Another Kumbaya Moment

j-street-moneyI could not help but gush at the recent news that showed how effectively J-Street, the peace loving, pro-Israel alternative to AIPAC, has managed to bridge gaps between Arabs and Jews. This heart warming news was reported by the Jerusalem Post after perusing J-Street’s Federal Election Commission filings:

The J Street political action committee 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…

J-Street has raised a whopping $111,000 so far this year and its contributors include Finance Committee members ($10k minimum contribution) Richard Abdoo, a current board member of Amideast and a former board member of the Arab American Institute, and Genevieve Lynch, who is also a member of the National Iranian American Council board. The Jerusalem Post also notes smaller contributions by representatives of the Saudi Government, members of the State Department, several leaders of Muslim student groups, Saudi- and Iranian-born Americans, and Palestinian- and Arab-American businessmen. Kudos go out to J-Street for bringing these disparate voices together in support of it’s staunchly pro-Israel agenda!

And J-Street isn’t just about building bridges. No sir. J-Street is also about helping friends out. Remember that poll back in March 2009 commissioned by J-Street? You know the one that showed how American Jews were surprisingly supportive of J-Street’s agenda? The poll administered by the firm of Gerstein | Agne? Well, it turns out that Jim Gerstein, principal at Gerstein | Agne is, according to J Street’s 990 IRS form, J-Street’s Vice President. Gerstein’s presentation on J-Street’s Web site as an impartial analyst is probably a reflection of his humility and has nothing to do with perceptions of impartiality that may arise should that information become more apparent. Whatever the case may be, it is clear that Gerstein is a friend of J-Street and vice versa, and again, I am touched by this wonderful example of friends helping friends. Gerstein gets a nice high profile gig and J-Street gets rigorously administered polls and analysis. OK, so the numbers don’t quite mesh with other impartial polls, so what? What are you trying to say? Why must you be so cynical??

Come. Lets build a camp fire and start singing “Kumbaya.”

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About the author


Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.


  • Where’s the picture from? The Arabic text makes no sense (as it is all in final letters), and I can’t figure out what مالس means, either. Anyone?

  • All of these so-called “American” Muslims, “Americans” born in Arab countries, and Iranians (just as bad as the Arabs) are double agents out to hijack US policy for their own hateful, money-grubbing ends. Think they’re any different than those filthy Arabs over there? A leopard doesn’t change his spots.

    Why Bush didn’t expel this terrorist scum en masse after 9/11 is beyond me.

    • Now, now. Don’t be putting words into my mouth. I didn’t call anyone a terrorist or claim that anyone was out to hijack US policy. And lord knows the term “filthy Arabs” is not part of my lexicon, not even the innuendo of such. I’m just jealous is all. Jewlicious raised about $115,000 this year in order to run the Festival and we never got invited to the White House to shmooze with Barack. WTF man. WTF?

  • This is an outrage.J street needs to work harder at bridging that gap.They did not get any money from C.A.I.R. In all fairness CK if you were a cute little 11 year old you would of got an invite.Tom the Bush family is in bed with to many of them.

  • we never got invited to the White House to shmooze with Barack

    Mind you, they don’t serve kosher there. Also, you’re Canadian, which doesn’t make you prospective electorate, neither does your frank Zionism make for that.

  • It’s great to hear that JStreet has tapped such a strong current of support among both Jews and Muslims sick of endless wars. The only people who should be bothered by this are the fearmongers, semi-literates and yahoos who will no doubt begin filling this comments section with accusations that Jeremy Ben-Ami was actually born in Kenya and supports anti-Semitic “Death Panels.” At least you’re playing to your base, David.

    And “surprisingly supportive”? What was surprising about the fact that American Jews oppose Israel’s policy of settlement building in the West Bank and want Obama to pursue a just peace in the Middle East?

    The results of JStreet’s poll were only “surprising” to those who wanted to maintain the illusion that the majority of American Jews agreed with the paranoid and reactionary policies advocated by groups like the Conference of Presidents or by websites like “Jewlicious.”

    • EV: Nice to have you here Eli. As you can see your predictions have yet to come true. I think the discussion thus far has been quite civil and we have thankfully been spared the ill informed commentary you felt would inevitably arise from my post. I simply thought it was worth noting that J-Street’s pro-Israel platform has not prevented individuals and organizations who have never made a contribution to a pro-Israel organization of any kind, from doing so now.

