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Ben-Gurion University donor: Im Tirtzu are bullies

Jan Liff of Tennessee irked by movement's threat to drive away philanthropists if Beersheba university fails to appoint right-wing staff members. 'Such an attack reflects ignorance,' she tells Ynet, adding it will only make her increase donations

WASHINGTON – One of Ben-Gurion University's most important donors says the Im Tirtzu movement, which threatened to drive away philanthropists if the university failed to appoint right-wing staff members, is a "bully" organization and that its effort to drive away donors is "foolish and won't succeed."


In an interview to Ynet, Jan Liff of Tennessee says that "such an attack only urges me to increase by donation." According to Leaf, who donates both to Ben-Gurion University and to the New Israel Fund, the American donors are committed to academic freedom.


"I know other donors and I don't think that such an attack on academic freedom, or the political opinion of one staff members of another, has any significance. On the contrary, it only influences donors to stand by the university."


Liff, who is considered an important Ben-Gurion University donor since 1978, was agitated by Im Tirtzu's threat last week. She says proudly that "Ben-Gurion University is popular and has issued more publications than any other university in Israel. Insulting the university with such an attack reflects Im Tirtzu's ignorance."


In its letter to University President Prof. Rebecca Carmi, Im Tirtzu threatened to ask donors to deposit their funds to a trust fund managed by a lawyer should the university fail to meet their demands within 30 days, and replace some of the staff and change the study program.


According to the movement's activists, President Carmi "allowed the academic dictatorship to gain control of academic freedom and considerably limit intellectual pluralism."


'Donors don't care about internal politics'

The Tennessee donor explains that "Jews worldwide won't remain silent in the face of bullying. Jews will support brilliant universities like Ben-Gurion, which provide important services to Israelis and conduct studies for the entire world about desertification, children, equal rights for students, religious pluralism and social justice."


Alongside her surprise by the attempt to harm the university, she directs her criticism at the right-wing organization. "We, the American donors, are subject to American laws, and my question is whether such a non-profit organization in Israel is committed to transparency?


"What are Israel's standards? Can such an organization intimidate and attack another organization? Where is their respect for people's opinions? What is Im Tirtzu's financial source? Is this money clean or dirty? I don't think the Beersheba university's donors care about internal political problems when it comes to the academia."



פרסום ראשון: 08.22.10, 10:06
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