Follow by Email

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


 Mr. Kalle Lasn
Vespasian imposed a Urine Tax (Latin: vectigal urinae) on the distribution of urine from public urinals in Rome's Cloaca Maxima (great sewer) system. ... The buyers of the urine paid the tax.
The Roman historians Suetonius and Dio Cassius report that when Vespasian's son Titus complained to him about the disgusting nature of the tax, his father held up a gold coin and told him, Pecunia non olet! ("Money doesn't stink!"). [1]  
 -- Wikipedia

Mr. Kalle Lasn is a gentleman of Estonian origins now living in Vancouver, Canada.  He edits the very progressive -- I don't think he'd mind my calling it that -- the very progressive magazine Adbusters, which has been credited, by David Brooks and others, with first calling for the Occupy Wall Street movement.

So far so good.  But it is also appears that Mr. Lasn,  in conjunction with his distaste for Wall Street, has taken a strong dislike to Jews (who are, according to him, responsible for much of the ills of the world), and also to Israel, which is ... well, you know the rest;  Alana Goodman of Commentary magazine has given us a full report.

But wait.  This is not the whole story.  In today's New York Times we learn that Mr. Lasn has been pleased to receive substantial sums for his progressive pursuits from a Mr. Robert S. Halper, a Brooklyn-born "retired Wall Street trader," to the tune of $50,000 to $75,000 over the last twenty years.  Just a month ago Mr. Halper wrote Mr. Lasn a check for $20,000.

So there you have it.  Does Jewish money from Wall Street have a smell ?  None that Mr. Lasn can detect.

Monday, October 17, 2011

JStreet's Mr. Ben-Ami is being "straightforward", but I have a better explanation

The Background

My previous posting concerning JStreet showed that, for the only fiscal year that is documented (2008-9),  eighty-seven percent of the group's finances came from just twenty-one sources.  Three of these are members of the Soros family, who together provided $ 245,000.  Nobody else gave anything near that much -- except for a mysterious payment of $ 811,697 from a mysterious donor named Consolacion Esdicul, resident of Hong Kong.

Now various reporters and bloggers have wondered:  how and why would a lady in far-off Hong Kong, hitherto completely unknown to one and all, how and why would this shadowy person step forward and send close to a million dollars to a cause that is not, in any obvious way, her own ? People pay to play, generally.  What is her game here ?

 Well, to Mr. Jeremy Ben-Ami, the self-appointed leader and spokesman for JStreet, there is a "straightforward" explanation for  this apparent mystery:

Some press reports have ... noted a large contribution on our return from a resident of Hong Kong named Consolacion Esdicul. The explanation for this is straightforward. Bill Benter, a philanthropist and political activist from Pittsburgh, is a major supporter of and contributor to J Street. He is a generous donor to a range of causes related to his hometown, national politics and the Arab-Israeli conflict, and a passionate advocate for peace.  
As we were launching J Street, Bill committed to contribute and to help raise substantial funds for the effort should we get it off the ground. One contribution he helped raise was from Ms. Esdicul, a business associate from Hong Kong, where he lives for part of the year and has business holdings.
So here we have it.  The friend of a friend sends $ 800,000, just like that.  What could be more natural, more "straightforward" ?  Actually, we know as little about "Bill" Benter (not Jewish either, apparently) as we do about Ms. Esdicul.  What are their motives ?  Remember, this Esdicul sum of money is substantially larger than the contribution of any of the other presumed billionaires who make up the rest of JS's twenty-one angels.   In fact, the Esdicul money constitutes one half of everything received by JStreet in the only documented accounting that we have of the group.

Ben-Ami is not consistent in his "straightforward" explanation.  In another version, sent to a supporter of his in New York, he writes that "Bill Benter is the source of the donation which came through the account of his business associate in Hong Kong...." So what before was strictly Ms. Esdicul's money is now Mr. Benter's.  Which is it now, Mr. Ben-Ami ?  Liars should have good memories.

