The David Project works primarily on college campuses to improve sentiment towards Israel. We look at the campus environment and ask: Who are the main stakeholders, who are the main opinion leaders, and how can we help students connect with them in the best way possible? We then train, educate, and guide students to make sure they know how to reach out to the right groups and talk about Israel in the most effective way.
What is the meaning behind The David Project's name?
The David Project was founded in 2002 because there was a growing sense that Israel had once been perceived as the David in the David and Goliath story, but now was being perceived by many as the Goliath. The goal of The David Project was to reclaim the David, the status of the underdog. It is true that we still view Israel very much as the David in the David and Goliath story, but we’re also expanding our idea of who David was. He was a very good leader, but a sometimes flawed king who made mistakes along the way. Just as David wasn’t perfect, Israel isn’t perfect either. Israel is a work in progress, and a work of progress.
Why does The David Project focus on changing college campuses?
The college campus is quite vulnerable to anti-Israelism and is one place where the debate is taking place about Israel. It’s where future American leaders are forged. The next President of the United States will almost certainly have gone to college, and probably at one of a hundred or so schools where there is a debate on the Middle East. The next members of congress and the next head of the National Council of La Raza will have gone to such campuses. Many Jewish students will have gone to one of these 100 college campuses around the United States. If the U.S. is to remain pro-Israel, it’s extremely important that we help create a balanced and thoughtful environment towards Israel on these campuses.
Is there an ideal type of student that The David Project looks to support?
There is no single profile of a campus leader. We realize that we need to have a diversity of student leaders. Of course we want students who are educated, articulate and thoughtful, but the truth is, like any workplace team, we need a team on campus that has a variety of strengths and skills in order to be effective. We need people who are substance people, who understand, with depth, the challenges that Israel is facing. We need marketing and creative people who can bring an idea to life. We need business-oriented people who know how to build an organization. We need people who have technical skills to help us in the social media space and to produce videos. We need all of these skills around the table to have an effective campaign on a college campus.
How do you define advocacy on campuses?
Advocacy is an intentional effort to influence opinions or decision making. Our approach to advocacy is relationship driven and involves building relationships with the various segments of the campus community to enhance students’ understanding of and appreciation for Israel.
The campus environment is more sympathetic and supportive of a democratic and pluralistic Jewish State.
Young Jews are fully connected to, confident in their support for and effective in speaking and acting on behalf of Israel. Campuses are populated with capable, articulate Zionist student leaders willing to engage the campus community.
American and other Diaspora Jews are better informed about and more effective in making the case for Israel.
There continues to be a strong pro-Israel community ensuring Israel’s fair treatment in the public arena and perpetuating and enhancing the special relationship between the US and Israel.
We are dedicated to the security and vitality of Israel and long-term American support.
We believe that the perspectives of tomorrow’s leaders are being shaped on campus today.
We focus on campuses with a challenging ideological environment for Israel and significant opportunities for improving Israel’s standing on campus.
We recognize that all campuses are different and require a unique approach.
We educate, train, and empower student leaders to engage and partner with diverse segments of the campus community.
We seek partnerships with complementary organizations to strengthen our collective impact.
We respect a diversity of viewpoints on Israel conditioned on a shared commitment to Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state and the pursuit of peace.
David Bernstein, Executive Director Marilyn Goldman, Assistant Executive Director, Operations & Finance Lauren Dorn-Jones, Director of Institutional Advancement Todd Young, Director of Education
As of June 2013, The David Project employs 23 full-time staff members.
The David Project is headquartered in Boston, MA with offices in New York, NY and Israel.
Private donors Foundations
Key Partners (partial list)
American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)
The AVI CHAI Foundation
Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston
Fuel for Truth
Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life
International Sephardic Education Foundation (ISEF)
Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC)
Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa (JIMENA)
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The David Project positively shapes campus opinion on Israel by educating, training, and empowering student leaders to be thoughtful, strategic and persuasive advocates. Since The David Project began in 2002, it has grown to embody excellence and innovation in the field of pro-Israel advocacy on campus. Each year we educate and prepare college students to assume leadership roles and support their efforts to deliver Israel programs and events to thousands of students on their campuses. Our ground-breaking Israel education curricula and our unique programs are present in more than 130 Jewish high schools and middle schools, laying a foundation for pro-Israel attitudes and advocacy in college and beyond. We are guided by a commitment to provide students and adults with the knowledge, strategies and skills to ensure that effective support for Israel thrives on campuses and in our communities.