Holding Leonard Davis To Lenny Ben-David's Standards
On October 21, 2009, former AIPAC official Lenny Ben-David wrote a post on Pajamas Media attempting to smear the pro-Israel, pro-peace organization J Street. A close look at Ben-David's record reveals a striking level of hypocrisy. He wants his readers to distrust J Street based on tenuous connections to people whose only "faults" are being of Arab descent or Muslim. If Mr. Ben-David believes such connections are worthy of criticism, why has he engaged in nearly identical behavior himself?
Lenny Ben-David Unfairly Smeared J Street
You [J Street executive director Jeremy Ben-Ami] served as Fenton Communications' senior vice president until you established J Street, launched in 2008. In early 2009, Fenton signed contracts with a Qatari foundation to lead an 18-month long anti-Israel campaign in the United States with a special focus on campuses. The actual text of the contract called for: "An international public opinion awareness campaign that advocates for the accountability of those who participated in attacks against schools in Gaza."
Did you sever your ties with Fenton when you began J Street? Do you retain any role or holdings in Fenton today? Did you play any role in introducing Fenton to the Qatari agents or play any role in facilitating the contract? Were you aware of the negotiations or the contract signed on March 12, 2009?
These questions are relevant because it's important to know if J Street's refusal to support Israel's anti-Hamas military campaign was influenced by your ties with Fenton, whose promotional material claims: "We only represent people and projects we believe in."
Were there discussions with Fenton prior to J Street's refusal to condemn the Goldstone Report on Gaza, a report that certainly serves the Fenton/Qatari interests? Were there communications with Fenton surrounding J Street's support for Rep. Donna Edwards who refused to sign a congressional resolution supporting Israeli actions in Gaza? [Ben-David post on Pajamas Media, 10/20/09; emphasis added]
How extensive is your interlocking directorship? I believe that is the correct characterization of J Street and its allied organizations. J Street's contributions from the heads of the Arab American Institute and Iranian lobby NIAC have been documented in these pages. They serve on J Street's Finance Committee which has a minimum requirement of $10,000. As research continues in the files of various federal agencies, we found that the interlocking relations continue into the second tiers as well.
Take for example, the case of Rebecca Abou-Chedid. She appears in the federal elections records as contributing to J Street's PAC. Her occupation is listed as "consultant" for "USUS LLC." But until recently, she was also the national political director at the Arab American Institute where she "was responsible for formulating AAI's positions on foreign policy ... and represented the Arab American community with Congress as well as the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, and State." Today, Abou-Chedid is the director of outreach at the New America Foundation's Middle East Task Force.
J Street co-founder and Advisory Council member Daniel Levy serves as co-director of the Middle East Task Force at the New America Foundation, an institute that benefits from George Soros' largess and membership on its board.
Heads of other pro-Arab organizations, such as AMIDEAST, and Arab foreign agents are contributors to the PAC. But Mr. Ben-Ami claims that no organizations or foreign governments contribute. They don't need do; their representatives do. [Ben-David post on Pajamas Media, 10/20/09; emphasis added]
Holding Leonard Davis To Lenny Ben-David's Standards
Employing his logic, Mr. Ben-David should have to answer the same type of questions he raises about J Street. Questions, such as:
Did you sever your ties with the government of Turkey when you before you wrote your anti-J Street post? Do you retain any role with the government of Turkey today? Did you play any role in the Turkish government's decision to accuse Israel of war crimes? Were you aware of the Turkish Prime Minister's decision to yell "you know well how to kill people!" to Israeli President Shimon Peres?
These questions are relevant because it's important to know if Turkey's refusal to support Israel's anti-Hamas military campaign was influenced by your counsel.
Of course, these questions are specious. Well, Mr. Ben-David, so were yours.
Lenny Ben-David: The Backgrounder
Lenny Ben-David = Leonard Davis
Previously, Lenny Ben-David Was Known As Leonard Davis. According to foreign agent registration forms filed with the U.S. Department of Justice, Lenny Ben-David's previous name was Leonard Davis:
Leonard Davis Himself Was A "Representative" Of Turkey**
**Note: Media Matters Action Network does not believe there is anything wrong with being a registered foreign agent for Turkey. We bring the issue up only to highlight the preposterous arguments made by Ben-David.
