Publishing fiction at the Washington Times

September 30, 2010

The right-wing attack machine is in full gear.

The peace talks are in peril, settlement construction is re-starting and hopes for a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict hang by a thread. So right-wing pro-Israel activists are trying to shift the conversation to George Soros, Richard Goldstone and J Street’s finances rather than the historic error Israel and the United States would be making to let this opportunity to end the conflict pass.

The latest salvo they’ve fired is a fictional account in the Washington Times of J Street’s relationship with Colette Avital, the former Israeli Consul General in New York, and our connection to Judge Richard Goldstone.

First, the notion that Ms. Avital resigned her post with J Street is completely false. She remains a consultant to us and will be on a speaking tour for our organization in four cities in the Midwest for a full week in October. She and we told the Washington Times this on Thursday, yet hearing it from both of us apparently wasn’t enough to persuade those bent on attacking us from publishing fiction in what some might call a newspaper.

Further, Ms. Avital made it very clear that she had no knowledge that J Street had anything to do with Judge Goldstone’s visit to Washington yet the paper devotes prominent space to charging that we “facilitated” his visit – and she is supposedly their sole source.

J Street has deep respect for Judge Goldstone, despite the problems we have with the UN Human Rights Council and our view that his report has been used by those who don’t care much for a balanced view of human rights violations around the world but are focused excessively on undermining Israel itself in the court of world opinion.

When asked by the Washington Times, we gave them the following statement:

“J Street did not host, arrange or facilitate Judge Richard Goldstone’s visit in November 2009.

Judge Goldstone held a series of meetings in Washington that were coordinated and facilitated by the Middle East program at the New America Foundation and the Open Society Institute. J Street staff spoke to colleagues at the organizations coordinating the meetings and, at their behest, reached out to a handful of Congressional staff to inquire whether Members would be interested in seeing Judge Goldstone. We believed it to be a good idea for him and for members of Congress to meet personally, but we declined to play a role in hosting, convening or attending any of the meetings.

We opposed at the time, and still do, the campaign of personal vilification against Judge Goldstone, even as we criticized the process at the UN Human Rights Council that led to his report and urged the US to veto a possible Security Council resolution based on the report.”

The fever pitch of attacks on J Street this week in the right-wing media is just a sign of fear on the right over the growth and energy surrounding J Street – which now has 160,000 supporters and has raised over $11 million in two and a half years.

Rather than argue the merits of continuing settlement expansion, entrenching occupation on the West Bank or a “one-state future,” we can understand why right-wing pro-Israel media and activists would prefer to stay in the gutter.

We are proud to stand for policies and values that will secure the future of a democratic, Jewish Israel and adhere to the long-held principles of the Jewish people. And this campaign of lies, smears and distortions have only further energized us in our important work.