      As for the “surprisingly supportive” comment, well, yeah. I was kind of surprised. Given the numbers you would think that J-Street already had the strong support of a big huge chunk of the Jewish community. And yet J-Street remains a relatively small operation. Where are the legions of supporters donating oodles of cash to J-Street so that it may further its agenda? Their numbers struck me as smoke and mirrors and completely out of whack with my experience. Well now it turns out that not only did J-Street commission the poll, but they wrote the questions, conducted the poll, analyzed the results and then carried out promotional campaigns with the findings. Now I know why their polls almost always complement their policies. And that is also why I was not surprised that a similar recent poll of Jewish Democrats, one that was not, to my knowledge, administered by a partisan polling company, varied wildly from J-Street’s findings. Read the links EV. I’m not making this up. Nor am I foaming at the mouth. And please by all means show me how Jewlicious is paranoid and reactionary. I like to think that I am a realist. For one, I live in Israel. I’ve also been to the areas administered by the Palestine Authority and had some pretty frank conversations with people on the street as well as members of the Palestinian Parliament from Fatah, to the DFLP and even to Hamas. Some of my dearest friends and drinking buddies work for a number of International humanitarian groups in the territories. I dare say I am hardly paranoid and certainly not reactionary. I know our perceptions of reality don’t mesh and that your Manhattan perspective differs from mine, but dude. try to be fair. Jewlicious is hardly a homogeneous monolith and ask anyone that has ever written here if I ever told them what and how to write. Once they get a user name and password, they can write whatever they like. And besides, what do we advocate? A cautious support of a two-state solution seems to be the consensus. Ooooh! Paranoid! Ooooh! Reactionary! I think you need to stop projecting your perceptions onto actual reality.

      As for you Muffti, you noted that “It’s interesting that similar complaints have been raised about James Zogby who is head of the arab american institute, who is a senior analyst for Zogby Polling AND who is brother of the founder of Zogby Polling, John Zogby.” Where did you read that? Was it possibly in the favorable article TM wrote about James Zogby? The complaints raised about James Zogby didn’t come from us. Zogby International is one of the most professional, reputable and respected polling firms in the the US. They would never pull a stunt like the one pulled by Jim Gerstein. He didn’t just run J-Street’s poll, he also provided the analysis of the numbers! That’s a completely chumpy move to make! It leaves the poll results so open to criticism that no remotely reputable firm would ever do that. These firms are hired in the hopes of producing impartial and relevant data, and sure even within those parameters there’s plenty of room for fudging and manipulation, but you can’t be so blatant about it. And the active deception! Gerstein’s connection to the organization has been scrubbed from their Web site. Coincidence? i don’t think so.

      Muffti wrote some not very well thought out stuff but concluded “It may perhaps be wiser, however, in the future for Jstreet to use polling companies that don’t raise the eyebrows w/r/t conflict of interest.” Ahem. So we agree there muffster.

  • ck you can always ask bernard madoff for a generous donation.

    and by the way sarcasm is not your forte, stick to making light of the suffering of gaza arabs

    • I thought they were Palestinians, not Arabs, and CK doesn’t actually make fun of those but hate-driven nitwits like you.

  • lol Aipac spent millions on dubious stuff and not a peep from anyone despite money laundering and scams such as the bernie one

    but j street accepts money from arabs and bam, they are bad guys

  • “I thought they were Palestinians, not Arabs”

    lol, so froylein what you are saying is that the palestinians are right, they are a separate entity and deserve their own state.

    froylein bashing J street is hypocritical considering the fact that jews have been invovled in god knows how many scandals recently

    did J street break any laws, no

    so what if J street took money from arabs, doesnt israel buy natural gas from egypt?

    and doesnt israel have a million arab citizens?

    if accepting money from arabs is suspicious, then your state of israel is a fucking sham of a democracy where the word “arab” is associated with everything bad

    AIPAC has been involved in many bribery cases and you people know it

    people in glass houses shouldnt throw stones

    • I’ve never denied that Palestinians, or rather the group of people that adopted the Latin name of the province sometime after their arrival there (after the Crusades, which are well documented and there’s not the slightest mention whatsoever of those people even in Arabic-language / Muslim sources) are an entity; Palestinian folklore has it that they stem from pirates in the Mediterranean. That folklore also knows their country of origin to be today’s Greece, but alas, due to the adoption of the Islam alongside the Quran, the original Palestinian language died out and there are no known written documents in that language either (if they were a pirate people, written language likely wasn’t needed as the need for written language first arose in agricultural societies).

