Israeli bank cancels charity project after outcry over rightist NGO's participation
Participation of rightist Im Tirzu group in Bank Leumi's charitable donation project sparked public campaign against the project.
Israel's Bank Leumi has halted its "Two Million Good Reasons" project, due to public pressure over the participation of the rightist Im Tirzu group.
The project had allowed internet users to vote on which philanthropic groups should receive charitable donations from Bank Leumi.
A statement released by Bank Leumi on Sunday said that the project "was successful and achieved its goal…We had good intentions, but found ourselves the traget of public criticism, which also hurt NGOs. A number of the participating NGOs turned to us and said that the atmosphere surrounding the project was overshadowing them and was even harming them."
"We reached an understanding that at this time the model we adopted had not achieved its goal. Therefore, we decided that should stop the project at this point, and examine alternate routes to achieve the project's goals."
Bank Leumi said the 139 NGOs that participated in the project will each receive NIS 10,000 to cover their expenses. The remaining NIS 600,000 will be earmarked for initiatives and projects promoting education, community and welfare in Israel.
Public outcry arouse last week after the head of Peace Now, Yariv Oppenheimer, criticized the project over the participation of Im Tirzu, announcing he was closing his Bank Leumi account.
In recent days, a Facebook group called "Two Million Reasons to Leave Leumi" was founded. Group members said that they intended to leave Bank Leumi over the participation the the project by an "extremist right-wing" group.
The Facebook group stated that "Bank Leumi is a private, non-political body. Our money cannot be used to fund political groups, particularly extremist bodies like Im Tirzu that clearly advocate for political oppression and silencing."