- The David Project Center for Jewish Leadership
The David Project Center for Jewish Leadership is a non-profit corporation located in
Boston, Massachusetts, with satellite offices in New York and in Israel. The David Project's stated aim is "to promote a fair and honest understanding of the Arab-Israeli conflict." [ [http://davidproject.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogsection&id=4&Itemid=27 "Our Mission"] , The David Project, accessed July 29, 2006.] It was founded in 2002 by Charles Jacobs, who served as its president until August 2008. The current Executive Director is Anna Kolodner. [ [http://www.davidproject.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=231&Itemid=70 The David Project announces change in Leadership] . The David Project, accessed September 2, 2008] [Non-profit corporation "Summary Sheet" for [http://corp.sec.state.ma.us/corp/corpsearch/CorpSearchSummary.asp?ReadFromDB=True&UpdateAllowed=&FEIN=161616489 The David Project, Inc.] n.d., "The Commonwealth of Massachusetts: Corporations Division" (copyright 2001-2006), accessed July 27, 2006; cf. [http://davidproject.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=37&Itemid=58 "A New Team for a New Time with a Strong Sense of Mission,"] The David Project (copyright 2006), accessed July 31, 2006.] Previously, Jacobs served as Deputy Director of the Boston Chapter of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America[http://camera.org/index.asp?x_context=48] and founded the American Anti-Slavery Group.
According to its website, The David Project is "committed to building
Jewish leadership; increasing the support for Israelon campus; strengthening the pro-Israel and pro-Jewish sentiments and friendships within churches; and working in partnership with Jewish day schools and synagogueafter-school programs to incorporate Israel advocacy and leadership skills into their core curricula."
(From official website of The David Project:)
The David Project works to "develop educated, skilled and courageous leaders to defeat the ideological assault on Israel that is taking place on campuses, in high schools, in churches and in the general community."
This statement has been updated recently to reflect the viewpoint of The David Project that this is "a new time" for the Jewish people: "Israel is depicted as the cruelest among nations, and falsely singled out as the primary cause of conflict in the Middle East and in the world. The ideological onslaught against the Jewish State – in the media, mainstream churches, and on campus – masquerades as legitimate criticism but is in reality an unfair and dishonest discourse which vilifies and delegitimizes Israel – and her supporters. This is, in effect, a new form of hatred." [http://davidproject.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogsection&id=4&Itemid=27 "The David Project Responds to a New Time,"] , The David Project, accessed
July 29, 2006. Cf. New anti-Semitism.]
A description of "
Columbia Unbecoming", a film produced by The David Project and featured on its official website, states: "We believe in Jewish political self-determination in the Middle East, and are proud to be called Zionists." [Qtd. from item number 8 of The David Projects [http://www.columbiaunbecoming.com/ "Key Points about the Columbia Unbecoming video."] ]
(From official website of The David Project:)
* Four-day intensive Israel-advocacy and leadership seminars for college students.
* Four-day teacher training institutes, featuring an "Israel Advocacy Curriculum for Jewish High Schools."
* Short advocacy workshops: "The David Project helps students and adults become more effective advocates for Israel. Our educational workshops can be delivered as a 90-minute lecture or as a three-hour interactive session."
* Christian Outreach program: "Through a combination of research, grassroots lobbying and consulting, the David Project’s Christian Outreach program hold church leaders accountable for their statements and policies about the Arab/Israeli conflict."
* Documentary productions ("Our Films"): "Columbia Unbecoming" (see Controversy) and "
The Forgotten Refugees".
The David Project Center for Jewish Leadership has sparked controversy at academic institutions and in the media, particularly about its film "Columbia Unbecoming" ("A David Project documentary") about
Columbia University. [See [http://davidproject.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=17&Itemid=38 Columbia Unbecoming - A David Project documentary] , n.d. (copyright 2006), accessed July 28, 2006; video clip featured in website section called [http://davidproject.org "Our Films"] . Cf. [http://www.columbiaunbecoming.com/ "Key Points about the Columbia Unbecoming video"] and Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger, [http://www.columbia.edu/cu/president/communications%20files/davidprojectfilm.htm "Statement on the David Project Film"] , press release, October 27, 2004, accessed August 6, 2006.] Journalists provide background for the continuing controversy when, " [i] n December  , with the approval of Columbia University president Lee Bollinger and Provost Alan Brinkley, Nicholas Dirks, vice president for Arts and Sciences, appointed a committee, composed of members from his faculty, to investigate charges by a number of students in the Middle East studies department that certain of its professors bullied and humiliated students who wanted to question in class those professors' insistently biased views of the state of Israel" (Hentoff). [ Cf. [http://www.campus-watch.org/article/id/1841 "David Project Reacts to Columbia Report on Student Harassment,"] " Campus Watch", March 31, 2005, accessed July 29, 2006; Nat Hentoff, [http://www.villagevoice.com/news/0510,hentoff,61802,6.html "Columbia Still Unbecoming,"] " The Village Voice", March 4, 2005; Scott Sherman, [http://www.thenation.com/docprint.mhtml?i=20050404&s=sherman "The Mideast Comes to Columbia,"] " The Nation", April 4, 2005, both accessed July 28, 2006; selection of [http://www.columbiaunbecoming.com/press.htm "press coverage of the film"] provided by The David Project with hyperlinks.] The makeup and process of that Columbia University committee further stimulated one of many heated debates among supporters and detractors of The David Project and its film. [See item 7 of [http://www.columbiaunbecoming.com/ "Key Points about the Columbia Unbecoming video"] ; cf. Some examples of commentary and critique relating to CAMERA, the media watchdog organization co-founded by Charles Jacobs.]