Either way, Mr. Ben-Ami is obviously not straightforward at all.  His explanation(s) cannot be taken seriously;  they defy all credulity on their very face,  So here I offer my own surmise of what is behind the "Esdicul" money:

My Surmise

Some time in 2008 a meeting took place somewhere in Pakistan on the subject of the oppressed Palestinian brothers.  A number of sheikhs attended, with one of them presiding, let's call this one Sheikh O.B.L.   A visitor from Palestine came to the meeting with a request for $ 1,000,000 to be spent in a very particular way.  This is what the brother said:
Everyone here knows that the dwarf Zionist entity would vanish from the face of the earth without the criminal support it receives from America, may Allah punish it.   But how do the Zionists get America to support this ugly dwarf so consistently ?  Investigative reporters, some of them Jews themselves, have told the story:  it's the Jew-Zionist lobby, called AIPAC, that  keeps the American government in line on behalf of the Zionists, primarily through the enormous bribes that it dispenses.   Ergo, without AIPAC, no American support to the Zionist entity;  without American support, no Zionist entity. And, Sheikh, we now have it our power to destroy AIPAC, and therewith the dwarf entity !
Now, praise to Allah, the Jews are a race that has no sense of solidarity, no more than the apes and the pigs from which it arose.  A Jew has now appeared in Washington -- he calls himself Ben-Ami, 'Son of the Jews' --  who has taken it upon himself to destroy AIPAC, and we must help him do this !  This Son of the Jews has started a group called "Jew Street," with the following program:  a)  force the Zionist entity to make concessions that will, in fact, destroy it, and b), as a first step, destroy AIPAC.   Now we have investigated this Son of the Jews, who says that he does not like us but who, in fact, is more valuable to us than a thousand of our own martyrs.  His father before him, though calling himself a Zionist, was already valuable to the cause of our people.  This was in the time of Ben-Gurion, the founder of the Zionist entity.  This father was a follower of a European Jew called Jabotinsky, whose group was effective in creating mayhem,  violence,  and confusion among the Zionists.  Just an example:  the Jabotinsky group executed one of the most dangerous Zionists of the time, one Chaim Arlosoroff, in 1933.  Praise to Allah, the Jews are their own worst enemies, and we must be smart enough to take advantage of that.
Now, with just a million American dollars -- a drop in the bucket -- we can help this "Jew Street" outfit get really started.  Obviously, discretion is required.  But I have secured some trusted intermediaries -- among them a female infidel in China -- to handle the transaction.  The infidels wanted a twenty percent commission, but I was able to jew them down to nineteen percent.  In other words, of your million, a full $811,697 will go to this  "Jew Street" group, which, with the help of Allah,  can destroy Satan's AIPAC and Satan's Zionist entity ...
 Now, dear reader, I leave it up to you.  Which explanation do you find more plausible, that of Mr. Ben-Ami, or my own surmise ?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Inner and the Outer Layers of JStreet

Ms. Consolacion Esdicul of Hong Kong
Exactly half of JStreet's 2008 money came from her

[This posting depends in part on details I have previously presented here and here.]

Quite often what you see is what you get.  Sometimes this is not quite true, and sometimes it is not true at all.  At JStreet it is not true at all. In this it resembles certain other shadowy movements  --  the old Communist Party comes to mind, as does the Church of Scientology, and (this is for connoisseurs only) the Lambertistes of France.

Hannah Arendt observed that the Communist movement of her time resembled an onion;  there were layers upon layers of outward appearances that concealed the inner core.  The outer layers were designed to appeal to a great many people who would shrink from the outlandish doctrines and practices of the inner core of the movement.   Even Albert Einstein, among many other men of fame, was ensnared to give his good name to the now-infamous Cultural and Scientific Conference for World Peace, which Moscow organized for their "useful innocents" at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in March of 1949.  Very few of the attending fellow-travelers would have approved of the Gulag, which of course was never mentioned.  The talk was all about peace and justice and a better world.

The outside of the onion

The outer layer of JStreet consists of its professed, ostensible policies:  We are for Israel and we are for peace.  We want two states living side by side in peace.  We want the good life for one and all.  We want democracy there and elsewhere.  We stand for the open society.  Etc.

Such aims are tirelessly enunciated by JStreet's Leader Maximo, a Mr. Jeremy Ben-Ami, among whose main qualifications, according to himself, is the fact that his late father had been a follower of Jabotinsky.  Go figure.  Who appointed Mr. Ben-Ami to this position ?  Nobody I have talked to quite knows.  And who determines JS's policies ?  Nobody has a clear answer.  The one thing that is known is that, notwithstanding all the professions of democratic values, ordinary JS members have no vote on such matters.  

But even here, on the outside, JS's policies can sometimes be seen as hostile to Israel.  As Representative Gary Ackerman noted in January, announcing his break with JS:
The decision to endorse the Palestinian and Arab effort to condemn Israel in the UN Security Council, is not the choice of a concerned friend trying to help. It is rather the befuddled choice of an organization so open-minded about what constitutes support for Israel that its brains have fallen out. America really does need a smart, credible, politically active organization that is as aggressively pro-peace as it is pro-Israel. Unfortunately, J-Street ain't it.
On the whole, however, many of the formal policy pronouncements seem acceptable, or at any rate harmless, to supporters of Israel.  That is the outside of the onion.  Once we penetrate a layer past that, the picture changes dramatically.

