The latest book on the Amazon best seller list is a new release by David Brog entitled, “Reclaiming Israel’s History: Roots, Rights, and the Struggle for Peace.” The former executive director of Christians United for Israel, Brog now serves at the helm of a new group called the ‘Maccabee Task Force’ which defends Israel and combats BDS activities on college campuses. David Brog spoke with Breaking Israel News about the Maccabee Task Force and his new book “Reclaiming Israel’s History”.
There are so many books on the Israeli-Arab conflict, why do we need a new one?
In my years at CUFI and now with the Maccabee Task Force, I spent many years teaching students who grew up pro-Israel but then arrived at college and became confused. They were confronted by so much anti-Israel activism they became conflicted and burdened. I would tell them about Israel’s history and its struggles and could see that it made a difference and lifted their burden. But then the students would ask me, is there any one book that contains all this information and I never had just one book I could give them. I could recommend a list of books or a homework assignment, but there was not just one book that concisely provided the truth about Israel.
So you wrote “Reclaiming Israel’s History” for college students?
I wrote it for the students and for everyone interested in advocating for Israel and learning the truth about Israel. I would say that the book is less geared for those who have an academic interest but for those who have a current-events interest in Israel, both Jewish and Christian. There are 5,000 college campuses in America and 50 that we have identified as having a bad BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) problem. CUFI on Campus has a presence on 300 campuses which is incredible, but there are still 5,000 campuses all across America. The idea that there are millions of Christians out there eager to advocate for Israel is simply not true. There are millions of Christians who are predisposed to support Israel, but it’s a heck of a lot of work to educate them to become advocates.
In the introduction, you write that “Israel has committed sins both small and large.” Would you say your book presents one side of the argument or is unbiased?
My goal is not to prove to the pro-Israel community that I am the most right-wing guy out there, but to grow the pro-Israel base. The one sentence I always tell students, that resonates more than anything, is that ‘Israel is not perfect.’ College students are skeptical when one side says ‘we are all light and the other side is all darkness.’ I always say that Israel isn’t perfect and Palestinians aren’t all bad. However, that doesn’t mean that both sides are equally to blame. I make the case that there are historical patterns that demonstrate that Israel is not nearly at fault as the Palestinians because their leaders rejected Israel’s peace offerings numerous times. I outline all this in my final chapter “The Five No’s” about how Israel offered peace five times which were all rejected by the Palestinian leadership.
Tell me about your work with the Maccabee Task Force.
The Maccabee Task Force was created in 2015 to combat the disturbing spread of anti-Semitism on America’s college campuses. We started on six California campuses with bad BDS challenges and met with the stakeholders on those campuses, students, Jewish professionals and campus rabbis. We sat together and listened to them. We funded their ideas and then we took no credit for it. We don’t send out press releases or even put our name on our events. We let the students take all the credit. This academic year, we grew the Maccabee Task Force carefully to twenty campuses, ten on the west coast, ten on the east coast and we are going to grow it next year and keep growing it until we are on all fifty campuses with the biggest BDS challenges. We are not a fly-by-night organization doing one-time events, we are there on our campuses for the long term in order to change the climate on the campus.
Where do you see your greatest success in working with college students?
Whenever we bring a trip to Israel we will bring students who are already pro-Israel along with fifteen to twenty campus leaders and influencers from outside the pro-Israel community. Israel’s advocates on campus are not doing as good enough a job as Israel’s opponents, who are very good at coalition building. The pro-Israel students are busy studying and not spending enough time building coalitions with other student groups. One way to counteract that is by getting the students on a bus and allowing them to spend time and get to know each other. They then return to campus interested in getting involved in the pro-Israel community and in this way we are very quickly making up for years of neglect.
With all the BDS activities and the hostility towards Israel on campus, are you at all optimistic and do you have reason to be hopeful for what is happening on campus?
I am hopeful because when you bring the truth to campus with enough firepower, it works! We brought black South African students who were all active in the BDS movement and who accused Israel of being an apartheid state and educated them about the truth about Israel. They became outraged when they finally learned the truth and these South Africans became staunch Israel supporters. The truth converted them to become pro-Israel and when we brought them to American campuses, they were able to convert African American students to become pro-Israel. I am hopeful because I know that the truth is compelling and the truth works.
College campuses are the front lines in the fight against BDS but so many students are not prepared. How do you fortify ill-equipped students to defend Israel on campus?
The best way is to reinforce students with the justice of their cause. J Street is causing a lot of damage by telling students that Israel has so much to apologize for and that Jewish students need to apologize for Israel. The best thing to do is teach the students to say that is all baloney and is not true! Be proud of Israel and tell the truth! We have to give them a pep-talk and we have to give them the best materials that are available so they can share with other students. Our opponents lie all the time and that’s why truth is so powerful when you get it out there.
Interested in learning the truth about Israel? Order a copy of David Brog’s new book, “Reclaiming Israel’s History: Roots, Rights, and the Struggle for Peace”