J-Street is the supposed liberal alternative to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
J-Street has been accused — including by me — of being nothing more than a front group meant to undermine U.S. support for Israel by playing the “balance” card pushed by groups like the Center for American Progress (which runs Think Progress), Media Matters, and a host bloggers and pundits who subscribe to the Walt-Meirsheimer view of foreign policy.
Now it is revealed that George Soros secretly (through his children) has been funding J-Street. As reported by 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.
Jeremy Ben Ami, J Street’s executive director, said in an interview that the $245,000 was part of a $750,000 gift from the Soros family to his organization made over three years. Mr. Ben Ami also said that in this same period he had raised $11 million for J Street and its political action committee.
Update: As reported by Ben Smith:
Perhaps the strangest thing in Eli Lake’s story on the funding of the liberal group J Street is that it got half of its money in 2008-9 from a single, obscure woman in China.
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.
According to Smith, a J-Street spokeswoman says that Ediscul is an associate of a well-known and successful gambler, but provided no other information.
A reader (see comments) located what he believes to be Ediscul’s Facebook profile. It has had no activity since May, and has no friends or entries other than to an online cooking game:
and here being photographed with Jackie Chan at a charity event in Hong Kong:
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?
J Street Shows Its Hand
J Street: Liberal Bloggers Need To Study History, Not Memory