Defying BDS, Liberty University to Invest Millions in Israel
In a show of solidarity with Israel and a repudiation of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, Virginia’s Liberty University will invest $5 million in the Jewish state, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported on Monday.
Spearheaded by Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., the plan is to invest the money in a healthcare fund run by Permanens Capital, which has an office in Israel. According to a statement released by the university, the target will be Israeli companies dealing in “oncology, biopharmaceuticals, and digital health, with a strong focus on cancer immunotherapy.”
“Liberty is glad to be part of supporting the only democracy that’s a close ally of the United States that is in such turmoil right now,” Falwell told the newspaper. He said that the idea to invest in Israel came from author Gerald Strober — who wrote a book about his late father, Jerry Falwell Sr. — who suggested that to stand up against divestment calls, Liberty should make a point to invest specifically in Israel.
Falwell told the newspaper that Liberty University has a long-standing history of support for the Jewish state, dating back to when his father was the school’s president. Falwell said that his father’s support for Israel stemmed from his religious convictions and the teaching found in Genesis 12:3 regarding God’s covenant with Abraham: “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
With the school’s initial investment of $5 million, John Regan — partner and chief investment officer for Permanens Capital — told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that Liberty’s investment committee has approved adding another $10-20 million should other good opportunities present themselves. Liberty has over $1.4 billion in total cash and investment, some $1 billion of which are endowments.
Liberty is the world’s largest Christian university and is known for being pro-Israel. In 2015, the student government passed an amendment to its constitution forbidding any legislation in support of the BDS movement. In 2010, Liberty’s student club, Stand with Israel, was granted the Activist of the Year award by pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC.
The school’s latest pro-Israel move bucks the trend of academic institutions across the US and their student governments coming out in support of the anti-Israel BDS movement.
The decision to allocate funds to Israel was adopted in late-May.