I would like to reach out my arms to dance a intercontinental hora with Didi Remez, the Calcalist, Yossi Gurvitz, and all those others who helped expose John Hagee’s $120,000 gift to Im Tirzu. It seems that both the Houston federation and Hagee have gotten the message that Im Tirzu is not an educational organization providing Zionist training to Israel’s college students, but an outright ideological and highly partisan rightist political group.
One of my Facebook friends and a reader of my blog, Simcha Burstyn, brings this message from Houston federation CEO, Lee Wunsch:
We helped John Hagee Ministries fund Im Tirtzu as part of Pastor Hagee’s annual gifts to Israel. He funded Im Tirtzu because of its original mission of educating young Israelis on Israel’s college campuses about the history of Israel and Zionism. That funding continued for two years. 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. If any of your friends want to communicate with me about their concerns, you are welcome to forward along this message and/or give them my contact information.
We have won a victory in the fight for decency, human rights and derech eretz in the Israeli political debate. Even as extreme a figure as John Hagee has red lines on such issues. In truth, I doubt Hagee cared enough to make this decision. In all likelihood it was the Houston federation that got cold feet. But whoever it was they are to be commended for seeing reason.
This is perhaps not a big victory and shouldn’t be blown out of proportion. After all, just look at the list of far-right settler groups which Hagee still supports:
Gush Katif, $200,000
Young Israel, $150,000
Shurat Ha-Din, $100,000
Nefesh B’Nefesh, $1,000,000 (settles new immigrants in settlements)
Ariel (settlement), $500,000
Gush Etzion, $150,000
But it’s a victory nonetheless. And in this dark day and age even the small ones count.
Now, I challenge Haviv Gur, the Jewish agency communications director to renounce Im Tirzu as well. If he won’t, will he tell us what redeeming value he finds in the group that the Houston federation missed in declaring it treif? Wouldn’t you like to be a fly on the wall in the phone conversations that will go back and forth between Jerusalem and Houston on this one?
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