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“The CUFI Action Fund is the legislative arm of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), the nation’s largest pro-Israel organization. The Action Fund is a non-profit 501(c)(4), bipartisan organization dedicated to ensuring the millions of Christian Zionists across the country have their voices heard in our nation’s capital. Our policy focus includes support for Israel, opposition to a nuclear armed Iran, and standing with persecuted Christians in the Arab and Islamic world.”
CUFI Action Fund is the lobbying arm of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), a right-wing Christian Zionist advocacy organization. The group was launched during CUFI’s annual summit in Washington, D.C. in July 2015.
According to the Washington Post’s rightwing blogger Jennifer Rubin, CUFI Action is aiming “to do for Israel what the NRA does for Second Amendment rights.” She claims that the lobbying group is able to mobilize “religiously inspired volunteers in every state willing to work solely for the benefit of the U.S.-Israel relationship.”
CUFI Action is led by Gary Bauer, a Christian Zionist activist and former Republican presidential candidate who has long been associated with neoconservative advocacy campaigns. He reportedly has a “multimillion-dollar budget and a staff of a dozen to lobby Congress, run independent ads, support pro-Israel candidates, and target those who do not put support for the Jewish state at the top of their priority list.” At the launch of the group in July 2015, Bauer said: “You can’t just bomb Washington, D.C. three days per year. You have got to actually occupy territory.”
After the election of Donald Trump, CUFI Action quickly tried to capitalize on the administration’s apparent pro-Israel sentiment by launching a “scorecard” initiative, announced in a letter to members of Congress, to rank voting records with respect to CUFI’s agenda, including on Iran, moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, and efforts to combat the “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” (BDS) movement.
CUFI Action is essentially a uniformly Republican organization. According to Rubin: “The effort, in one sense, is a recognition that the old collegial, bipartisan model embodied by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is not suited to a time when the White House is hostile to Israel and support for Israel is plummeting on the Democratic side while isolationism lures some on the right.”
Similarly, the Daily Caller reported that CUFI Action appears to intend to “go where AIPAC does not, especially in the realm of bipartisanship. [CUFI Executive Director David] Brog and Bauer also made clear that they would act even if they disagree with AIPAC strategy. Bauer added that AIPAC-style bipartisanship has now been superseded by a new reality: ‘This is the most anti-Israel president [Barack Obama] in the history of Israel.’”
CUFI founder and chairman John Hagee has stated that Republicans in particular should be cognizant about how many “pro-Israel” voters CUFI can mobilize: “Every person running for office [in 2016] is going to be aware we have 2.2 million households. If I were a candidate especially in the Republican Party I’d be aware of how many voters will cast their vote principally on Israel.”
Positions and Activities
CUFI Action lists four central objectives: “support for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship,” “opposition to international pressure on Israel,” “opposition to a nuclear Iran,” and “support for persecuted Christians in the Arab and Islamic world.”
During the Obama administration, Bauer wildly claimed that President Obama praised “Islamic civilization” and not “Judeo-Christian civilization,” arguing that the president gives us lectures all the time about the wonders of Islamic civilization … but I am not sure he has ever used the phrase ‘Judeo-Christian civilization.'”
Bauer reiterated this sentiment in a July 2015 interview with Fox News: “What we’re lobbying on is literally the security and future of the United States, Israel, and Western civilization, and it’s a credit to CUFI’s founder that we’re in a position when the country really needs it—to be this big of a part of the debate.”
CUFI Action’s focus during the months after its launch was to generate opposition to the Iran nuclear deal. According to the fund’s communications director, Ari Morgenstern, after issuing an action alert about the deal CUFI members sent members of Congress over 150,000 anti-deal emails in a 24-hour period. Bauer argued that the nuclear agreement was the “biggest capitulation in the history of Western diplomacy.”
CUFI Action also seeks to undermine the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS), a grassroots effort by activists to put economic pressure on the Israeli government to end its occupation of Palestinian territories. According to Hagee,
CUFI Action has also sought to push legislation at the state level aimed at banning boycotts of Israel: “Our objective is to inform 5,000 plus delegates that our objective is get legislation passed in every state capital. We will boycott the boycotters. If you go after Israel economically, we will go after you.”
Regarding CUFI Actions’ modus operandi, the Daily Caller reported: “Job one, said Bauer, is the immediate commencement of daily reports to every congressional office. In addition, the Fund will mobilize core supporters across the country to create ‘centers of influence of local pastors and businessmen … leaders in their communities’ that can act in home districts the way a national office cannot. Home district activists ‘who are donors to an elected official or have a business relationship’ are in a position ‘that the Congressman or top aide will actually take their phone call,’ Bauer elaborated. Hence, the Fund will flex both national and localized muscle.”