Logo of StandWithUs
|Headquarters||Los Angeles, CA|
StandWithUs is a non-profit pro-Israel education and advocacy organization based in Los Angeles. StandWithUs describes itself as an international, non-profit organization that believes that education is the road to peace. StandWithUs has an annual budget of about 9 million (in 2014).
StandWithUs was founded in 2001 by Roz Rothstein, a family therapist in Los Angeles whose parents were Holocaust survivors. An article published in The Forward on 2 December 2011 explained that "during the height of the second intifada,” Rothstein "watched the news coming from Israel … with growing frustration. Feeling that Israel was not getting the backing it deserved in the United States, she and her husband, Jeremy, set up their own small group, with a stated mission of 'supporting people around the world who want to educate others about Israel.'"
The Rothsteins started StandWithUs to arrange a demonstration and secure a meeting with editors at the Los Angeles Times. Over the following decade, however, StandWithUs developed into a "major player," enjoying "close relations with Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and a constantly growing budget." It has an annual budget of over $9 million, (2014 990), most of which goes to fund student activities on U.S. campuses. The group is especially active in challenging the BDS ("boycott, divest and sanction") movement.
StandWithUs is based in Los Angeles, and has 18 chapters throughout the U.S., Europe, Canada and Israel. In 2009, nearly 15% of the group's budget went to the Israeli office, which every year trains 175 university students to be advocates for Israel.
The newest chapter of StandWithUs was opened in Rhode Island in 2015. In March 2016 they announced that there will soon be a chapter in Australia.
StandWithUs Canada opened in December 2012 in Toronto, with Meryle Kates as executive director. Although seed money was provided by the Los Angeles chapter, StandWithUs Canada is responsible for raising its own funds.
StandWithUs Israel has an active partnership with the Zionist Federation of Australia. Over 6,000 Australians have taken part in StandWithUs events, including a June 2010 conference in Jerusalem and an August 2010 speaking tour of Australia by Michelle Rojas-Tal.
Campaigns and activities
Caterpillar protests (2005)
Four Roman Catholic orders of nuns and the group Jewish Voice for Peace joined in 2005 to propose a resolution calling for an internal investigation of Caterpillar, whose bulldozers, they claimed, were used by Israel to destroy homes in the West Bank and Gaza. In response, StandWithUs members spoke out against the resolution at a Caterpillar shareholders meeting, while the organization urged its supporters to buy stock in Caterpillar and other firms that do business with Israel. StandWithUs and the other organizations opposed to the resolution expressed their concern that Israel was being unfairly singled out for blame in the ongoing regional conflict.
Ahmadinejad protests (2007)
When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke at Columbia University in New York in September 2007, StandWithUs organized protests at the site. Dani Klein, the campus director for StandWithUs, told the New York Times that the organization felt that the protest went "above and beyond the issues of free speech" and said that Columbia, by giving an egregious violator of human rights, Ahmadinejad, a platform, was "honoring him."
In collaboration with the Jerusalem Post, StandWithUs began publishing a monthly newspaper, Campus Post, in 2008, to be distributed on university campuses. The short-lived paper included articles by Jerusalem Post writers on the topics of Israeli news, society, and culture, while students and others in North America contribute articles about pro-Israel activism.
StandWithUs has helped members of Co-Ops around the U.S. to defeat attempts to institutionalize boycotts of Israeli products. For example, StandWithUs Northwest led the opposition to efforts to establish boycotts at four food co-ops across the Northwest.
Durban II protests (2009)
In response to the controversial Durban II conference in Geneva, Switzerland, in April 2009, StandWithUs organized protests and rallies around the world against the various conference speakers and the UN. At a few events, some protesters donned clown costumes "because it illustrated the 'absurdity' of having human-rights violators such as Libya, Cuba, and Iran heading a human-rights event".
