when it was launched - precisely out of fear that his involvement would be used against the organization."

After Mr. Ben Ami spoke with The Times, the website was abruptly amended Thursday night with an addition that stated: "J Street has said it doesn't receive money from George Soros, but now news reports indicate that he has in fact contributed."

So roughly 70% of the J-Street funding comes from two sources -- wealthy leftists. I have no idea who Consolacion Esdicul is, but I can't help wondering if he has any connections to Soros.

The revelation should destroy the credibility of J-Street as a legitimate group. It is an AstroTurf operation, and lies about itself.

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at September 26, 2010 - 08:49:39 PM CDT

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