The connections between J Street and the Dark Side of the Middle East are becoming more and more evident. Recently it was revealed that the anti-Zionist George Soros was a large contributor, although J Street had categorically denied that until now. But even more interesting was the fact that the single largest contribution to J Street in 2008-9 — $811,697 came from an unknown woman in Hong Kong, Connie Esdicul. Here she is with my favorite martial arts guy:
Jeremy Ben-Ami of J Street explained that Esdicul was an associate of Pittsburgh multimillionaire and software entrepreneur William Benter, and contributed the money “at his urging”. Benter may have made as much as $27 million a year by applying computer modeling techniques to Hong Kong horse-racing, and has been called “the most successful horse racing player in modern times”. All this appeared in my previous article, but now we’ve found out more about him.
An anonymous contributor to the Israeli ‘scoops forum’ at rotter.net [Hebrew] noticed that Benter is also a member of the advisory board of the Rand Corporation’s Center for Middle East Public Policy (CMEPP). This is interesting for several reasons.
CMEPP’s board president, Richard Abdoo — a former board member of the Arab-American Institute (AAI), who gave J Street PAC $11,500 in the 2008 cycle, is a director of AMIDEAST, an ‘educational’ organization that “strengthens mutual understanding and cooperation between Americans and the peoples of the Middle East and North Africa” (except Israel). AMIDEAST’s primary funder is the Saudi Aramco oil company.
Also sitting on the CMEPP advisory board is another AMIDEAST board member, Odeh Aburdene. Aburdene was a Vice President of Occidental Petroleum, and a member of the Task Force In Support of Arab Democracy (a group sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations, along with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf of Ground Zero mosque notoriety).
Others include Ray Irani, Occidental CEO. His wife, Ghada, is yet another AMIDEAST director. And Nicholas Veliotes has a seat on the boards of both J Street and AMIDEAST. This is like a 19th-century Russian novel.
The Rand Corporation has close ties with the CIA, an organization that, together with the State Department, includes some of the most anti-Israel circles in the US government. Immediately prior to the 1967 war, the CIA advised President Johnson not to airlift military supplies to Israel, although it was impossible to predict the unlikely event that Israel would succeed in destroying the Egyptian air force on the ground.
We are getting far away from the liberal Jews that Ben-Ami claims as his constituency, aren’t we?
J Street’s Saudi connections were documented by Lenny Ben-David in December 2009:
A member of J Street’s advisory board, Judith Barnett [also an AMIDEAST director — ed.], worked on aspects of the Saudi account for Qorvis in 2004. She was also one of the first contributors to J Street’s PAC and was later joined in the PAC by Nancy Dutton, the Saudi Embassy’s Washington attorney; Lewis Elbinger, a U.S. State Department official who was based in Saudi Arabia; and Ray Close, the CIA’s station chief in Saudi Arabia for 22 years who later went to work for Saudi intelligence bosses. Close’s son Kenneth registered at the Justice Department as a foreign agent, working for Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal, the author of the Saudi peace plan.
Beyond sharing support for the Saudi plan, the J Street-AAI financial and ideological ties also appear to be very tight. Richard Abdoo is a member of J Street’s finance committee with its minimum contribution of $10,000 to J Street’s PAC. James Zogby recently wrote in the Bahrain Gulf Daily, “On October 25,  the Arab American Institute and J Street convened a joint meeting that brought leaders and activists from both communities together as an expression of our shared commitment to advance a just and comprehensive Middle East peace.”
Saudi Arabia, AMIDEAST, the Rand Corporation, the CIA — seriously, now, all you “pro-Israel pro-peace” types: are these the people that you should be supporting?