Venture Capital Meets Philanthropy as Pro-Israel Moguls Seek New Models

Not All Embrace Glitzy Pitches and Right-Wing Politics

Mogul Rules: Joseph Hyman, president of the Center for Entrepreneurial Jewish Philanthropy, greets Noam Katz, left, minister of public diplomacy at the embassy of Israel, and donor Robert Wiener, right, at the recent Israel Summit.
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Mogul Rules: Joseph Hyman, president of the Center for Entrepreneurial Jewish Philanthropy, greets Noam Katz, left, minister of public diplomacy at the embassy of Israel, and donor Robert Wiener, right, at the recent Israel Summit.

By Nathan Guttman

Published February 11, 2014, issue of February 21, 2014.
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Participants were requested to submit a short summary of their activity and desired funding, all formulated in a way business executives can understand: organizational budget, breakdown of requested funding, and revenue categorized by the size of donation. Together these summaries made up a book for prospective donors to glance through as they listened to the presentations.

Organizers have not made the book public, but the Forward obtained a copy. It provides a fascinating snapshot of non-profit aspirations.

The Israel Project, a group focused on media education, asked for more than $1 million to set up a “war room,” a rapid response operations center to react to “Israel’s detractors who are successfully demonizing and shaping public perceptions.” The Jerusalem Press Club, a new media hub in Israel’s capital, requested funding to bring journalists to visit Israel. Fuenta Latina, an organization working with Latino and Latin American journalists, presented a program for helping Spanish-speaking reporters cover Pope Francis’ visit to Israel in May.

“It was an incredible experience,” said Leah Soibel, Fuente Latina’s founder and executive director. “The model really proved effective for us.” As a new organization, the summit in New York gave Fuente Latina a rare opportunity to reach out to funders it never would have been able to access, Soibel said.

A selection of “pro-Israel” groups working on college campuses were invited to pitch. The Israel on Campus Coalition presented a program aimed at faculty rather than students. The Hasbara Fellowship said it wants to train pro-Israel campus leaders. StandWithUs, a Los Angeles based organization, asked for funding for a social media outreach program.

Policy-oriented organizations also were represented. The Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a conservative-leaning think tank; ELNET, a European pro-Israel political advocacy organization; and NGO Monitor, an Israeli watchdog group that has campaigned against foreign funding of Israeli liberal non-profits, all asked for money. The Washington Institute for Near East Policy sought funding for public opinion polling of Palestinians, Israelis and Egyptians.


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