The Emerson Fellowship
The organization trains U.S. and Canadian student leaders, known as Emerson Fellows, to "act as campus emissaries of the Jewish state." The program is funded by J. Steve and Rita Emerson. In both 2007 and 2008, 38 students were chosen and trained for the program each year. By 2012, when the program was in its sixth year, the number had risen to 50. When Ariel Pollock of Columbia University was chosen a fellow in 2007, she said she planned to screen the film Turn Left at the End of the World, about Moroccan and Indian immigrants to Israel, and to arrange debates between Columbia faculty and pro-Israel professors invited to campus by her. When Danny Rende was chosen a fellow in 2009, he planned to collaborate on programs that would "go beyond the conflict and focus on what Israel has to offer culturally."
Transit poster campaign
In May 2007, the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, a pro-Palestinian organization, paid for a poster campaign in the Washington, D.C. subway system. In response, StandWithUs arranged for their own poster campaign, with some posters showing Palestinian children with military gear. "Teaching children to hate will never lead to peace," one ad reads.
StandWithUs campaigned in October 2009 against the inaugural conference of J Street, a left-leaning Israel lobby group. StandWithUs argued that many of J Street's funders and advisers have "opposed Israel" or have ties with Arab governments that they regard as "consistently hostile to Israel". The campaign, which consisted of telephone calls and faxes, was not perceived to be effective in discouraging policymakers from attending, given the conference's greater-than-expected turnout. The attendees included many congressmen as well as National Security Advisor General James Jones.
Shagririm is a Hebrew word meaning "ambassadors". The program's stated goal is to bring together Israeli-Americans and their American-born children in the Southern California area in order to generate pro-Israel programs and initiatives. Founded in 2010 with 12 students from UCLA, USC, and CSU Northridge, it has since expanded to include 54 students from those institutions as well as Santa Monica College, Cal Poly Pomona, Chapman University, and UC Irvine. Brett Cohen, national program director of StandWithUs explained that while the organization is responsible for many of the same types of activities as StandWithUs Emerson Fellows, Shagririm is important to pro-Israel advocacy in the US because of the deeply personal connection that the involved Israeli-Americans have with the cause. Their deep connection and personal experience with the region, he explains, helps other non-Israeli American supporters to gain a more profound understanding of the situation in the region.
According to a report published in October 2009 by Inter Press Service, StandWithUs has received funds from a "web of funders who support organisations that have been accused of anti-Muslim propaganda and encouraging a militant Israeli and U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East." The organization countered by stating, "Radical Islam has impacted the Middle East greatly. All this stuff comes from a very fundamentalist religious position and looking at it does not make you right- or left-wing."
In response to a December 2011 article in The Forward, Rothstein wrote a letter to the editor criticizing the newspaper's attempt “to discredit us as 'right wing.'” She stated that "StandWithUs does not and has never advocated specific policies for Israel” and that its work is “not contingent on which parties are in power"; rather, she wrote, its goal “has been to counter the vicious anti-Israel, anti-Semitic propaganda campaign that was unleashed along with the intifada in September 2000" by helping "to educate the public about Israel and empower others to educate their communities." Rothstein stated that "Israel is the only modern state whose right to exist is still questioned. If you consider support for the existence of the Jewish state a right-wing position, then indeed we are right wing. Yet you repeatedly confused anti-Israel propaganda with 'reasonable criticism' of Israeli policies."
In response to an open letter in Billboard Magazine by the Creative Community for Peace (CCFP) titled “200 Hollywood Heavyweights Support Israel”, some media and activists asked whether Hollywood stars like Ziggy Marley, Seth Rogen and Sarah Silverman were aware that the “Creative Community for Peace” was “a sanitizing front for the right-wing, pro-settler organization StandWithUs, that has deep ties to the Israeli government”.
In January 2015, StandWithUs announced a possible partnership for a joint social media program with the National Information Directorate of the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office focused on Israel education. The partnership however, never took place and StandWithUs remains an independent non-profit organization.
