The David Project
The David Project in its own words is:
- a grassroots initiative that promotes a fair and honest understanding of the Middle East conflict.The David Project was launched in August, 2002 in Boston, MA, in response to the growing ideological assault on Israel. We train people to be pro-active in their Israel advocacy - to counter the unfair and dishonest discourse in our universities, media, and communities.
What others say
The group gained notoriety when it produced a film purporting to prove bias by Columbia Univ. Middle Eastern Studies (MEALAC) professors, in particular, Prof. Joseph Massad. The group seeks to influence the composition of the Middle East Departments at universities around the US. It also features speakers on "terrorism" and "anti-semitism". Or as Sara Roy explains:
- Meanwhile, Columbia University is embroiled in a controversy involving its Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures Department. The David Project, a pro-Israel group based in Boston, made a documentary called Columbia Unbecoming which presented a series of interviews with student supporters of Israel who said they had been intimidated and harassed by members of the department who are allegedly hostile to the Jewish state. After hearing about the film, Anthony Weiner, a Democratic New York congressman, called on Columbia’s president, Lee Bollinger, to dismiss Joseph Massad, an assistant professor who is accused in the documentary of anti-semitism, and of verbally abusing Israeli and Jewish students. Massad has long been the target of a campaign of intimidation against academics – Jewish and non-Jewish – who criticise Israel. Deluged by hate mail calling him a ‘camel jockey’ and ‘pathetic typical Arab liar’, he has decided not to teach his course on Palestinian and Israeli Politics and Societies this semester.
A recent article by Scott Sherman provides further background:
- The roots of the Columbia conflict can be traced back to campus political developments in 2001 and early 2002. In March 2002 a network of national Jewish organizations met to evaluate what they saw as an alarming rise in anti-Israel activity on campus. From those meetings emerged the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC), which is a partnership of Hillel and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. (The three organizations share a building in Washington.) According to a 2002 article for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, a Jewish-oriented news service, top-flight talent was brought in to advise the ICC and assemble a battle plan. "Pro-Israel professionals from the elite consulting firm McKinsey & Company offered pro-bono services," the article noted. Those professionals created a document for the ICC arguing that "the primary goal for this year should be to 'take back the campus' by influencing public opinion through lectures, the Internet and coalitions." The ICC--which recently received a $1,050,000 grant from the Schusterman Foundation, and whose speakers list includes Daniel Pipes – has an impressive array of "members": AIPAC, ADL, Americans for Peace Now and the Zionist Organization of America, among others.
- The ICC has a single "affiliate member": the David Project. The David Project is led by Charles Jacobs, who is a co-founder of CAMERA, the pro-Israel media watchdog group; the founder of the American Anti-Slavery Group, which calls itself "America's leading human rights group dedicated to abolishing modern day slavery worldwide"; and, along with Richard Perle, Charles Krauthammer and Bill Kristol, among others, a member of the board of advisers of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. The ICC's website lists a number of "regional ICCs" that receive "strategic advice and guidance" from the Washington headquarters. The regional ICC representative in New York is none other than Rachel Fish, the director of the David Project's New York office. Jacobs was tight-lipped in a recent interview: He refused to provide details about his financial backers, referring only to unnamed "individuals and foundations"; and he declined to elaborate on the extent to which the David Project receives tactical advice from professional pro-Israel lobbyists and operatives allied with the ICC.
In 2004, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation — with assets of $100 million — gave a $1,050,000 grant to Hillel to support the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC) project. Now, the only project of the ICC is the David Project.
Principals and featured speakers
- Charles Jacobs – President
- Rachel Fish – Director NY office
- Tal Ben Shahar – Director of Training
- Ralph Avi Goldwasser – Project head
- Dexter Van Zile – Christian Outreach Coordinator for the David Project
- Ariel Beery – ("served as a spokesman for the Israeli military, is the head of the on-campus Zionist group, and is also an agent and informer for Daniel Pipes' notorious Campus-Watch"
- Avi Jorisch
- Rachel Fish
- Tal Ben Shahar
- Joseph Abdel Wahed
- Loolwa Khazzoom
- Walid Phares
- Malaka Bublil
- Dennis Hale
- Batia Shems
- Richard Land
- Francis Bok – Escaped Sudanese Slave/Labor Rights Activist/Author
- Carole Basri
- Charles Jacobs
- Eliad Moreh
- Coalition for Responsible Peace in the Middle East
- Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC), which is a partnership of these organizations:
- Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation
- Junaid Alam, "Columbia University and the New Anti-Semitism", CounterPunch, 2 March 2005. Presents an overall discussion of the nature of the group, its principals, and its activities.
- Sara Roy, "Intimidation", London Review of Books, Vol. 27, No. 4, 17 Feb. 2005.
- Scott Sherman, "The Mideast Comes to Columbia", The Nation, 16 March 2005.
- Bob Feldman, "The Israel on Campus Coalition and the David Project: Sponsored by US oil and Israeli bank profits?", ElectronicIntifada, 25 April 2005.
- Ali Abunimah, "Israel lobby group outlines dirty tricks against campus Palestine activists", Electronic Intifada, 24 June 2011.