Non-profit

J Street

Location:

WASHINGTON, DC

Tax ID:

26-1507828

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(4)

Budget (2017):

Revenue: $2,522,577
Expenses: $2,481,927
Assets: $3,114,433

Formation:

2008

President:

Jeremy Ben-Ami

J Street is a left-of-center lobbying organization focused on American-Israeli relations. The group was explicitly founded to provide an outlet for left-wing Jews who did not feel represented by other Jewish advocacy organizations. The group has generated a great deal of controversy and is routinely accused of undermining the state of Israel.

­History

In 2008 J Street was launched by Jeremy Ben-Ami, a policy advisor in the Clinton administration, and Daniel Levy, who had served as an advisor to previous Israeli cabinet ministers and had worked as an author of the Geneva peace accord. Ben-Ami started the group as an alternative to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which has received support from American Republican politicians in addition to Democratic politicians. [1]

The group has a decidedly left-of-center approach and is critical of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. As a result, the group presents “itself as an alternative for Democrats who have grown uncomfortable with both Netanyahu’s policies and the conservatives’ flocking to AIPAC.” [2] [3]

Funding

In 2017 the group had $2,528,985 in revenue, almost entirely from contributions and grants, with $2,481,927 in expenses. [4]

The group received start-up funding from Deborah Sagner, who was a board member of the left-of-center group Democracy Alliance at the time. The group has also received funding from controversial left-of-center philanthropist George Soros. [5] [6] In 2010, J Street and Ben-Ami faced criticism for attempting to imply that J Street did not receive funding from Soros; in fact, the group had received roughly one-third of its revenue in its 2008-2009 fiscal year from the left-wing billionaire. [7]

Activities

J Street is engaged in lobbying to support interests shared between liberal Americans and left-of-center Israelis  and to promote a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.[8] [9]

J Street claims to hold the position that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel but is opposed to any policies that it believes could inflame tensions in the area, such as building Israeli housing in the Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. The group opposed the relocation of the American embassy to Jerusalem and opposed the Trump administration when it did so,[10] putting the group at odds with pro-Israel Democrats including Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY). [11]

The group also argues that any peace agreement should be based on the 1949 armistice lines, with negotiations arranging land swaps to finalize a peace settlement. [12]

In 2019, the group launched an alternative to the partly Israeli government-funded Birthright trips that bring young Jews from around the world to visit Israel on a free 10-day trip. Calling the trip Let Our People Know, J Street launched the trip to ensure that Palestinian voices and perspectives were heard. J Street claims that Birthright trips failed to adequately address “the realities of the occupation” that Palestinians face. [13]

Criticism

J Street has attracted a great deal of criticism from other Jewish-Americans and Jews around the world for its stances and strategy.

Jewish activist Isi Leibler wrote in the Jerusalem Post that “J Street’s approach is arrogant and paternalistic. Its leaders have the chutzpah to claim that they know better than Israelis what is good for Israel.” According to Leibler, J Street crosses the line when it actively lobbies the U.S. government to act against policies of the sitting Israeli government. [14]

David Weinberg, the president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies, argued in the Algemeiner that J Street is no longer a pro-Israel organization due to its left-wing stances. He claims that J street is now an “organization that spends almost all its time and money besmirching Israel, smearing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and other leading American Jewish organizations, boosting US-Iran relations, and backing political candidates for whom promoting the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement is a badge of honor.” [15]

Leadership

Jeremy Ben-Ami is the president and cofounder of J Street. He previously worked as an advisor in the Clinton administration. [16] Ben-Ami has come under fire for controversial remarks, such as referring to the Jewish establishment as a “multi-headed hydra.” [17] Ben-Ami also has been accused of being deceitful when it comes to J Street receiving funding from controversial donor George Soros. [18]

