“J Street” is a collection of leftists with a history of harsh criticism of Israel. It claims to represent the “sensible mainstream of pro-Israel American Jews,” but as I showed here, J Street in reality is grossly out-of-step with mainstream (i.e., liberal) American Jewish thinking on Israel.
J Steet is, however, something of a hit among certain American Arabs and Muslims. In fact, it has received tens of thousands of dollars in donations from dozens of Arab and Muslim Americans, as well as from several individuals connected to organizations doing Palestinian and Iranian issues advocacy.
For example, it received contributions of at least $10,000 from Lebanese-American businessman Richard Abdoo, a current board member of Amideast and a former board member of the Arab American Institute, and from Genevieve Lynch, who is also a member of the National Iranian American Council board. Smaller donors include several leaders of Muslim student groups, Saudi- and Iranian-born Americans, and Palestinian- and Arab-American businessmen who also give to Arab-oriented PACs.
According to the Jerusalem Post, Arab and Muslim donors are extremely rare for organizations that describe themselves as supporters of Israel, as J Street does. Even Americans for Peace Now, many of whose positions are the same as J Street’s, reports that all of the group’s major donors are Jewish. APN also returns checks from obvious anti-Semites; J Street will take money from anyone.
It should be noted, though, that the pro-Palestinian Arabs and Muslims who are contributing to J Street would be hard-pressed to exceed the hostility of the organization’s Jewish leaders toward Israel. For example, Avrum Burg, an Israeli who is active in the group, has said that “to define the State of Israel as a Jewish state is the key to its end” and has compared contemporary Israel to pre-Nazi Germany. Another key J Street member, Henry Siegman, has compared Israel to apartheid South Africa, and has accused Israeli leaders of having the U.S. government “in their pockets.”
No wonder Arab and Muslim activists are finding J Street to be an interesting place to invest their money.
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