Joshua Nass spent his college years at Brandeis educating others — particularly Israel’s detractors. Educated at Ramaz, raised in New Rochelle and now living on the Upper East Side, in 2013 Nass founded Voices of Conservative Youth. “We boast about 5,000 activists,” he says, and claims “around a dozen college chapters.” He attracted financial support from Sheldon Adelson, a leading figure in U.S. conservative circles, and quickly became a pundit for Fox Business and other news stations to rebut those, including the American Studies Association, promoting boycotts of Israel and attempting to link Israel to apartheid.
Now that he’s graduated, Nass will be working full-time with Voices and launching a public relations firm. “We’re trying to alleviate the negative perception that young people have of the Republican Party.”
Not everyone who knew him as a day school student was aware of his sudden prominence as an Israel advocate. One day earlier this year, says Nass, “I received a message from someone I hadn’t spoken to since the sixth grade. He asked, ‘When did you start working for the ‘Other Side?’ I had no idea what he was talking about.” Then many similar messages poured in, leading him to discover that a group called ApartheidWeek.org had posted an online video that doctored one of his appearances on Fox Business to make it appear as if Nass were nodding in approval to an anti-Israel message, along with fierce Israel critics like Roger Waters and Stephen Hawking.
Says Nass, “In reality, I am [a] vocal opponent of apartheid-talk and BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions].” Nass sprang into action, contacting lawyers, working social media, and offering $5,000 to a mutually agreed charity if the video’s makers would identify themselves and debate him about whether Israel is, in fact, an apartheid state. Within days, the offensive video was re-edited to Nass’ satisfaction. “They buckled.”
Nass hopes his story “should be encouraging” for students on other campuses. “You can stand up to hatred and tactics of deception and be successful. No amount of intimidation will silence me or my support of Israel.”
Music in his soul: Nass competed on high school and college tennis teams, played classical violin and electric guitar in school bands, and enjoys everything from Yaakov Shwekey and Avrum Fried to Eric Clapton.