We are thrilled to share this press release published by the American Jewish Press Association!
Despite the Expansion of the Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) Movement, The David Project Announces Growth to 12 New Key College Campuses
BOSTON, Mass. June 17, 2015 – As a sophomore at Vanderbilt University, Troy was passionate about leading his campus to create a more welcoming and open place for LGBT students. When he was invited to travel to Israel last year on Israel Uncovered with peers from his campus he questioned whether or not his values would be shared by others in a country so often disparaged in media and on his own campus.
But, after his ten days in Israel, Troy realized that Vanderbilt, the LGBT community, and Israel had a similar history of working to create an accepting environment for a diverse set of people to live safely. “At my school, the LGBT community has been strengthened in response to several struggles in our University’s history,” Troy said. “We have been able to form a tight knit and active community that has created change on campus, so that my peers and I feel safer and more accepted on campus today than in the past.”
“This understanding has helped me, in turn, to understand Zionism and the need for a Jewish state with a Jewish majority. This group of people has been persecuted throughout history, and having a state that was built in part to protect their people and in part to live a life according to their own Jewish values resonates with me in a deeper way than I could have imagined.”
Troy’s 10-day journey to Israel was with Boston-based organization The David Project, an Israel advocacy movement that builds connections between Jewish and non-Jewish students on campus.
After the trip, Troy returned to Vanderbilt and organized a LGBT Shabbat with the Israel group on campus. And his peers on the trip – 108 other Jewish and non-Jewish participants – returned to campuses across the country and engaged thousands of their peers in conversation and programing on Israel.
“We work with Israel advocates to engage their peers like Troy across the campus in conversation on Israel,” Phillip Brodsky, Executive Director of The David Project, said. “It is important that we are proactive in reaching beyond the Jewish community on any campus. We need to expand the Israel conversation to include Jewish and non-Jewish leaders,” Brodsky said.
In order to help expand the reach of Israel advocacy and respond to the growing anti- Israel movement on campus, The David Project is growing to 12 new schools starting next school year bringing the organization's campus presence up to 43 schools.
"With the growth of the BDS movement, we worry that more and more students will turn away from the Israel conversation on campus,” Brodsky said. “It is more important than ever to build relationships that span across campus communities.”
Over the past three school years The David Project has applied best practices of relationship building and inter-group relations to Israel advocacy. Through Relational Advocacy™, The David Project’s novel strategy of relationship building, the organization has reached thousands of non-Jewish campus leaders in conversations and programming on Israel.
“It is amazing to see Jewish and non-Jewish students sit together and learn from each other,” Brodsky said “it is important that we build relationships pro-actively to ensure that we are the ones teaching our peers outside of the Jewish community about Israel and to ensure that when the anti-Israel community comes to campus the Israel community has allies, like Troy, already in place.”
The David Project positively shapes campus opinion on Israel by educating, training, and empowering Jewish and non-Jewish college students to be thoughtful, strategic and persuasive advocates. This past year, The David Project was named one of North America’s top 50 innovative Jewish organizations in the tenth annual Slingshot Guide, marking the first time an Israel advocacy organization has been recognized by Slingshot. Visit www.davidproject.org for more information on The David Project.