Your Daily Phil: Maccabee Task Force looks to screen 10/7 footage on college campuses

Good Wednesday morning.

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on a joint project by the Jewish National Fund-USA and Keren Kayemet Le’Israel-JNF to help rebuild southern Israeli towns, and feature an opinion piece by Phil de Toledo about the new role of leaders and groups that visit Israel. Also in this newsletter: Gary Rosenblatt, Sophia Herschman andKeren Flash. We’ll start with efforts by Maccabee Task Force to screen footage of the Oct. 7 atrocities on dozens of college campuses.

Maccabee Task Force is working to screen the raw footage of Hamas’ atrocities at a small number of universities in the coming weeks and more schools later on, potentially dozens, in an effort to combat attempts to deny or minimize the Oct. 7 massacres, its director, David Brog, told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

“We decided that it’s something we needed to do,” Brog said. “Of course, we wouldn’t force anyone to screen it. We wouldn’t force anyone to attend. Everyone has to make up their own minds. But I think the truth of these atrocities has to be shared in the face of so many lies about what happened.”

On Monday, Harvard became the first university to host a screening of the footage, which was open to students, faculty, administrative employees and community members affiliated with the university. At the screening, a spokesperson for Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan, who helped organize the event, said his office was working to organize similar screenings at other Ivy League schools. Brog said his organization has reached out to the 75 campuses where it operates to see which would be interested in holding a screening.

“We’re in the early stages. So we have a bunch of campuses, in the 8-10 range, that have said that this is something that they’re going to try to host in the next few months or so,” Ben Sweetwood, MTF’s national field director, told eJP. “And then we have a couple campuses that are very serious about moving forward soon… within the next month,” he said.

Brog said that despite the emotional and psychic toll that viewing the footage takes, his organization believed it was critical to screen the video in order to combat efforts to deny the atrocities. He compared it to the decision by then-Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe Dwight Eisenhower ordering U.S. soldiers and German civilians to see Nazi death camps at the end of World War II.

“Eisenhower made the decision to make sure the soldiers saw the death camps. The soldiers were the same age [as these students] to witness a very difficult thing in life, to witness that evil exists and to internalize it,” Brog said. “So as ugly as it is, I’m afraid that ugliness is now part of our reality.”

Read the full report here.


Joining forces after two decades, JNF-USA and KKL-JNF look to rebuild shattered Gaza border towns

Zeev Barkan/Flickr

The $50 million joint project of the Jewish National Fund-USA and Keren Kayemet Le’Israel to rebuild the Gaza border communities destroyed on Oct. 7 — unveiled on Sunday at JNF-USA’s annual conference — is just “the tip of the iceberg,” a JNF spokesperson told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen. The project, called “Building Together,” will go toward rehabilitation of the Gaza border communities devastated by Hamas’ attacks, JNF said. The collaboration also portends a renewed cooperative relationship between the two organizations after almost two decades of separation.

Together again: The two groups have maintained strained ties over the years over a variety of disputes, some ideological and some over management practices. This summer, the two agreed in principle to work together again, and at last week’s conference, they signed a memorandum of understanding about their respective roles in the joint initiative. Each organization is expected to contribute an initial $25 million toward the project. The nonbinding MOU will now be sent to each organization’s boards for consideration and ratification.

Egos aside: “We have cried together. We have mourned together. And now, we must rebuild together. The challenges before us are great, yet we are greater,” JNF-USA’s CEO, Russell Robinson, said in a statement. “This moment requires all organizations to put aside any perceptions of ‘logo ego’ and unite around our shared mission. Together, we will make the communities of Israel’s Western Negev the most desirable places to live anywhere in the country. And we are doing it driven by our historic vision for the land and people of Israel and Jewish people everywhere.”

Read the full report here.


‘Inside the Newsroom’ with ADL chief Jonathan Greenblatt

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt spoke with Josh Kraushaar, editor-in-chief of eJewishPhilanthropy’s sister publication Jewish Insider as part of its “Inside the Newsroom” series, discussing rising antisemitism and how to most effectively combat it, his recent conversation with Elon Musk and his thoughts on whether Diversity Equity and Inclusion programs are systemically antisemitic.

On Musk missteps: “I will not be a part of this whole cancel culture phenomenon. I won’t cancel culture because they get it wrong, and by the way I think cancel culture is not just anti-democratic, it’s anti-Jewish. I mean the Jewish people, our whole tradition is based on discourse, it’s based on debate — I mean the Talmud itself is predicated on this notion of commentary… so we try to live by this ethos — which I’ve talked about publicly — not cancel culture but counsel culture. If someone gets it wrong, we should try to help them get it right… So was it problematic when Elon Musk replied to this random user spreading an antisemitic conspiracy? Yes it was. And so I called him out, and then guess what? He called me up.”

