Hey J Street staffers, here's a friendly tip: When you're going to deny you said something on-the-record to a reporter, make sure the statement wasn't on tape.
The Washington Times revealed last week that the liberal "pro-Israel" group J Street had lied about taking money from anti-Zionist philanthropist George Soros. Today, a couple of the paper's trenchant investigative reporters uncovered even more devastating information on the group:
J Street - the self-described pro-Israel, pro-peace lobbying group - facilitated meetings between members of Congress and South African Judge Richard Goldstone, author of a U.N. report that accused the Jewish state of systematic war crimes in its three-week military campaign against Hamas in Gaza.
Colette Avital - a former member of Israel's parliament, from the center-left Labor Party and until recently J Street's liaison in Israel - told The Washington Times that her decision to resign her post with J Street earlier this year was a result in part of the group's "connection to Judge Goldstone."
In a statement provided to The Washington Times this week, [J Street president] Mr. [Jeremy] Ben-Ami said, "J Street did not host, arrange or facilitate any visit to Washington, D.C., by Judge Richard Goldstone."
He went on to say, however, that "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."
But both Avital and Ben-Ami are now insisting that the Washington Times fabricated the story. The J Street website claims that the Washington Times is "publishing fiction" and that the "right-wing attack machine is in full gear." And in a statement from Avital which was posted to J Street's website today, she said that she had never told the Washington Times reporters that J Street helped facilitate visits between Judge Goldstone and lawmakers.
"[T]he article in Friday's [sic] paper represents little more than the fabrication of the minds of writers with a political agenda," said Avital. "I made clear that I was and am completely unaware of any effort by J Street to facilitate visits by Judge Richard Goldstone to Capitol Hill."
Well, Avital appears to have a pretty short memory. Because the reporters taped the conversation - and it's now posted right here on the Washington Times website.
Better luck next time, J Street.