Hagee Ministries May Drop Funds for Pro-Israel Group

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JERUSALEM, Israel - John Hagee Ministries may be backing away from supporting an Israeli student organization that left-wing groups accuse of being full of "right-wing extremists."

The staunchly pro-Israel ministry is considering whether to continue donating funds to the student organization Im Tirtzu ("If you will it"), according to John Hagee Ministry spokesman Ari Morgenstern.

Im Tirtzu, founded four years ago, describes itself as a "centrist extra-parliamentary" student movement seeking to reinstate Zionist values and strengthen Israeli society. During the past two years, the group has received $200,000 from John Hagee Ministries.

The issue stems in part from a letter sent last month to Ben-Gurion University President Rivka Carmi. In the letter, the student organization said they would work to convince donors not to support the university because of the anti-Israel bias being taught in the political science department.

Morgenstern said the ministry had no prior knowledge of Im Tirtzu's political aspirations. Click here for an op-ed piece, "Why the Left Hates Im Tirtzu."

"Im Tirtzu misrepresented its focus when they told us their mission was strictly Zionist education," he said, adding that the ministry never involves itself "in Israel's internal political debate."

Morgenstern said they did not consider the politcal leanings of the university's professors sufficient reason to pull funding from Ben-Gurion University.

"We of course do not support any call for divestment from Israel in any way," he added. "Yet looking at what BGU does for the people of Israel in general, and the development of the Negev in particular, we believe that the people of Israel benefit from BGU's success."

Im Tirtzu spokesman Erez Tadmor said his organization is thankful for the support Pastor Hagee's ministries has provided in the past.

"We thank John Hagee Ministries for their meaningful support for the movement in its early stages," Tadmor told CBN News. Click here to read more about Im Tirtzu.

Christians United for Israel Executive Director David Brog said Pastor Hagee knew nothing about Im Tirtzu.

"If you want to blame anyone for what has happened with Im Tirtzu, blame those of us on the committee who advise Pastor Hagee on donations to Israeli organizations," Brog said.

"Pastor Hagee had never heard of Im Tirtzu until we brought the group to his attention after being informed that they were a purely educational organization."  he said.

Im Tirtzu also campaigned against the New Israel Fund and its head, former Meretz MK Naomi Chazan.

The New Israel Fund describes itself as an advocacy group committed to "complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants, without regard to religion, race, or gender." 

Last February, Im Tirtzu ran an ad in several Israeli newspapers citing NIF's funding of NGOs that aided the Goldstone Commission in its investigation of Israel's three-week military incursion in the Gaza Strip.

The commission produced a report accusing the Israel Defense Forces of alleged crimes against humanity.

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