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Why the David Project should not turn ‘mainstream’

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To the Editor:

As the co-founder of the David Project, I find it difficult to believe your report that the organization is “turning mainstream.” It was precisely the failure of Jewish mainstream organizations on America’s campuses that inspired the David Project’s birth.

Faced for years with hostile professors and well-funded, nationally coordinated anti-Israel campaigns by Muslim and leftist organizations, unprepared Jewish students, abandoned by establishment organizations, remained largely silent and intimidated. The David Project bucked the endemically conflict-averse mainstream to change that. We taught a politically divided Jewish community to make Israel’s case in a new way: abandon the original Zionist narrative based on the partition of Mandate Palestine by colonial powers, as this was thoroughly deconstructed by the left and Palestinians; and populate the campuses with knowledgeable, articulate pro-Israel students who would not — like our feckless mainstream organizations — shy away from debating or be defensive about discussing the Middle East conflict.

We were successful in enlisting more than 120 Jewish day schools in our 14-unit course about the Arab-Israeli conflict, and taught students how to educate others. Every year, thousands of David Project-trained students go on to the campuses to engage in the debate.

Moreover, we felt it was important to expose the ugly hostility toward Israel and its supporters on campus, as we did with great success with our film “Columbia Unbecoming.”

It is amazing to think that the “mainstream” approach that has failed for the past 30 years continues to be favored by the Jewish establishment.

Charles Jacobs

EDITOR’S NOTE: The writer is no longer affiliated with the David Project.

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