The organization borrows its name from the Hanukkah story’s heroes, and its founder is one of America’s highest-profile Jewish philanthropists. Yet as dozens of national Jewish nonprofits devote resources to fighting anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism on college campuses, the Maccabee Task Force (MTF) says it isn’t concerned about getting “credit” for pro-Israel victories.
In July 2015, a Brandeis University survey found that nearly 75 percent of North American Jewish college students reported experiencing some level of anti-Semitism. The same year, with funding from business magnate and philanthropist Sheldon Adelson, MTF was launched with the stated purpose of giving students “strategies and resources” to counter the BDS movement.
While Adelson’s name recognition brought MTF the expected media attention, the organization has kept an intentionally low profile and lets the college students lead the way, MTF Director David Brog, the founding executive director and a current board member of Christians United for Israel, tells JNS.org.
“What we found quickly is that it is best to work behind the scenes, and let the students on the frontlines and the pro-Israel professionals who actually live on the campus lead the way,” Brog says. “If you let them take credit and responsibility for what you do, then they welcome the help and together we can come up with really effective plans.”
Campus professionals echo the organization’s self-assessment.
“They (MTF) understand that only students fully understand the intricacies of campus activism,” says Rabbi Aaron Lerner, executive director of Hillel at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). “I keep a growing list of organizations who claim to be doing anti-BDS work on campus. Oddly, only a small percentage of them work directly with students.”…