DEI dilemma: “We live in an incredibly heterogeneous country, maybe the most diverse country on the planet Earth, right, a multitude of religions, a multitude of ethnicities, a multitude of identities and to be competitive and to be successful in this heterogeneous world I think our young people, all of us, really need to know how to navigate it effectively,” Greenblatt said. “However, if you are teaching Diversity Equity and Inclusion and that involves the exclusion of Jews you are doing it wrong. If you think diversity equity and inclusion, and that involves the… sanitizing the extermination of Israelis you are doing it wrong. And so I do think that DEI needs to be reformed dramatically to make sure that it is actually delivering on its promise.”

Watch clips from Kraushaar’s interview with Greenblatt here.


Birthright Israel’s important role in the aftermath of the war

Participants take part in a Birthright Israel trip. (Sarah Kornbluh)

“A few weeks ago, I participated in a two-day solidarity mission to Israel with about a dozen international lay leaders of Birthright Israel,” writes board chair Phil de Toledo in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

A nightmare made real: “Like many, I had been glued to the daily news reports of what was happening in Israel since Oct. 7, but I did not anticipate how much more powerful, meaningful and emotional it would be to see the devastation firsthand and to hear the stories face to face from those who were so directly and deeply impacted. It was so important to the people we met with that they share their experiences and that we, in turn, share what we learned there as broadly as possible. They asked us to bear witness to the atrocities and the ongoing trauma, and I need to honor those requests by telling you what I saw and heard.”

Looking ahead: “Resuming Birthright trips will play a critical role in the healing process in Israel and abroad, so we need to do the work now to be prepared to send as many young adults to Israel as possible when it is safe to do so. For Israel, the resumption of trips will mean thousands of young adults walking around throughout the country and showing their solidarity with, and their love for, the Jewish homeland. And for the young adults who are now experiencing antisemitism, many for the first time in their lives, it will be so important for them to travel together to Israel and reconnect with their Judaism, the Jewish community and their homeland. It is also important that our young adults hear firsthand some of the stories that I did, and then come back home and fulfill the same promise that I am fulfilling right now.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Getting Away With Antisemitism: In The Atlantic, Yair Rosenberg writes about the tactics public figures from Hollywood to Islamic Republic of Iran use to fly their antisemitism high with more or less impunity. “I sometimes joke that if I had fewer scruples, I wouldn’t report on anti-Jewish prejudice; I’d contract myself out to the more numerous and better-resourced bigots, and help them get away with it. Because in more than a decade covering anti-Semitism, I have become a reluctant expert in all the ways that anti-Jewish activists obfuscate their hate. People must learn to recognize and reject these tactics, because too many communities have developed ways to excuse or otherwise ignore anti-Semitism. Today, such prejudice is growing in high and low places because powerful people around the world are running the same playbook to launder their hate into the public sphere… Every community has biases — toward the rich and powerful, toward ideological allies — that lead it to excuse bad behavior it would otherwise repudiate. But such excuses for prejudice work only because we allow them to. Covert anti-Semitism tends to turn into overt anti-Semitism. Until we start seriously confronting the former, we can expect more of the latter.” [TheAtlantic]

A Self-Inflicted Wound: In his Substack column “Between the Lines,” veteran journalist Gary Rosenblatt writes that the new documentary “Israelism” puts the failures of Israel education in the Jewish community on display for all to see. “I watched the slick, 84-minute film last week – few critics have seen it – and it is, indeed, as deeply accusatory of Israel as it is unfailingly sympathetic to Palestinians. But I think the far more effective response would be to call out the film’s distorted and biased views of the Israel-Palestinian conflict rather than try to shut it down, leading to accusations of violating academic freedom and free speech. Sadly, I suspect the efforts to prevent ‘Israelism’ from continuing to be shown on campuses around the country are fueled by a fear in our community that many Jewish students who view the film lack the knowledge and confidence to counter its propaganda and may be swayed by its message… In the film, Simone Zimmerman, who grew up a fervent Zionist, says, ‘I’m the best the Jewish community has to offer, and I didn’t know what the occupation was.’ Her comment haunts me because she was a kind of poster girl for Israel advocates and now espouses a position that would bring about the end of the Jewish state. Are we prepared to respond effectively to ‘Israelism,’ which is guilty of offering the same kind of narrow, one-sided approach it accuses pro-Israel activists of putting forward?” [BetweentheLines]