      Now, you assume that being an entity alone merits a state. Look at France, Spain, Scotland, Ireland, Belgium, the US, Central and South America, Canada, Russia, Germany etc. to see plenty examples of how ethnic entities are not granted their own states. And those entities do not condone of terrorist activities against civilians of the dominating culture. Rather, most of those entities manage to live pleasantly peaceful among their non-fellow-ethnic compatriots and yet have managed to preserve their original cultural identity and languages. The occasional separatist movements are not usually backed by the majority of those entities, and approval of terrorist activities is a fringe phenomenon.

      Also, you try to apply a few individual’s wrongdoings and hold them against all Jews. That is profound and simple anti-Semitism by any standards of racism research. You’ll be hard pressed to find such gross and stupid generalisations towards Muslims, Palestinians and Arabs by any of the contributors on here, even by those that I would consider not my taste and too hardline when it comes to the Israeli/Palestinian issue. This has got nothing to do with J-street and [dis]approving of their agenda.

      I’d also like to explain the difference between donations and trade. Organisations, companies, individuals and states donate to causes they hope will push their interests forward. In foreign trade, goods are exchanged for goods or money. Since J-street apparently hasn’t got any goods to sell, the donors try to encourage and support their policy. If you look into the comment threads on several posts here, I’m about the last person on here to deliberately ignore and be indifferent towards donors / sponsors if their background is shady.

  • EV

    Your insulting aside, You never responded to any of the blatant falsehoods portrayed by the Jerk street. I mean, if you are taking money from a guy, and he is your VP, how can his firms polls mean anything at all?

    And we are hardly a right wing rag. We represent diverse opinions, sorry to be so threatening.

    J Street needs to come clean.

  • It’s interesting that similar complaints have been raised about James Zogby who is head of the arab american institute, who is a senior analyst for Zogby Polling AND who is brother of the founder of Zogby Polling, John Zogby.

    But simply noting a connection like this in order to heap suspicion is rather lame — in general polls are commissioned by interested parties. So anytime a poll comes out that is commissioned by a party and favours that party’s agenda you can heap similar sh*t upon it and them. It may perhaps be wiser, however, in the future for Jstreet to use polling companies that don’t raise the eyebrows w/r/t conflict of interest — maybe Jstreet could hire Zogby and Zogby could hire Gerstein? 🙂

  • On that note, Muffti would like to announce that his recent polling (source: Muffti’s Poll) has found the following results

    EV has a big butt?
    Yes: 100%
    No: 0%

    CK smells like po?
    Yes: 100%
    No: 0%

    Muffti is just allright, oh yeah?
    Yes: 100%
    No: 0%

    Should one expect good art if it is described by it’s creator’s as ‘stereotype shattering’?
    Yes: 0%
    No: 100%

    Margin for error: +/- 2%

  • froylein – actually, during most of the Bush years, the Hannukah Menorah lighting ceremony at the White House was accompanied by kosher food.

    • Food or snacks? There’s a world of a difference. 🙂 However, the recent WH Passover Seder was kosher-style…

  • Kosher-style on pesach? That makes you think…

    Anyway, I think it was actual food, but I’m not sure. In any case there’s an interesting story behind it. Apparently, during the first lighting ceremony, some members of a certain Jewish denomination demanded that non-kosher (non-hechshered?) food be served, in addition to kosher food. The different tables had signs on them to indicate which had kosher food and which did not – and not everything went so smoothly and people ended up eating non-kosher food, unknowingly. So Laura Bush ‘decreed’ that from then on it would only be kosher…

  • Muffti’s pretended to be a lover wisdom when, as we can all see, he’s actually a distinguished political scientist.

  • That’s brilliant! Let’s see if I get it. ck writes a sarcastic post about how J Street’s agenda dovetails with the agendas of people who normally are not friends of Israel and therefore whose motives for support can at least be discussed.

    The response from the J Street supporters?

    That people who read this blog or who dare to raise these questions are either yahoos and semi-literates or that AIPAC is a criminal organization which behaves unethically.

    Good stuff, J Street! I like the way this organization fights hard for peace even if it means vilely besmirching anybody whose views are different.

    I would like to propose a new slogan for J Street:

    J Street: Subtlety may not be our forte, but we’re the experts at throwing out the baby with the bathwater!

