Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street’s executive director, was the communications director for New Israel Fund (NIF). Ben-Ami is also the founder of the Israeli company Ben-Or Consulting (1998), which specializes in Strategic Communications and Consulting. Ben-Or works closely with many politicized Israeli NGOs, including Amnesty-Israel, Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), Bimkom, Keshev, Peres Center for Peace, Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHR-I), and Parents Circle. NGO funders NIF and the Ford Foundation are also Ben-Or clients.
In December 2010, the Washington Times reported that J Street had been paying Ben-Or tens of thousands of dollars in consultation fees. Charity experts quoted in the article said that this raised ethical issues of self-dealing and conflict of interest.
One example of Ben-Or’s impact is a press conference during the Gaza War (January 14, 2009) featuring nine Israeli NGOs and entitled “A Clear and Present Danger.” This event, which received significant attention in the international media, was coordinated by Ran Goldstein of Ben-Or. In another instance, a World Bank report on “Palestinian Economic Prospects” (September 22, 2008) acknowledged the contributions of Ben-Or and a number of Ben-Or clients (Bimkom, Peace Now, PHR-I, Yesh Din, and OCHA). Didi Remez of Ben-Or provided “substantive analysis and guidance.”
Ben-Or also created “Yesh Din,”– which, as shown in NGO Monitor’s detailed analyses (see also article in Jerusalem Post), exploits the language of human rights for political and ideological objectives, using methodologies and evidence that lack credibility. Ben-Or provides “professional consulting, PR and public information development.” Ben-Or employee Ran Goldstein is Yesh Din’s spokesperson, and former employee Loir Yavne (also formerly of B’Tselem) is the NGO’s director of research (his work for the two organizations overlapped). Ben-Or and Yesh Din also share offices in Tel Aviv.
Jeremy Ben-Ami’s close connections with NIF and Ben-Or Consulting are also reflected in the speakers’ list at the J Street conference (October 25-28). The two speakers in the opening session are Ben-Ami and Daniel Sokatch, incoming CEO of NIF. Other participants in the conference include Didi Remez, a senior partner at Ben-Or, and representatives from highly politicized NGOs represented by Ben-Or and funded by NIF: ACRI, Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem, Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR), and the Geneva Initiative group. The impact of Palestinian terrorism is not on J Street’s agenda.
George Soros, who funds many of these and other NGOs through the Open Society Institute (OSI), made a three-year, $750,000 contribution to J Street. However, until this information was exposed in the Washington Times, Ben-Ami and other J Street officials obfuscated about Soros’ relationship with the lobby group.
According to the Washington Times, J Street “facilitated meetings between members of Congress and South African Judge Richard Goldstone” to promote his report.