Ameinu (1905 – present)

ameinu.net

Preserving Israel as a democratic Jewish state and promoting a negotiated two-state solution are central to the mission of Ameinu, formerly known as Labor Zionist Alliance (LZA.) The group has been involved for decades in educational initiatives and advocacy on these issues. Its primary peace-oriented educational program is the Third Narrative, which develops and disseminates resources that expose the “greys,” neither reflexively attacking nor reflexively justifying Israeli policies and actions. Over the years, peace-related educational activities have also included widely distributed policy statements, online petitions, missions to Israel, and speaking tours by Israeli peace movement leaders.

Based in New York, Ameinu works in the US, Canada and Israel in support of multiple progressive causes. Its president, Kenneth Bob, who also sits on the board of J Street, works to moderate the positions of the mainstream Jewish community through participation in a broad spectrum of national and international organizations. The group also partners with social justice organizations within Israel and sponsors youth leadership through Habonim Dror.

Ameinu (“Our People”) traces its roots to Po’alei Zion (“Workers of Zion”), a Marxist Zionist Jewish movement founded in various cities of Eastern Europe and Russia after the Bundist movement rejected Zionism in 1901. Po’alei Zion fused Socialism with the Zionist belief that Jews of the Diaspora needed their own homeland. Po’alei Zion promoted the concept that the Jewish proletariat of Palestine would spearhead the liberation of all Jews. The US and Canadian affiliates of Po’alei Zion were founded in 1905.

In 1971, the North American affiliate of Po’alei Zion joined with the American Habonim (“The Builders”) Association and Farband (“Jewish National Workers Alliance”) to LZA.

The LZA was involved in Middle East peace efforts prior to Oslo. In 1988, then president Menachem Rosensaft participated in a meeting with Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman Yasser Arafat in Stockholm, Sweden. Fifteen years prior to that, their youth affiliate Habonim Dror wrote to then Prime Minister Golda Meir protesting settlement activity over the Green Line.

LZA changed its name to Ameinu in 2004 with the tag line: “Liberal Values, Progressive Israel.” That same year, Ameinu, together with Habonim Dror, Meretz USA (now PPI), and Hashomer Hatzair founded the Union of Progressive Zionists, a campus Middle East peace organization that in 2009 became J Street U, the campus arm of J Street.

Ameinu works with Israeli partners on critical economic and social justice issues in Israel. Such organizational partners include the Negev Institute for Strategies of Peace and Development (NISPED), Dror Israel Movement, BINA Center for Jewish Identity and Hebrew Culture and YEDID, The Association for Community Empowerment. Ameinu also operates the Kibbutz Program Center and provides support for Habonim Dror (“The Builders of Freedom”) and its seven summer youth camps.

The group plays an important role in national and international Jewish and Zionist organizations providing a voice of moderation. It is the American affiliate of the World Labor Zionist Movement (WLZM) and through it maintains a relationship with the Israel Labor Party; WLZM in Australia and South Africa have both adopted the Ameinu name. Kenneth Bob, the President of Ameinu, is a member of the World Zionist Executive Board and the Jewish Agency Board of Governors.

In the US, Ameinu is a member of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, American Zionist Movement, Inter-Agency Task Force on Israeli Arab Issues, the World Jewish Congress, the Jewish National Fund and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).