References

  1. “Getting the Facts Right about AIPAC.” Mosaic, March 2019. https://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/israel-zionism/2019/03/getting-the-facts-right-about-aipac/. ^
  2. Terris, Ben. “Jeremy Ben-Ami, Winning a Place at the Table for J Street.” The Washington Post, March 26, 2015. Accessed October 15, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/jeremy-ben-ami-winning-a-place-at-the-table-for-j-street/2015/03/26/1acb118e-d33e-11e4-8fce-3941fc548f1c_story.html. ^
  3. McGreal, Chris. “Who Speaks for America’s Jews? J Street Lobby Group Works to Loosen Big Beasts’ Grip on Congress.” The Guardian, October 23, 2009. Accessed October 15, 2019. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/oct/23/j-street-america-israel-lobby. ^
  4. J Street, IRS (Form 990), 2017, Part I ^
  5. Terris, Ben. “Jeremy Ben-Ami, Winning a Place at the Table for J Street.” The Washington Post, March 26, 2015. Accessed October 15, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/jeremy-ben-ami-winning-a-place-at-the-table-for-j-street/2015/03/26/1acb118e-d33e-11e4-8fce-3941fc548f1c_story.html. ^
  6. Lake, Eli. “Soros Revealed as Funder of Liberal Jewish-American Lobby.” The Washington Post, September 24, 2010. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/sep/24/soros-funder-liberal-jewish-american-lobby/. ^
  7. Tracy, Marc. “Soros Funding of J Street Revealed.” Tablet Magazine, September 27, 2010. https://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/45827/soros-funding-of-j-street-revealed. ^
  8. JStreet.org. “Mission and Principles.” Accessed October 17, 2019. https://jstreet.org/about-us/mission-principles/. ^
  9. McGreal, Chris. “Who Speaks for America’s Jews? J Street Lobby Group Works to Loosen Big Beasts’ Grip on Congress.” The Guardian, October 23, 2009. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/oct/23/j-street-america-israel-lobby. ^
  10. JStreet.org. “Jerusalem.” Accessed October 17, 2019. https://jstreet.org/policy/jerusalem/. ^
  11. Shelbourne, Mallory. “Schumer Applauds Trump on Moving US Embassy to Jerusalem.” TheHill, May 14, 2018. https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/387566-schumer-applauds-trump-on-moving-us-embassy-to-jerusalem. ^
  12. JStreet.org. “Borders.” Accessed October 17, 2019. https://jstreet.org/policy/borders/#.XaiEJehKiUk. ^
  13. Maltz, Judy. “J Street Launches Birthright Alternative, Featuring ‘Occupation 101.’” Forward, July 1, 2019. Accessed October 17, 2019. https://forward.com/fast-forward/426833/j-street-launches-birthright-alternative-featuring-occupation-101/. ^
  14. Leibler, Isi. “Candidly Speaking: J Street Is Not a Pro-Israel Organization.” The Jerusalem Post, October 7, 2013. Accessed October 17, 2019. https://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/Candidly-Speaking-J-Street-is-not-a-pro-Israel-organization-328099. ^
  15. Weinberg, David. “Is J Street Still Pro-Israel?” The Algemeiner, December 23, 2018. Accessed October 17, 2019. https://www.algemeiner.com/2018/12/23/is-j-street-still-pro-israel/. ^
  16. Terris, Ben. “Jeremy Ben-Ami, Winning a Place at the Table for J Street.” The Washington Post, March 26, 2015. Accessed October 15, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/jeremy-ben-ami-winning-a-place-at-the-table-for-j-street/2015/03/26/1acb118e-d33e-11e4-8fce-3941fc548f1c_story.html. ^
  17. JStreet.org. “Myths and Facts: Our Staff and Leadership.” Accessed October 17, 2019. https://jstreet.org/about-us/myths-facts-about-j-street/our-staff-and-leadership/#.XaiT1uhKiUk. ^
  18. Good, Chris. “J Street’s Half-Truths and Non-Truths About Its Funding.” The Atlantic, September 24, 2010. Accessed October 17, 2019. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2010/09/j-streets-half-truths-and-non-truths-about-its-funding/63541/. ^

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Paul Egerman
    Advisory Council Member
  2. Davidi Gilo
    Board Chair
  3. Joel Rubin
    Former Political Director
  4. Becky Wasserman
    Former Deputy Director of Government Affairs
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: February 1, 2009

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Dec Form 990 $2,522,577 $2,481,927 $3,114,433 $590,584 N $2,528,985 $0 $17 $143,366 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $3,435,803 $3,338,819 $2,565,339 $82,140 N $3,435,786 $0 $17 $126,181 PDF
    2015 Dec Form 990 $3,304,203 $2,944,238 $2,439,892 $53,677 N $3,315,409 $0 $17 $113,770 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $2,418,969 $2,207,771 $2,115,080 $88,830 N $2,424,259 $0 $2 $126,108 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $2,549,935 $2,482,209 $1,907,357 $92,305 N $2,555,763 $28,466 $3 $124,995 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $2,680,302 $2,575,231 $1,830,184 $82,858 N $2,588,851 $38,093 $5 $121,838 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $2,972,591 $2,136,707 $1,729,065 $86,810 N $2,994,902 $21,655 $18 $120,523 PDF
    2010 Dec Form 990 $2,189,038 $1,879,795 $834,610 $28,239 N $2,187,977 $0 $302 $173,499 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    J Street

    1828 L ST NW STE 240
    WASHINGTON, DC 20036-5105