The middle layers

The first signs of trouble become apparent when one examines the makeup of JS's "Rabbinic Cabinet."  It seems that some 80 out of 600 members of this Cabinet are identified with groups of the anti-Israel extreme left wing.  One notable Cabinet member was David Mivasair, not only a rabbi but also, simultaneously, a Christian clergyman in Vancouver.  This Rev. Mivasair went on YouTube to declare that the Hamas missiles directed at Sderot were perfectly appropriate, given the (presumed) fact that some of those firing such missiles were (probably) displaced Palestinians from Sderot.  After these pronouncements by the  Reverend Mivasair received publicity on this and other blogs, he withdrew the YouTube video, and also, now, can no longer be found as a Cabinet member of JStreet.

There are close relations between JStreet and the Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions (BDS) movement that wishes to punish Israel.  The last JS Conference organized a special session to discuss the issue, inviting the BDS leaders to explain themselves.  It seems that a good portion, perhaps a majority, of the JS delegates approved of BDS.  NGO-Monitor has provided a comprehensive analysis of JS's ties to the anti-Israel Left.

I have an acquaintance who strongly supports JS, but supports also, he says, the security of Israel.  I asked him why, if JS is so much for Israel, it attracts so many foes of Israel as members and Rabbinical Cabinet dignitaries.  "Well," he opined, "those people -- with whom I in no way agree -- see JS as the place where the action is."  And just what kind of action would that be ?  My friend here gave voice to more than he realized.

Whatever the relationship between its anti-Israel wing and the leadership of JS, it is revealing how the cynical Rabbi David Saperstein, speaking for the JS leadership, explained  its refusal to endorse BDS: “Successful strategy and tactics need to consider not only the theoretical decisions you take but the practical impact of those you choose.”  In other words:  I agree with you folks, but, come on, don't scare away the useful innocents.   The rabbi would have been right at home at the Waldorf conference of 1949.

The inner layer:  where the money is

The world knew nothing about the inner core of JStreet until last September, when Eli Lake of the Washington Times published figures that he obtained from a leaked Schedule B, IRS Form 990 that covers contributions to JStreet for the fiscal year 7/1/08 to 6/30/09.  (The actual forms -- extremely important -- were first put on the internet by Ben Smith)   These figures are the only reliable information about JStreet's money.  JS's website gives other figures from time to time, partial at best, but there is no way to verify these;  in the matter of moneys received from George Soros, for example, JS's representations have been shown to be outright lies.

Now, in the only fiscal year for which we have reliable data, JS reported to the IRS that it received a total of $1,616,311 in contributions.  Of this total, $1,405,197, or 87%, was contributed by 21 persons, each responsible for a contribution of at least $5000.  The remainder, viz. $ 211,114, was donated in sums each less than $5000.  Ben-Ami has said that JS has 10,000 contributors, which, if true, would mean that the average contribution, from the average JS supporter and not counting the top twenty-one,  amounted to just $21.16.

Just who are these twenty-one angels of JStreet ?   Are they the average, well-meaning, liberal American Jews that JS claims to represent ?  Not quite.  Not by a longshot.

As it turns out, the family of George Soros, the international currency manipulator and convicted insider-trader, is responsible for a total of $245,000, or just over 15% of JS's income.  JS has consistently lied about its Soros money (see link three paragraphs above).  But at least the world knows a little something about Mr. Soros.  He doesn't approve of Israel very much, but he has never called for its destruction.  The same cannot  be said with any certainty about that outsized elephant in this room:  Ms. Consolacion Esdicul, citizen of Hong Kong apparently of Philippine background, who was kind enough to contribute $811,697, fully fifty percent of JS's income in this particular year.

Here is the list of the twenty-one large JS contributors in the sequence shown on  Schedule B:

2,  DAVIDI GILO, LOS GATOS, CA   $ 55,000.
3.  GEORGE SOROS, NEW YORK, NY   $ 145,000 
4.  ANDREA SOROS, NEW YORK, NY  $ 50,000.
5. JONATHAN SOROS,  NEW YORK, NY    $ 50,000
9. MARTIN BUNZL,  LA JOLLA, CA     $ 25,000.
12. ALAN SOLOMONT, NEWTON, MA    $ 10,000
17) GAIL FURMAN, NEW YORK, NY $ 5,000.
18) JERRY HIRSCH, PHOENIX, AZ   $ 5,000.
20) ABBY SHER, SANTA MONI CA , CA   $ 5,000.