  • If you were a Muslim US citizen and, while no friend of Israel, fully supported the policies of the current administration, giving to J Street would be a pretty good idea, no? If you think Obama is anti-Israel, or J Street is, then why not forthrightly say that?

    It demonstrates a, let’s call it naivete, about American life to imply, as ck does, that ethnic divides overseas are direcly reflected in ethnic populations here. If it were otherwise, we’d view FDR as fully justified in sending Japanese-Americans to internment camps. And Jews have a certain, you know, experience with accusations that they use money and influence behind the scenes to bend government policy to their will. Innuendo is not ‘discussion.’

  • So now this EV character claims to speak for American Jews? I don’t speak for American Jews but I can guarantee most American Jews don’t care one way or the other about settlements. Only the big mouths care one way or the other.

    Oh, and JStreet are a bunch of dicks.

    I hope I spelled everything correctly.

  • Actually Muffti first saw complaints about Zogby related to obabma at various angry right wing sites like this one and here. Muffti actually had totally overlooked TM’s article (sorry amigo!). So stop being so presumptuous! Muffti’s not saying that he trusts these dudes who are complaining but notice that they are saying all the same things you are saying about the Jstreet polling.

    This isn’t to say that Jstreet hasn’t been up to some funny business – their polling questions seem questionable for example. But that’s true of nearly all polls so the complaint here is a perfectly general one about polling. Whcih is what muffti has been saying all along.

    • Muffti: They are saying these things because J-Street pulled a sneaky but boneheaded move and gave them the ammunition to do so. Just because these sites are generally loathsome doesn’t mean they’re always wrong. And yes, many polls use questionable polling questions and that sort of criticism is rather common coming from opponents of the poll results. However, the issue isn’t the leading questions. The issue is the perception of impropriety when you have a client actually directly running and analyzing their own poll. For instance, a poll you and EV may have issue with was recently released by the UJC – the headline: Study: Most Children of Intermarriage Enter College with No Jewish Connection. They found that “Of students with two Jewish parents, 93 percent identified themselves as Jews, though that figure dropped to 91 percent if their parents divorced… But only 38 percent of the teens identified as Jews if just their mother was Jewish, and only 15 percent if their father was Jewish.” The person running the study and the analysis was Professor Linda Sax at UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute. The study was funded by Hillel and North Carolina philanthropists Leonard and Tobee Kaplan. The impartiality of the study rests on the reputation of Prof. Sax and if it turns out that she is also a VP at the UJC, well, well… Here’s the UJC’s analysis. Read it and critique it muffster and EV I’d sure be interested in your comments. Feel free to compare and contrast the methodology with J-Street’s study.

  • Muffti thinks you nailed it…the PERCEPTION of impropriety. Just like Zogby has the PERCEPTION of impropriety when they did polls that seem to support Obama or the aims of the arab american institute… But discrediting these guys by the perception of impropriety as opposed to taking a look at the numbers and seeing if the analysis is incorrect, well, that’s just kinda lazy thinking, dude. Muffti takes the same attitude to UJC studies…if Prof. Sax turned out to be a UJC VP, he would think there is some reason to take a look at the study and its methodology but that he had no straightforward reason to reject its results.

  • Muffti: Perception is very important. In law as well. They used to tell us that “…not only must justice be done, it must be seen to be done.” Zogby International is a massive polling firm while Jim Gerstein’s is more a Little Bo Peep operation. What Gerstein did was completely unprofessional by industry standards. And if you’ll note I did look at the numbers and compared them to both my personal experience (not very persuasive) and to another survey (more persuasive) that polled Jewish Democrats about their opinions on the Middle East. What’s weak is arguing with me and not actually reading what I wrote. The Sax study isn’t “recent.” It’s from 2002 and the data is from 1999. You’d know that if you were paying attention 🙂

  • Muffti did read what you wrote – conflicting with 1 study doesn’t exactly make a strong case…and hwat hurts is aht you didn’t read waht Muffti wrote – where did he say that the Sax study was recent? You’d know muffti didn’t say that if you were paying attention 🙂

    • Sigh. I wrote that the Sax study was recent. As for the other study, the one that polled Jewish Democrats, I was simply comparing and contrasting one study where the person running and analyzing it is partisan, to another study where there were no allegations of potential conflict of interest and the results were dramatically different. Bottom line muffster et al., J-Street fucked up. Gerstein fucked up. You already said as much, so why are you arguing with me?

  • Even an Arabic 101 student would recognize this Arabic is completely incorrect. Do 5 minutes of research next time.