The pro-Zionist organization Im Tirtzu (If You Will it) is not unduly perturbed over apparent threats by John Hagee Ministries (JHM) to discontinue funding. “We have not changed our direction; we have always engaged in Zionist advocacy and responding to post-Zionist trends,” Im Tirtzu says.
It was reported yesterday that JHM, headed by the Protestant preacher Pastor John Hagee, has all but decided to drop Im Tirtzu from the list of pro-Israel causes to which it contributes. Lee Wunsch, head of the Jewish Federation in Houston through which Hagee funnels much of his contributions to Israel, explained that Hagee “will not continue that funding [to Im Tirtzu], 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.”
A spokesman for Hagee Ministries, Ari Morgenstern, accused Im Tirtzu of “misrepresenting its focus when they told us their mission was strictly Zionist education… We had no prior knowledge of Im Tirtzu's prior political actions and we never seek to involve ourselves in Israel's internal political debate."
“We have remained consistent in our goals,” an Im Tirtzu source told Israel National News. A spokesman was originally quoted as saying only that it thanks John Hagee Ministries for its support up until now.
Im Tirtzu, founded four years ago, has launched two aggressive campaigns in recent months, one against the New Israel Fund, and the other against Ben Gurion University in the Negev. Both campaigns are part of Im Tirtzu’s struggle against “entities that are active within Israeli society [which] have taken the lead in the campaign of incitement and anti-Israel propaganda, such as Israeli professors or academics who stand at the forefront of calls for an academic boycott of Israel, ‘New Historians’ who distort history and seek to portray Zionism as a colonial enterprise, or dozens of Israeli extra-parliamentary organizations who accuse Israel of war crimes and apartheid policies.” [from its website]
Im Tirtzu currently operates branches on nine campuses all over Israel: at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University, Haifa University, Ben Gurion University in the Negev, Bar Ilan University, the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center, Ariel University Center, Ruppin College and the Holon Technological Institute.
Pastor Hagee, a strong supporter of Israel and the Jewish right to Judea and Samaria, has known controversy in the past. Some of his positions have earned him enemies in the Catholic Church, nor has he totally succeeded in convincing the religious Jewish public that he is not out to convert them.
When the Daystar Television Network began broadcasting in Israel, a joyful Hagee said, “It’s just all I can do to keep from getting up and dancing. It’s a joy and it’s a dream come true. If we are able to preach the gospel without reservation [in Israel]... it’s a major breakthrough.” Others say that Hagee has proven himself to be a true friend of Israel, while still others say that while he acknowledges his "deep belief in the exclusivity of salvation through the Christian Gospel,” he does not take active steps to realize this goal among Jews.