The David Project

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The David Project
David Project Logo.jpg
Motto Educating Voices for Israel
Formation 2002
Headquarters Boston, MA
Executive Director
David Bernstein
Website www.davidproject.org

The David Project, is a Zionist non-profit educational organization located in Boston, Massachusetts, with satellite offices in New York and Israel. The David Project's stated aim is "to positively shape campus opinion on Israel by educating, training, and empowering student leaders to be thoughtful, strategic and persuasive advocates."[1] It was founded in 2002 by Charles Jacobs, who served as its president until August 2008. The current Executive Director is David Bernstein.[2] Bernstein, previously Program Director of AJC, began leading the David Project in July 2010. Marilyn Goldman serves as the Assistant Executive Director, Operations and Finance, and Todd Young serves as the Director of Education. [3]

Mission[edit]

From the website of The David Project, "The David Project positively shapes campus opinion on Israel by educating, training, and empowering student leaders to be thoughtful, strategic and persuasive advocates." [1] In 2010 the David Project hired David Bernstein, from the American Jewish Committee, as executive director. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency described this as a "continuing bid to transition from campus rabble rousers to more mainstream educators".[4] The founder and former head of the David Project, Charles Jacobs, opposed this change in direction, writing "It was precisely the failure of Jewish mainstream organizations on America's campuses that inspired the David Project's birth."[5]

Activities[edit]

Campus[edit]

  • Summer Seminars – four-day Israel education, activism and leadership seminars
  • Campus Support – Regional campus coordinators work closely with students to develop and implement effective strategies for Israel activism[6]

Curricula[edit]

  • "Israel & the Middle East: The Conflict in Context" curriculum for Jewish high school students
  • "People, Place and Self: The Jewish Connection to Israel" for Jewish day schools and supplemental schools, grades 8–12
  • The David Project Teacher Training Institute

Community education[edit]

  • Films
  • Speakers Bureau
  • Israel education workshops[7]

Documentaries[edit]

The Forgotten Refugees[edit]

The David Project and IsraTV produced the documentary film The Forgotten Refugees in 2005. The film "explores the history and destruction of Middle Eastern Jewish communities, some of which had existed for over 2,500 years. It chronicles the impact of the Arab Muslim conquest, the development of Judeo-Arab culture, and the modern rise of Arab nationalism that drove out hundreds of thousands of Jews from their homes and communities."[8]

The film has been screened at numerous film festivals, winning the "Best Featured Documentary" at the Warsaw Jewish Film Festival in 2006 and "Best Documentary Film" at the 2007 Marbella International Film Festival.[9][10]

Columbia Unbecoming[edit]

In 2004, the David Project produced a documentary film entitled Columbia Unbecoming. The purpose of the film was to respond to Columbia University's Middle East studies program that, according to the organization, prevented "free and open [academic] inquiry." The film featured the testimony of "students charging that they were intimidated and harassed by professors" in order to give "voice to students who have experienced incidents of academic abuse and intimidation" at the school. Ultimately, "the goal of the film was to alert Columbia University to the issue so that they could resolve it internally" since "students could not lodge complaints through the appropriate channels at Columbia."[11] Opponents of film characterized it as "academic intimidation" and an attempt to stifle open academic debate,[12][13] although the David Project argued that "the video supports academic freedom by exposing the suppression of dissenting views in the classroom."[11]

The contents of the film spurred Columbia's President Lee Bollinger to create an ad hoc faculty committee in order to address student charges "that they were being intimidated by faculty members and being excluded from participating fully in classroom discussions because of their views."[14] While the committee's findings did not lead to any broad-based change in university policy, Columbia Professor Joseph Massad was criticized for inappropriate classroom conduct in an incident in which he reportedly yelled at a student, "If you're going to deny the atrocities being committed against Palestinians, then you can get out of my classroom!"[14] After investigation, all allegations against Professor Massad were found to be unsubstantiated.

Harvard University[edit]

The David Project was instrumental in pressuring Harvard University to reject funds from Sheik Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, ruler of the United Arab Emirates, who funded and lent his name to an anti-American, anti-Semitic think-tank based in Abu Dhabi. The campaign, led by The David Project's Rachel Fish and her student supporters, contributed to Zayed's decision to shut down the Zayed Center in August 2003, saying that it "had engaged in a discourse that starkly contradicted the principles of interfaith tolerance."[15]

In July 2004, the campaign concluded when Harvard decided to reject the $2.5 million donation from the Sheikh "in light of the Zayed Center's having promoted activities in evident conflict with the purposes of the gift."[16] Through her activist work, Rachel Fish was named one of the "Forward Fifty," a list of the 50 most influential Jews in America, in 2003.[17]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]