A 2005 article in "The Nation" on "Columbia Unbecoming" described the film as a "propaganda film: one that portrays Jewish students as "silenced" by professors who "criticize Israel and...question its legitimacy"; in which vague and anonymous accusations are tossed about by students whose faces are sometimes blurred and whose voices are sometimes masked; which deliberately conflates what instructors say in the classroom with what they publish and do outside the classroom; and which attributes sinister motives to Columbia administrators and faculty, not one of whom is given the opportunity to respond to the allegations." [cite news
title=The Mideast Comes to Columbia
date=April 2, 2005]
Boston mosque controversy
In 2005, The David Project and its director of education were named as defendants in a lawsuit against 17 individuals and entities, including the Boston Herald and Fox Television's Channel 25, in which the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB) alleges that they "conspired to publish and broadcast false and defamatory information about mosque leaders in part to halt development of [a] project ... [p] lanned as the largest mosque in New England." In 2006, The David Project sued the Boston Redevelopment Authority to obtain documents regarding the authority's sale of land to the Islamic Society of Boston for construction of a mosque, and uncovered evidence that some funding for the mosque had come from the Islamic Development Bank of Saudi Arabia. [cite news
title=Group opposed to Roxbury mosque sues BRA for documents
date=October6, 2006] [cite news
title=The Boston mosque's Saudi connection
date=January 10, 2007] . On May 29th, 2007, the ISB dropped its lawsuit against all defendants. [cite news
title=Islamic Society of Boston suit moves forward
date=September 30, 2006
publisher=Boston Globe] [cite news
title=Exchange of letters between Jessica Masse of The Islamic Society and Charles Jacobs of The David Project
publisher = Boston Globe
date=December 20, 2006
url=http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/letters/articles/2006/12/28/islamic_society_of_boston_david_project_air_grievances/] [cite news
title=Islamic Society drops lawsuit
url = http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2007/05/30/islamic_society_drops_lawsuit/] After the lawsuit was dropped,
Charles Jacobsof the David Project continued opposition to the building of the mosque, saying "We are more concerned now than we have ever been about a Saudi influence of local mosques." [cite news | title=Lawsuits Dropped, But Battles Over Boston Mosque Continue
date=June 27, 2007]
The David Project Announces Change in Leadership
From The David Project Press Release
July 29, 2008 – Boston, MA – The David Project Center for Jewish Leadership today announced that President and co-founder Charles Jacobs, after having successfully established the organization as a premier pro-Israel educational institution, has decided to leave in order to focus on a new initiative in support of the Jewish community. Anna Kolodner, Executive Director, will assume the leadership of the organization.
“Charles has spent his career founding organizations that promote groundbreaking ideas and initiatives,” stated Seth Klarman, Chairman of the Board of Directors. “Speaking for the Board, we are sorry to see Charles leave the David Project. We offer Charles our warmest and deepest thanks for all that he has done for the Jewish Community and Israel, and we sincerely wish him all the best with his new undertaking.”
“It’s been a privilege to work with The David Project’s outstanding staff,” Jacobs said. ”It is very difficult to leave the organization, but I leave knowing that it is solidly established and in extraordinarily capable hands. I am extremely confident that Anna and the dedicated leadership team we’ve built will continue to expand The David Project’s impact.”
Jacobs said his new initiative will seek to educate the public about the threats faced by the Jewish community and American society.
Before launching The David Project, Dr. Jacobs co-founded The American Anti-Slavery Group, which brought the genocide in Sudan to national attention and helped free slaves from Sudan to Brookline, MA. Prior to that, he partnered with Andrea Levin to found the Boston branch of CAMERA.
“Charles and Anna worked hand-in-glove to help build and manage The David Project, and have managed to create a first class institute for educating students and adults about Israel,” said Klarman. Anna is a talented leader, and she has played a vital role developing and expanding our core initiatives. The Board has every faith that under her direction, The David Project will continue to thrive.”
“I am honored to have worked with Charles and to be able to continue and advance the important work of The David Project,“ said Kolodner. “The David Project is having a significant impact on Jewish communities around the country and beyond: Our curriculum on the Arab-Israeli conflict will be in more than 100 Jewish High Schools this fall and 16 gap-year programs in Israel. This coming school year, we are extending our reach with four new and creative curricula for congregational high schools and middle schools. It is incredibly rewarding to be a part of this organization.”
Lawrence Muscant, who had served previously as the organization’s national director of campus strategy, will assume the position of Deputy Director, effective immediately. In his new role, Lawrence will work closely with Anna to lead the organization.
Israel Campus Roundtable(the David Project is a member)
* [http://davidproject.org The David Project Center for Jewish Leadership] Official website
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