J Street, the phony ‘pro-Israel’ lobby which consistently takes positions opposed to Israeli interests — such as opposing sanctions on Iran, calling for an immediate cease-fire at the beginning of the Gaza war, favoring negotiations with Hamas — was severely criticized for taking money for its PAC from people associated with Arab and Iranian interests. But the majority of its funding was still assumed to come from liberal Jews.
There has always been a suspicion that George Soros, the anti-Zionist billionaire who was involved in the creation of J Street as an ‘alternative to AIPAC,’ also provided some of the funding. But both parties realized that a relationship with the anti-Israel Soros could be the kiss of death for J Street, and so both Soros and J Street denied that he was a major funder.
Now it has become clear that this was a lie. In a brilliant piece of investigative journalism, Eli Lake writes,
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.
When asked about Ms. Esdicul, the Happy Valley, Hong Kong based donor of nearly half the group’s revenue for the 2008 to 2009 fiscal year, [J Street Executive Director Jeremy] Ben Ami said she gave J Street the money in multiple wire transfers at the urging of William Benter, a Pittsburgh-based philanthropist and the chief executive officer of Acusis, a medical services firm.
“She is trying to make the Middle East a Happy Valley,” Mr. Ben Ami said. “She is a business associate of Bill Benter and Bill solicited her for the contribution.” Happy Valley is a Hong Kong suburb.
This is weird, but there’s not much more in the article about Esdicul and Benter. So here are a few things I found:
Benter is listed as having made $136,300 of political contributions in the 2008 cycle, mostly to Democratic politicians and causes (including, of course, Soros’ MoveOn.org). But he also gave $2,300 to the presidential campaign of antisemitic wacko Ron Paul.
Now it begins to get surreal. Benter is a mathematician:
He employed a variety of econometric modeling techniques to examine an important financial market — the horserace betting market in Hong Kong. He developed a successful computer-based econometric model to forecast outcomes in this market.
He’s been called “the most successful horse racing player in modern times“:
Benter’s software program works so well, it’s riled the Hong Kong Jockey Club, the powerful organizer behind Hong Kong’s $10.7 billion-a-year horse-racing circuit. The Jockey Club thinks Benter and other professional betting syndicates hold an unfair advantage over casual gamblers. It’s closed the accounts of some of the pros in the past because it felt they were “not in the best interest of the general public.” While not banned from the track entirely, Benter has not been allowed to place bets over the phone since 1996.
No matter. He and his buddies still usually bet about $260,000 each race, and make an average return of 24%. Let’s do the math: There are some 600 races a year at Hong Kong’s Sha Tin and Happy Valley racetracks. That means Benter’s annual take-home pay amounts to $37 million. — Yulanda Chung, Smartgambler (2000)
Here’s a photo of Happy Valley and the track there:
It would make sense that perhaps Consolacion Esdicul, whoever she is, has received some profitable tips from Benter. And she was happy to distribute some of it in accordance with his wishes. Nothing illegal here, folks. Just move on. These are not the droids you’re looking for.
Benter and Soros have a lot in common. Soros, too, is a gambler, although he specializes in the international currency market. Indeed, several academic papers compare the strategies of Soros and various hedge funds with those of Benter.
I think there’s more to come. Stay tuned!
Update [2113 PDT]: Regarding ‘Happy Valley’, Wikipedia says:
Early settlers had suggested the area to be used as a business centre, but the suggestion was put off due to the valley’s marshy environment, which was causing fatal diseases. The death rate in the area and Victoria City was high in the early colonial days, and the valley became a burial ground for the dead. As a result, the valley was renamed as Happy Valley, a common euphemism for cemeteries.
I guess this explains Ben Ami’s comment that “She is trying to make the Middle East a Happy Valley.”