Davis' Bio: "His Client List Includes... The Government Of Turkey." According to Lenny Ben-David's biography at the Endowment for Middle East Truth, "His client list includes Conoco, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the Government of Turkey, HonestReporting.Com, the Government of Georgia (former Soviet Union), Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, the Begin Heritage Center, Save A Child's Heart, Caravan for Democracy and more." [Ben-David bio, Endowment for Middle East Truth, accessed 10/21/09]
Davis Performed A Slew Of Public Relations Services For The Government Of Turkey. According to foreign agent registration forms filed with the U.S. Department of Justice, Leonard Davis' Southfive Strategy provided the government of Turkey with various public relations services. Services included, "regular monitoring of media outlets for news related to the Republic of Turkey," "public relations counsel of the principal regarding communications strategy in the United States," "compil[ing] and distribute[ing] informational materials and commentaries to media and policy experts," and "contact[ing] media outlets to encourage interviews of the Ambassador and the placement of written commentaries by Turkish government officials." [DOJ, 11/30/06; Southfive Strategies, accessed 10/21/09]
Davis Worked For The Government Of Turkey From 2004 To 2007. According to foreign agent registration forms filed with the U.S. Department of Justice, Leonard Davis provided public relations consulting services for the Embassy of Turkey from 2004 to 2007. [DOJ, accessed 10/21/09]
The Government Of Turkey Paid Davis A $100,000 Retainer In 2007. According to foreign agent registration forms filed with the U.S. Department of Justice, the Embassy of Turkey paid Leonard Davis a $100,000 retainer in 2008 for part-time work. [DOJ, 2/24/08]
The Government Of Turkey Paid Davis Over $37,000 In 2007. According to foreign agent registration forms filed with the U.S. Department of Justice, the Embassy of Turkey paid Leonard Davis $37,500 in 2007. [DOJ, 2/24/08]
Turkey's Prime Minister Was Described As An "Islamist" Jailed For "Inciting Religious Hatred"
Turkish Prime Minister Since 2003 Is An "Islamist" Jailed For "Inciting Religious Hatred." As reported by the BBC, during college, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan "entered Turkey's Islamist movement." Additionally, it wrote, "his pro-Islamist sympathies earned him a conviction in 1998 for inciting religious hatred. He had publicly read an Islamic poem including the lines: 'The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers...' He was sentenced to 10 months in jail, but was freed after four." [BBC, 11/4/02]
As Of Late, Turkey Has Been Repeatedly Butting Heads With Israel
Turkish PM To Shimon Peres: "You Know Well How To Kill People!" According to the Asia Times, "In January, Erdogan stormed out of a conference during the World Economic Forum in Switzerland after he had upbraided Israeli President Shimon Peres over the extent of Palestinian casualties in Gaza, telling him, 'You know well how to kill people.'" [Asia Times, 10/15/09]
Turkey Banned The Israeli Air Force From NATO Training Exercises. According to the Asia Times, "On Sunday, Israel disclosed that joint North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) air force exercises, codenamed "Anatolian Eagle," had been postponed because Turkey was excluding the Israeli air force. The drill was scheduled to have included the United States and Italy. Both pulled out after the Turkish ban. The war games were due to have been based in the central Anatolian city of Konya, and were reportedly to have involved bombing runs in airspace near the Iranian, Syrian and Iraqi borders." [Asia Times, 10/15/09]
Turkey's Prime Minister Is A Proponent Of The UN's Goldstone Report Accusing Israel Of War Crimes. According to the Asia Times, "Turkish fury was rekindled following publication of the United Nations' Goldstone Report, which alleges that Israel has committed war crimes. Turkish Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdogan has been at the forefront in criticizing the decision to shelve discussion of the report at the UN Human Rights Council." [Asia Times, 10/15/09]
By His Own Standards, Leonard Davis Himself Was A "Representative" Of Azerbaijan**
**Note: Media Matters Action Network does not believe there is anything wrong with being a registered foreign agent for Azerbaijan. We bring the issue up only to highlight the preposterous arguments made by Ben-David.
Davis' Southfive Strategies Worked For The Government Of Azerbaijan. According to foreign agent registration forms filed with the U.S. Department of Justice, Southfive Strategies, at which Leonard Davis served as a partner, worked for the government of Azerbaijan. Southfive helped the country produce a "policy conference in Azerbaijan on US-Azeri relations as well as meetings with Azeri officials, business leaders, religious leaders, and media personalities." [DOJ, accessed 10/21/09; Southfive Strategies, accessed 10/21/09]
- Azerbaijan Is Complicit In Human Sex Trafficking. According to the CIA World Factbook: "Azerbaijan is primarily a source and transit country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor; women and some children from Azerbaijan are trafficked to Turkey and the UAE for the purpose of sexual exploitation; men and boys are trafficked to Russia for the purpose of forced labor; Azerbaijan serves as a transit country for victims from Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Moldova trafficked to Turkey and the UAE for sexual exploitation... Azerbaijan is on the Tier 2 Watch List for its failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat trafficking in persons, particularly efforts to investigate, prosecute, and punish traffickers; to address complicity among law enforcement personnel; and to adequately identify and protect victims in Azerbaijan; the government has yet to develop a much-needed mechanism to identify potential trafficking victims and refer them to safety and care; poor treatment of trafficking victims in courtrooms continues to be a problem (2008)." [CIA World Factbook, accessed 10/21/09]
- The Government Of Azerbaijan Routinely Violates Human Rights. According to Amnesty International: "More than 100 political opposition activists were tried for their alleged participation in post-election violence in October 2003; at least 40 men received prison sentences following trials which reportedly did not meet international fair trial standards. Courts reportedly failed to exclude evidence allegedly extracted under torture. Political prisoners were among hundreds released during the year. Political prisoners were among 160 prisoners released in December. Hundreds of opposition supporters were detained following police clashes with demonstrators protesting at presidential election results. Human rights defenders were intimidated and their offices attacked. Police reportedly used excessive force to detain villagers involved in peaceful protests." [Amnesty International, accessed 10/21/09]