Around the Web

The presidents of Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology testified in Congress yesterday about antisemitism on campus, telling lawmakers, among other things, that calls for the genocide of Jews were not necessarily in violation of their schools’ codes of conduct…

Ron Hassner, a political science professor at the University of California, Berkeley, commissioned a poll of 250 college students, finding that many of those who support chanting “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” do not know which bodies of water it’s referring to…

More than a quarter of new referrals to the British Jewish mental health nonprofit Jami UK have cited the Israel-Hamas war and rising antisemitism as taking a psychological toll on them…

From Teaneck, N.J., to Los Angeles, Muslim and Jewish women with personal connections to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are working through their own complicated feelings to continue their efforts to facilitate dialogue and strengthen interfaith connections during the Hamas-Israel war…

The Cleveland Jewish News spotlighted a fundraising event, Sophiepalooza, that was held in Brooklyn in October to benefit patients with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome at the Cleveland Clinic. The event was inspired by and in honor of Sophia Herschman, who died of the disease, which affects connective tissues, in May at 26…

Billionaire WhatsApp founder and philanthropist Jan Koum has reportedly donated another $5 million to the super PAC behind Nikki Haley, doubling his support for the Republican presidential candidate…

The Canadian city of ??Moncton will include a menorah in its holiday display outside city hall, following an outcry over a city council vote to ban the symbol while allowing a nativity scene…

Apollo Global Management CEO Marc Rowan, who’s been making waves for his criticism of the University of Pennsylvania‘s response to antisemitism on campus, told Bloomberg Television that he is “disappointed” in the field of presidential candidates and doesn’t have a favorite…

The Joseph Gringlas KAVOD SHEF National Fund is providing $40,000 in matching funds to Jewish Family Services of Western New York toward efforts to assist local Holocaust survivors…

Israeli author Etgar Keret penned a short story set in the aftermath of the Oct. 7 Hamas massacres…

George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, which is now led by his son, Alex, pledged $50 million toward initiatives that increase civic engagement among women and young people over the next three years…

Inside Philanthropy compiled a list of the 50 most powerful women in American philanthropy, which includes Stacy Schusterman, Susan Pritzker and Susan Dell

The Wall Street Journal profiled Israeli peace activists in the wake of the Oct. 7 attacks, some of whom said they were struggling to maintain their beliefs in light of the atrocities, while others said they haven’t changed…

Pic of the Day

Jewish Cleveland/Facebook

Keren Flash, a survivor of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on the Kfar Aza kibbutz in Israel, shares her story at the Jewish Federation of Cleveland’s Women IN Philanthropy MaIN Event at the Mandel Jewish Community Center in Cleveland on Nov. 29.


Arturo Holmes/Getty Images

Founder of Craigslist, Craig Newmark

Moshe Hochenberg… Former member of the National Assembly of Quebec for 20 years, Lawrence S. Bergman… Renowned artist whose sculpture, photography, neon and video works appear in museums worldwide, Bruce Nauman… Israeli-born art collector and producer of over 130 full-length films, Arnon Milchan… Founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure (named after her late sister), she also served as U.S. ambassador to Hungary and chief of protocol of the U.S., Nancy Goodman Brinker… Senior U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Ohio, he serves as a trustee of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, Judge Dan Aaron Polster… Cell and molecular biologist, he is the director of research and professor at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, David L. Spector… Film and television actress, Gina Hecht… Faculty member at Harvard Law School since 1981, she served as dean of Harvard Law School until 2017, Martha Minow… Author of a bestselling novel, Arthur Sulzberger Golden… SVP and general counsel at United Airlines, Robert S. Rivkin… Former EVP and COO of the Inter-American Development Bank, Julie T. Katzman… Emmy Award-winning producer, writer, director, actor and comedian, Judd Apatow… Israel’s minister of education, he was a fighter pilot for the IDF and then a civilian pilot for El Al before entering politics, Yoav Kisch… Professor of economics at the University of Chicago, he previously served as the chief economist for President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, Michael Greenstone… Professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, he is a son and grandson of rabbis, Julian E. Zelizer… Senior director of Milltown Partners, Amir Mizroch… Managing director in the NYC office of PR firm BerlinRosen, Dan Levitan… Editor-in-chief at The Air Current, Jon Ostrower… Venture capitalist in Israel, Ilan Regenbaum… Licensed community association manager in South Florida, Beth Argaman… Assistant professor in international relations and global politics at the American University of Rome, Andrea Dessì… Joe Blumenthal…