Brian Lurie Takes Aim at Occupation

New Israel Fund Chief Admits Being 'Rebel' at Heart

Rebel With a Cause: Rabbi Brian Lurie says the New Israel Fund is anchored in Jewish values.
haaretz
Rebel With a Cause: Rabbi Brian Lurie says the New Israel Fund is anchored in Jewish values.

By Chemi Shalev (Haaretz)

Published August 04, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 7 of 8)

Since then, in 33 years of activity, NIF has raised over $300 million to fund scores of organizations and nonprofits in Israel that deal with social welfare, single mothers, Israeli Arabs, Ethiopian women, religious pluralism and a host of other causes. Throughout its existence, the NIF has been criticized from time to time for funding “anti-Zionist” groups, but nothing comes even close to the virulent campaign unleashed against the NIF in 2010 by Im Tirtzu, which infamously featured a poster of Naomi Chazan with a horn attached to her forehead. The daughter of former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Avraham Harman, Chazan was a well-respected political scientist, author and deputy speaker of the Knesset prior to her time at the NIF.

The NIF, which had hitherto been operating in Israel away from the limelight and was largely unknown to most Israelis, was suddenly engulfed by notoriety, painted as a sort of fifth columnist which, under the guise of fighting poverty and promoting social needs, was actually hell-bent on undermining the Jewish and Zionist foundations of Israel.

But Lurie is undeterred by the NIF’s notoriety. On the contrary, he plans to leverage it to the organization’s advantage. “Two and a half years ago, not many people had heard of the NIF, and now because of Im Tirtzu the NIF has become famous, or infamous, one way or the other. The challenge now is leadership. Once you are put in this position, you can either duck and go back to ‘I don’t want to be involved,’ or you can say, ‘All right: We have to lead.’ I believe the moment now is one of leadership.”

Lurie does not divulge all of his plans for the NIF, but one element that stands out is that he seeks to expand its operations among what he calls “Tel-Avivniks.” Lurie wants to enlist the Tel Aviv cultural and economic elites in the NIF campaign against poverty and discrimination, and on behalf of pluralism and democracy. “I don’t think it’s a good thing that both the NIF and its operating arm, Shatil, are in Jerusalem, while the group that is probably closest to us in values is in Tel Aviv. I think we have to have serious operations in Tel Aviv. We have to get close to the business community, and the cultural community, and the leadership of the country. And I’m sure they will understand us very clearly as a result of this kind of interaction.”

‘Hot’ models

Lurie’s model is the New York philanthropy group Robin Hood Foundation, in which his son Daniel worked before returning to San Francisco to set up a similar organization called Tipping Point. Both organizations, lauded by philanthropy professionals and endorsed by public figures and celebrities, have raised tens of millions of dollars and run their organizations in an efficient, business-like manner - in what Fortune magazine describes as “venture philanthropy.” Lurie hopes to emulate a key element of their success by recruiting top financial consultants, high-tech companies and legal firms to help in managing the NIF and its associated agencies.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • What's it like to be Chagall's granddaughter?
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.