(JTA) — An anti-BDS group founded by casino magnate Sheldon Adelson did not fund a poster campaign targeting pro-Palestinian student activists as “Jew haters” and terrorists’ allies, contrary to a report in a major newspaper, the group said.
The Maccabee Task Force in a statement issued late Wednesday called the report in the Los Angeles Times “completely false,” saying the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a conservative foundation based in Los Angeles, confirmed that it did not use funds from a task force grant to pay for the controversial campaign.
“Earlier this week a surprising report surfaced in the media that a modest grant approved by the Maccabee Task Force to the David Horowitz Freedom Center had been used to fund a poster campaign that targeted student activists,” the statement said. “The Maccabee Task Force never authorized or approved such a poster campaign. And the David Horowitz Freedom Center has since confirmed that it never used our funds for this campaign. In short, the newspaper report was completely false.”
On Monday, the Maccabee Task Force issued a disavowal of the poster campaign following the Los Angeles Times report. The campaign launched in February. According to the report, Horowitz said the grant “helped him wage” a campaign that included posters on five California campuses.
The posters were condemned by some Jewish student groups, including J Street U and Jewish Voice for Peace; the latter backs the BDS movement.
One poster, which appeared on the University of California, Santa Barbara campus, included the names of prominent campus BDS activists and said, “The following students and faculty at UC Santa Barbara have allied themselves with Palestinian terrorists to perpetrate BDS and Jew Hatred on this campus.”
The task force in its statement criticized the poster campaign.
“We have not and will not support public attacks on student activists who behave in a civil fashion,” it said. “We want to focus on and win the battle of ideas. We will continue to stress making the positive case for Israel while also teaching the truth about the BDS movement’s founding, goals and national leadership.
“Over the past year the Maccabee Task Force has learned that our most effective partners are those with a permanent presence on campus. Student activists and campus-based professionals were at the heart of every successful program we funded last school year. We will continue to emphasize this approach in our future grant making.”
Adelson, a casino operator and pro-Israel philanthropist, launched the task force at a summit in Las Vegas in 2015 that brought together other philanthropists each willing to donate $1 million to the project.