Ir Amim – Ameinu: Modeling American-Israeli Partnership
In the last several weeks, multiple coalescing events have raised hard questions about the current state of Diaspora-Israeli Jewish relations: the breakdown of the Kotel deal, promotion of the conversion bill, and the Israeli government’s support of a dangerously anti-Semitic campaign in Hungary against philanthropist George Soros – as punishment for his funding of Israeli NGOs – have all transpired in breathtaking succession. Hard questions about who defines what it means to be a Jew and how non-Orthodox denominations are respected in Israel. About democracy and the shrinking space for Israeli civil society. About Israel’s moral responsibility for responding to attacks on Jews outside of Israel. About where we stand together and where we don’t. About the Occupation.
This is a tense moment – and one that also offers a vital opening for new alliances between Jews everywhere who understand that our yearning for tikkun olam necessarily involves an end to Occupation. Those of us who envision a democratic Israel with its inhabitants living side by side with Palestinians in a sovereign state of their own need to be talking to one another – and more than that, to be working together.
That’s why we are so proud to share this newsletter, produced by our partners at Ameinu – a special edition marking the 50th year since the annexation of East Jerusalem and devoted exclusively to the work of Ir Amim.
In a phrase that delights us and one we hope you will adopt, Ameinu calls Ir Amim its “Israeli partner on the ground” here in Israel.
Our partnership with Ameinu exemplifies the work we all need to be doing to pool and leverage our respective resources in order to amplify our work, reach new audiences, and cultivate new constituencies for advancing a just, fair political resolution on Jerusalem and the Conflict as a whole. Beyond generously devoting their newsletter to our work, our allies at Ameinu followed that up with a conference call that engaged board members and other supporters in a conversation about Jerusalem. Last week, one of those participants was in Jerusalem leading a student group and joined us for a private tour of East Jerusalem, after which he offered to host us for a speaking engagement at his college in California.
The cycle of engagement continues to spin out into new directions, taking us to new places to involve new people in our work. We can look at the events of the last several weeks and call this the farthest apart Jews in Israel and the Diaspora have ever been. Or we can leverage this moment to come together in promoting our common values and advancing peace and justice – to act on that quietly-observed adage now gaining increasing volume: one can support Israel while supporting an end to the Occupation.
We thank our valued partner Ameinu for their commitment to Jerusalem and to Ir Amim. We are proud to be their partner on the ground and invite you to get in touch to talk about how we can cooperate with your organization in promoting our joint vision of a more viable, equitable Jerusalem both now and toward a political resolution of the Conflict.
Betty Herschman Director of International Relations & Advocacy
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Ameinu, Hebrew for “Our People,” is a national, multi-generational community of progressive Jews in North America. Recognizing the unbreakable bond between the Jewish people and Israel, as well as the commitment to make our own society better, we mobilize those Jews who seek opportunities to foster social and economic justice both in Israel and in North America. As Zionists, we understand that a secure peace between Israel and its neighbors is essential to the survival of a democratic Jewish state. With this in mind, we build support within the North American Jewish community for a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.