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Adelson-backed college activist group to double presence to 80 campuses

Maccabee Task Force, which works to counter BDS movement at universities, will also begin operating in Canada for first time

Illustrative: Students at a "Hebrew Liberation Week" event at Columbia University, initiated in 2017  (Maccabee Task Force)
Illustrative: Students at a "Hebrew Liberation Week" event at Columbia University, initiated in 2017 (Maccabee Task Force)

WASHINGTON — The Maccabee Task Force, the initiative funded by billionaire philanthropist Sheldon Adelson targeting the campus BDS movement, will double its presence to 80 campuses and for the first time will operate in Canada.

In place since 2016, the task force works with pro-Israel students on programs countering activities of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel. Last year it funded programs on 40 campuses, chosen because of the intensity of BDS activity on the campus.

The task force sends representatives to campuses and solicits ideas from pro-Israel students and groups on campus, and then funds those that it deems viable. Its most successful program has been to recruit influencers on campus – including student leaders who might already favor BDS – and send them to Israel on fact-finding tours.

In an interview Wednesday, David Brog, who directs the task force, predicted that 70-75 of the 80 campuses Maccabee task force will assist this year will include Israel trips. For the first time, the task force will operate on four or five campuses in Canada, Brog said.

Sheldon Adelson with his wife Miriam at the ceremony for a new Faculty of Medicine at Ariel University in the West Bank, on August 19, 2018. (Ben Dori/Flash90)

Maccabee Task Force does not publish its expenditures, but a spokesman said that it spends in the low six figures per campus, suggesting that it will spend at least $8-10 million this coming year.

Adelson, a casino magnate, and his wife, Miriam, fund a broad array of pro-Israel and medical causes and are also leading donors to Republican political candidates.

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