WASHINGTON – After weeks of uncertainty, The Israel Project (TIP), a Washington-based pro-Israel organization, closed its operation in Jerusalem. Its Washington offices are also expected to close shortly.
The organization, established in 2002, has seen a rapid decline in donations in recent years: from $8.7 million in 2015 to $4.9 million in 2016. And last month, its CEO Josh Block resigned as well.
“People from many different organizations are calling to show support,” said Lior Weintraub, former head of the project’s Israel office. “From the IDF to Israeli politicians, people want to know what happened.”
Weintraub told The Jerusalem Post that he believes US-Israel relations will pay a price from the organization’s closing.
“There is a great need for a non-partisan organization that can mediate the reality in Israel for senior journalists and commentators,” he said. “These are the people who are shaping the world narrative, and they require a different kind of engagement. They won’t be convinced by watching a Facebook video ad on the conflict.”
According to Weintraub, there are conversations about next steps. He said that “There’s a chance that the organization will have a successor. TIP has a unique mission. If no one continues its work, there will be a need to reinvent it. Something else will need to fill the void.”
In a lengthy Facebook post, he suggested that the reason for the decline of support is the non-partisan nature of the organization.
“TIP Israel was the Israel branch and the content manufacturer of an American organization that in its basis fed off the commitment and kindness of mostly American citizens, mostly Jewish, from both sides of the political spectrum: Democrats and Republicans,” he wrote.
“In the struggle over the Iran nuclear deal, we went all the way uncompromisingly,” he continued. “After that, in the last two and half years when the polarization in America reached new highs, we safeguarded our apolitical bipartisan middle line – with all the strength possible and no compromises – because we knew it was the right way to serve Israel and it was the way to serve Israel-US relations.”
“He added that “Democratic supporters turned to new ways, because we attacked the deal, because American politics placed Israel in the political debate in America [and] we did not choose a side – and because support for Israel is complex for them these days.Republican supporters choose to support ventures that express their worldview clearly and sharply,” Weintraub continued. “There were no buyers for anything in the middle in 2019, and TIP as a middle organization was the first victim of polarization in the pro-Israeli system in America... to a large extent this is fine: There are goals for which it is worth getting hurt in the long run.”