American Jewish activist Brian Lurie has been appointed president of the New Israel Fund, succeeding former Meretz MK Naomi Chazan, who served four tumultuous years in the post.

Lurie, a rabbi by training, was CEO of the San Francisco Jewish Federation for 17 years and has also been involved in advancing Arab-Jewish relations.

The New Israel Fund, whose Israeli headquarters is in Jerusalem, has been involved in advancing a range of projects focusing on civil society and equality in Israel.

In 2010, the New Israel Fund and Chazan herself were targeted in a campaign by the right-wing Im Tirzu organization, which claimed that they had funded groups that assisted the United Nations-appointed Goldstone Commission in its probe of Israel's military operation in Gaza. The report has been widely criticized as being unfair to Israel. Im Tirzu ads featured Chazan with a horn coming out of her forehead.

Fundraising boost

Chazan recently called that campaign "a major assault on democracy in Israel," but said that it had actually helped the New Israel Fund in its fundraising among American Jews.

She said that both the number of supporters and the total amount of contributions have increased since the campaign.

The organization, which has an annual budget of $32 million, was the subject of a report by Channel 10 last week disclosing that the New Israel Fund has been providing funding to social justice protest groups in Israel. Chazan said the organization is proud of its work on the issue.