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March 6, 2015 1:50 pm

Old Wine of Hate From the Vineyard

avatar by Dexter Van Zile


Clos du Val Winery in Napa Valley, Calif. Goelet acquired 150 acres of land and founded Clos Du Val in 1972. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Israel supporters may want to think twice before buying wine produced in vineyards owned by John Goelet, a man who has promoted hostility and contempt toward the Jewish homeland for more than a decade.

Goelet owns four wineries, one in California’s Napa Valley, two in Australia, and another in France, which operate under the brand Goelet Wine Estates. The vineyards are Clos Du Val in California, Clover Hill and Taltarni in Australia and Domaine de Nizas in France.

In addition to owning these well-regarded vineyards, Goelet is also a significant contributor to Americans for Middle East Understanding (AMEU), a Saudi-supported non-profit in the United States that publishes a notorious magazine called The Link.

Paul Findley, the former congressman who three years after his 1982 electoral defeat, was still fuming over the involvement of American Jews in politics in the U.S., serves on the organization’s board of directors.

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Goelet’s wife, Henrietta, has served on the board of another anti-Zionist institution called the American Educational Trust (AET), which publishes a notorious periodical of its own – the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (WRMEA).

A Google search of WRMEA’s website indicates that the Goelets are contributors to AET as well, with their names appearing periodically in AET’s list of donors, dubbed the “Choir of Angels” by the organization. John and Henrietta Goelet have even provided wine from their vineyards to lubricate at least one AET gathering, suggesting that the vintner has no problem having his wine associated with the organization’s anti-Zionist agenda.

Goelet has been the second-most reliable contributor to AMEU for quite some time. AMEU’s tax documents indicate that during the years 2001 to 2013, Goelet has donated a total of $328,740 to the organization, which has received a total of $2.75 million in contributions during that time. Goelet’s contributions represent almost 12 percent of all the donations to AMEU during those 13 years.

That’s a pretty good chunk of money coming from one person.

Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil company in Saudi Arabia is the only entity that has given more to AMEU than Goelet.

During the years 2001 to 2013, Saudi Aramco gave a total of $700,000 to AMEU, or 25 percent of the organization’s income from donations.

Goelet and Aramco’s donations to AMEU help support some pretty ugly anti-Zionist propaganda. For example, AMEU’s website includes a reprint of “Zionism: A Form of Racism and Racial Discrimination” submitted by the PLO to the United Nations in 1976. (The document includes testimony used to promote the passage of the Zionism is Racism resolution at the UN in 1975.)

That’s not all. A whole section of AMEU’s website, titled “The Dark Side of Zionism” promotes books published by anti-Israel polemicists including Naim Ateek and Alan Hart.

While promoting propaganda that portrays Zionism as an evil, racist movement, its magazine, The Link, routinely downplays the threat of radical Islam. In its first issue after 9/11, the periodical published a number of articles that portrayed the attack as a response to Zionism and Western imperialism, as if radical Islam had little to do with the attack, (which by the way was perpetrated by terrorists from its largest funder, Saudi Arabia).

In 2008, it published an apology for Hamas written by Khalid Amayreh who in addition to downplaying the organization’s desire to achieve Israel’s destruction, (stating that it wanted to be a “genuine peace partner”), declared that Hamas was “committed to democratic governing principles.”

It’s a pretty benign description of an organization that threw its political opponents from Fatah from rooftops the year before and which in the years since, has summarily executed a number of suspected collaborators in the streets of Gaza City during its fruitless conflicts with Israel. Hamas is not committed in any way to democracy, nor is it willing to be a genuine peace partner, but that’s the message Goelet helped fund.

Goelet’s support for AMEU’s ally, American Educational Trust, helps broadcast a similar brand of anti-Zionism. In 1992, AET’s Washington Report for Middle East Affairs published a peace by the aforementioned Paul Findley who complained that no one was willing to talk about the possibility that Israel’s intelligence agency, the Mossad might have been responsible for the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Findley stated that he had no evidence of Mossad’s involvement, but that didn’t stop him from quoting a colleague from WRMEA as stating “It was widely assumed at the time, and still is today, that the Mossad had a hand in the assassination.”

Goelet himself has also written some ugly stuff. In 2006 WRMEA published a letter by Goelet that suggested that Israel was intent on maintaining its existence through “the eradication of the Arab population in situ.”

In 2006, WRMEA published a letter to the editor by Goelet, who after complaining about Israel’s blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip declared “If the Hebrew population of the Holy Land wishes to remain resident, it must abandon all notion of a Zionist state. It can live in peace with other faiths, but it must change behavior.”

The disdain is palpable.

Fortunately, this type of hostility does not get a lot of traction in mainstream American society. The only question is whether or not Americans, most of whom support the Jewish state, would want to buy wine from a man who helps broadcast such poison into the American body politic.

Probably not.

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