The Maccabee Task Force

A pre-pandemic gathering of some Task Force members.

While university campuses across the world remain fairly empty these days due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that has not stopped acts of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiments from permeating the internet.

There are many organizations working tirelessly to respond to these actions, including Hillel Montreal. But The Suburban has connected with a body called The Maccabee Task Force (MTF), which was created in the United States in 2015 by Sheldon and Miriam Adelson of Las Vegas. They recognized that the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel and the intended delegitimization of the Jewish State on campus was a growing threat to which the pro-Israel community had not devoted sufficient time, effort or resources.

“They were determined to see us do better,” said MTF Executive Director David Brog. “Their bottomless generosity has enabled us to level the playing field.”

The MTF states that the large progressive campus community is being inundated with the anti-Israel narrative -- from students, professors and the media -- and they're increasingly accepting this as the truth and starting to believe that their progressive values demand that they shun Israel. “This is dangerous,” states Brog. “If we don't work hard to stop this today, we will likely see one of our two political parties -- the Democrats -- turn increasingly hostile towards Israel in the years to come.

“We believe the BDS movement is at the forefront of this troubling trend. We maintain that BDS is an anti-Semitic movement that crosses the line from legitimate criticism of Israel into the dangerous demonization of Israel and its supporters. We are determined to help students combat this hate by bringing them the strategies and resources they need to tell the truth about Israel. These attacks on Israel and its supporters won't be going away any time soon.”

MTF does not work with chapters. Rather, it partners with the existing pro-Israel infrastructure on campuses (Hillel, Chabad and the pro-Israel student groups). They currently bring strategies and funding to pay for them on 100 campuses in North America and 12 in Europe and beyond. The average investment is over six figures -- which is multiples higher than the pro-Israel budgets that were available to these campuses prior to MTF.

“We don't put our name on anything we fund,” said Brog, when asked to elaborate on any Montreal projects. “We let our local partners take the credit. After all, they are the ones on the front lines doing the hard work. So we are probably the largest pro-Israel organization you've never heard of. “

As for how strategies have shifted during the pandemic, Brog said work has proceeded quite effectively online. “In particular,” he says, “our Israel advocacy training has shifted online and even grown. Other activities - such as our Israel trips - simply can't be replicated online. Our biggest challenge now is adapting to this online environment and maintaining the web of contacts and alliances we developed back when in-person activities were possible. These relationships tend to dissipate over time if we don't proactively invest in them. And relationships are fundamental to shifting attitudes towards Israel.”

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