I had the opportunity to criss-cross North America this year, invited to speak at annual conferences, galas, and other events held by American Jewish organizations. New York City, Palo Alto, Washington DC, Long Island, Connecticut and Chicago were among my recent travels. But it was in Toronto, at the JSpace Canada Biennial Conference, where I was disrupted while speaking, and greeted by an angry group of demonstrators upon departure.
It is by no means pleasant being called a ”stinking leftist” and a “kapo”. But I have been heckled by right wing Jews before, and given the current American political atmosphere, it is not unexpected. However, there was an event at which I had an experience that was particularly upsetting. It was at a symposium on anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism held in New York. There I heard a popular right-wing Jewish leader cite Meir Kahane as the example of a proud Jew. I countered his incitement with our progressive Zionist playbook… to a surprisingly positive response.
This is the unique role Ameinu plays in the American Jewish community; day in, day out.
We represent the voice of the majority of American Jews that isn’t always heard loudly enough in the organized Jewish community. And beyond just speaking out, we focus on “doing”:
- This summer we sponsored a study mission to Israel and Palestine. During the trip we engaged directly with political and social activists who address a range of issues. These included Jewish-Arab relations, peace and security, African asylum seekers, religious pluralism, cross-border cooperation, and the occupation. In our meeting with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh we discussed the central issues on the Israeli-Palestinian agenda.
Earlier this year, together with nine other progressive American Jewish organizations, we formed the Progressive Israel Network. Now we can weigh in with one voice on the significant challenges that face Israel and the US-Israel relationship. Equally important, we coordinate campaigns designed to mobilize the majority of American Jews who share our progressive values and goals— supporting the work of Israeli progressives and urging the US government to adopt policies that further Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Through The Third Narrative initiative, we continue to support and supply materials to campus and community activists fighting the increasing challenges of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. At this time our nuanced approach is more important than ever.
A central project for the coming months is launching the Hatikvah Progressive Israel Slate in order to participate in the World Zionist Congress elections in early 2020. We have brought together eleven organizations, several of which have never been involved in this type of endeavor, in order to make a serious impact in these elections. Please review our platform and explanation of the importance of these elections, and sign up to receive updates on the campaign.
You can see our organizational plate is full. But we truly need your support to carry out this agenda! We must go into 2020 with a running start, and your end of year contribution is critical to this effort.
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Thank you for your ongoing support of our progressive Zionist work. We couldn’t do it without you.