Im Tirtzu May Lose Funding Over Boycott Threat to Ben-Gurion University

U.S. based pro-Israel organization Christians United for Israel: We do not support any calls for divestment from Israel in any way.

Natasha Mozgovaya
Natasha Mozgovaya
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Natasha Mozgovaya
Natasha Mozgovaya

Im Tirtzu, the organization that threatened Ben-Gurion University with a donor boycott because of their "anti-Zionist" bias, has lost at lease one funding source over the highly publicized row.

The spokesman for Christians United for Israel (CUFI), a U.S. based pro-Israel organization run by Pastor John Hagee, hinted to Haaretz on Monday that they will no longer give money to Im Tirtzu. The potential funding cutoff will be a big change from the 100,000 dollars that CUFI donated to Im Tirtzu in 2009.

An Im Tirzu protest on the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev campus after the IDF raid of a Gaza-bound flotilla in May.Credit: Archive

"We of course do not support any calls for divestment from Israel in any way," CUFI spokesman Ari Morgenstern said. Im Tirtzu sent a threatening letter to Ben-Gurion University president Prof. Rivka Carmi last month, saying they would persuade donors in Israel and abroad to stop funding the university if the didnt put an end to the "anti-Zionist" tilt in its politics and government department.

We do not believe that the political positions of the few professors characterize an entire university. JHM (John Hagee Ministries) therefore is not concerned with our support for Ben-Gurion University," Morgenstern said.

CUFI defines their purpose as to provide "a national association through which every pro-Israel church, para-church organization, ministry or individual in America can speak and act with one voice in support of Israel in matters related to Biblical issues."

As a group that tries to stay out of internal Israeli politics, CUFI has been disappointed by Im Tirtzu actions earlier this year, when their campaign against New Israel Fund president, Professor Naomi Chazan, made waves in the media. The organization claimed that the majority of negative references made about the Israel Defense Forces in the Goldstone report, the United Nations commissioned report on Israel's offensive into Gaza, came from New Israel Fund sponsored organizations. The ensuing campaign they launched against NIF included posters of Chazan depicting her with a horn emerging from her forehead and labeling her Naomi Goldstone Chazan.

"Our position on Im Tirtzu activities was clear since this story (campaign against the NIF) first broke back in February. Im Tirtzu misrepresented their focus," Morgenstern said. "When they told us their mission is strictly Zionist education, we had no prior knowledge of their political actions, and we never seek to involve ourselves in Israels internal political debates."

The Houston Jewish Federation, which has helped the Texas based CUFI decide which organizations in Israel to fund, has also publicly renounced Im Tirtzu's most recent campaign. In a letter to the liberal "Tikun Olam" blog, Jewish Federation CEO Lee Wunsch wrote: "In light of recent events and in my discussions with Pastor Hagee, he will not continue that funding as we both believe that Im Tirtzu has morphed into a quasi-political organization and neither Pastor Hagee nor the Houston Jewish Federation will fund such groups."

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