- American Israel Public Affairs Committee
- Christians United for Israel
- Hasbara Fellowships
- The David Project
- AMCHA Initiative
- Israel On Campus Coalition
- Israel lobby in the United States
- Internal Revenue Service Form 990, "Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax", for "Israel Emergency Alliance", 2004, part V, retrieved from
- Guttman, Nathan. "StandWithUs Draws Line on Israel". The Jewish Daily Forward. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
- Hill, Joanne (20 December 2012). "Pro-Israel StandWithUs Comes to Canada". Jewish Tribune. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
- StandWithUs.org disclaimer page
- Watanabe, Teresa (13 April 2005). "Jews Target Caterpillar Shareholder Effort". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
- Knowlton, Brian (24 September 2007). "Tough questions and protests for Ahmadinejad in New York". New York Times. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
- Gold, Riva (16 October 2008). "Emerson Fellows defend Israel on campus". The Canadian Jewish News. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
- Semple, Kirk; Gersh Kuntzman (27 March 2012). "Food Co-op Rejects Effort to Boycott Israeli-Made Products". New York Times. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
- Karni, Annie (December 10, 2007). "Pro-Israel Group Puts Emissaries on Campuses". New York: New York Sun.
- StandWithUs (21 August 2012). "STANDWITHUS EMERSON FELLOWSHIP ENTERS ITS SIXTH YEAR WITH A RECORD NUMBER OF STUDENTS". Retrieved 5 May 2013.
- Jewish Tribune (23 December 2009). "York U student given fellowship to spread the word about Israel". Retrieved 5 May 2013.
- "Mideast Conflict Spawns D.C. Ad Battle". Washington, D.C.: CBS News. May 30, 2007.
- "Middle East conflict spawns advertising battle in Washington subways". International Herald Tribune. May 30, 2007.
- STANDWITHUS CONCERNED ABOUT J STREET (StandWithUs)
- US-MIDEAST: J Street Meet Draws Foreign Policy Heavyweights by Eli Clifton, Inter Press Service, IPS, Oct. 28, 2009.
- Schmidt, Lauren (10 May 2012). "Shagririm: Israeli-American Ambassadors, on Campus". The Jewish Press. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
- http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=48946 POLITICS-US: Pro-Israel Group's Money Trail Veers Hard Right (IPS, Oct. 21 2009)
- Elly Bulkin and Donna Nevel (2012-10-11). "Anti-Muslim bigotry is being funded by the Israel-right-or-wrong crowd". Mondoweiss.
- Max Blumenthal (2012-06-14). "The Sugar Mama of Anti-Muslim Hate". The Nation.
- Nathan Guttman (2011-11-27). "StandWithUs Draws Line on Israel". The Forward.
- Rothstein, Roz (7 December 2011). "What Do You Mean by Right Wing". Retrieved 5 May 2013.
- Debra Kamin: Stars’ Use of Social Media Embroils Them in Palestinian-Israeli Conflict. In: Chicago Tribune, 11 September 2014;
Debra Kamin: To counter BDS, it’s who you know (in Hollywood), Times of Israel, 24 August 2014;
Nathan Guttman: Hollywood Insiders Form Group To Counter Celebrity BDS Campaigns, Forward, 22 October 2013;
JTA: 300 Hollywood Stars Slam Hamas for Conflict With Israel, Forward, 14 September 2014;
Phan Nguyen (2013-10-24). "'Apolitical' arts organization combatting BDS is front for pro-settler group tied to Israeli Foreign Ministry". Mondoweiss.;
Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel (2014-09-03). "Did LA pro-Israel group conceal right-wing identity from Hollywood celebs and media?". Mondoweiss.
- "Israeli Government, StandWithUs Partner on New 'Social Media Ambassadors' Program".
- Maltz, Judy. "The Commander Behind the Pro-Israel Student Troops on U.S. Campuses". Haaretz.