David Harris’ David Harris problem


David Harris has a problem. And his problem is named David Harris.

The executive director of the nonpartisan American Jewish Committee shares a name with the president and CEO of the decidedly non-nonpartisan National Jewish Demcoratic Council. To maker matters worse, they have the same middle initial!

The AJC’s David Harris kvetches in The Jerusalem Post:


…I’ve spent a lot of years avoiding party affiliation or label, and, I should add, my organization’s tax-exempt status depends on strict nonpartisanship.

In fact, despite countless pleas, I’ve even refused to tell my beloved mother how I vote, lest she inadvertently reveal it to a friend or, worse, the hairdresser.

But now, my nemesis pops up in The New York Times or Wall Street Journal with some regularity, all the more so as the election season heats up and the Jewish vote is once again in play. There he is, at every step, lauding the Democrats and panning the Republicans.

And as sure as day follows night, each time he surfaces, I get emails from folks of the Republican persuasion along the following lines: “Aha, I suspected it all along. You really are a Democrat, despite your attempted cover. And AJC is just another one of those liberal organizations fronting as a nonpartisan group.”

Each note requires a personal reply, with, I might add, no guarantee of success. No, that’s not me, you see, that’s the other David Harris. I’m the nonpartisan guy.

To be fair, the dueling David Harrises are not the only ones with this problem. And I don’t just mean that there are other David Harrises in the mix (though, as AJC David Harris notes, there are). Rather, there is an equally vexing and even more expansive Steve Cohen problem. (There are two Stephen P. Cohens — one a Middle East expert, the other a South Asia expert, and let’s not even get started on the various Steven Cohens, etc.)

But things could be worse: As the Forward noted several years ago, there are two Norman Finkelsteins who write about Zionism — and do so from diametrically opposed perspectives (one, admittedly, more famous/infamous than the other). The Forward’s article elicited a letter to the editor from an overlooked third Norman Finkelstein who also writes on Jewish topics. (He went to college with one of the other two Norman Finkelsteins and explained that his views on Israel likely fell somewhere between theirs.)

UPDATE: Things aren’t quite as dire as AJC David Harris suggests in his blog post: Turns out that while the two men share the same middle initial, they have different middle names! AJC David Harris is "Alan" whereas NJDC David Harris is "Aaron."

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