Nothing at all is publicly known about Ms. Esdicul or her motives.  The explanation offered by JStreet is laughable on its face:  Ms. E. is a friend of a friend of JStreet.  (Nobody in that chain is said to be Jewish).   The suggestion that it is Arab or Iranian money that is being transmitted here from Hong Kong has, at the very least, the virtue of believability.  It is the Islamist world, after all, that has an interest in trying to sabotage the overwhelming solidarity of American Jews with Israel.

In any case,  he who pays the piper calls the tune. So whoever or whatever lurks behind Ms. Esdicul determines what this group does and why.   Those well-meaning American Jewish liberals who get invoked by Mr. Ben-Ami, even though they may pay $21.16 a shot for a piece of the action, can be no more than the useful innocents in this shadowy movement.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

"The Nation's" Hidden Angels

The Nation magazine, under date of September 30, is indignant that the Tea Party, apparently, does not reveal its donors adequately.  Nation writer George Zornick wants to "force [the] secret donors into daylight." Do I agree ?  You betcha.

But, guess what, The Nation itself clouds its finances in a most unusual and extreme secrecy.  It avoids financial disclosures to the IRS by being a "limited partnership," not a non-profit entity, so neither the government nor the public can have an insight into the identity of the donors who keep it afloat.  It is claimed that some thirty percent of its revenues come from these sources, but there is no independent verification of this or of any of the magazine's financial data.  What we do know is that, not being a registered non-profit organization, donations to The Nation are not tax-deductible.  In other words, the magazine is willing to forego the very substantial financial advantages of tax deductibility for the sake maintaining an absolute secrecy of its contributing angels.

(The Nation magazine has undergone a number of incarnations, some of which were perfectly honorable.  In this article I deal only with its current one, which, it would seem, began with the editorship of Victor Navasky at the end of the 1970's. For an assessment of the magazine as of 1951, see the article by Granville Hicks, "The Liberals Who Haven't Learned," Commentary, April 1951)

Who might want to be an angel to this Nation ?  And why would such a person, or entity, hide his generosity from the "daylight" of public knowledge ?  To get an understanding of such questions, it is instructive to review some of the magazine's more notorious articles of faith, to wit:

1. The Stalinist movement, in balance, was a "progressive" force, working for the benefit of mankind.  So Stalin's most steadfast American supporter, Paul Robeson, is one of the fifty greatest American "progressives" of all time, as is his comrade in arms, I. F. Stone.  Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, far from being some sort of criminals, were idealistic American "progressives."  And so on.

2.  When it comes to the conflict between the old Soviet Union and the Jews who attempted to escape from it, guess who was in the right ?  Well,  The Nation weighed in on that one on March 1, 1986, under byline of  Mr. Alexander Cockburn.  It is true, at least according to Franklin Foer, that this Mr. Cockburn does not much like Jews to begin with.  But even so, this article was extraordinary.  The immediate issue  was that of the famous refusenik Nathan Sharansky, who had languished in the Gulag for many years on trumped-up charges.  Mr. Cockburn opined, contrary to the views of just about everyone else outside the KGB,  that Sharansky was most probably "an American spy."   I must say that when I first saw this article some twenty-five years ago I thought that the The Nation had been taken over by psychopaths;  my subsequent occasional forays into its pages haven't changed this impression to any substantial degree.  (For anyone interested in the details of the Sharansky case, there is the definitive  600-page analysis by the Canadian law professor Irwin Cotler.)

3.  Israel is always in the wrong.  While The Nation has never explicitly endorsed the popular Arab slogan "Death to the Jews," the import of what the magazine has to say, week after week,  is not far from this.  When the magazine wrote one of its routine attacks on Israel in connection with the Gaza "flotilla" of 2010,  there was a protest from a surprising source:  Eric Alterman, himself a left-wing critic of Israel and indeed a columnist for The Nation.  "This editorial," he wrote, "like most Nation editorials on the topic, simply assumes that Israel is 100 percent at fault in this conflict, and that whoever opposes it is 100 percent correct."

Now, in addition to perhaps some unreconstructed old Stalinist lately come into a bit of cash, which person or entity, foreign or domestic, would care to finance this kind of ranting and raving and malicious insinuation, week in week out ?  And who would do this without any kind of tax benefit to himself, being rewarded only by having his bad deeds clouded in the deepest of secrecy ?  Well, to ask the question is to answer it, isn't it.

Also read, on related subjects:
Eli Lake on Soros funding for JStreet
Israel Matsav on off-shore, non-Jewish funding of JStreet