Partners for Progressive Israel (1919 – present)

progressiveisrael.org

Partners for Progressive Israel champions the wedding of Socialist Zionism with Liberal Zionism. Its founding principles are peace, social justice, civil and human rights, religious pluralism and political and economic sustainability.

Historical Context:

In 1946, graduates of Hashomer Hatzair in the United States established an organization called the Progressive Zionist League (PZL). Its aim was the creation of a political-public framework that would impact the American reality and influence the establishment of the Jewish state in the spirit of the values of Hashomer Hatzair. A year later, in 1947 graduates of Hashomer Hatzair established Progressive Israel Projects (PIP), which gave American Jews seeking to assist in the economic development of Hakibbutz Haartzi investment opportunities for in Israel. In 1954-5 the PZL and PIP merged to form Americans for Progressive Israel – Hashomer Hatzair (API-HH).

API participated in Zionist institutions, raised money for the kibbutz movement and organized community and cultural activities. It established a monthly journal Israel Horizons, which was distributed in thousands of copies to graduates and sympathizers of Hashomer Hatzair around the world. The journal was a voice for left-wing Zionists for 59 years until 2011.

In the 1960s API answered the need of young people and founded a youth organization, YAPI, which combined Zionism with radical values originating in the New Left. In 1968, following the remarkable growth of the movement YAPI changed its name to Jewish Liberation Project (JLP). They became central activists in the radical Zionist movement, which consolidated and won the sympathy of thousands of students. The explicit goals of the JLP were the development of Jewish identity and support for the State of Israel, while espousing universal humanist values, integrating into progressive social movements, struggling for democratization of the American Jewish establishment, and supporting the investment of more of the community’s resources in education.

In 1997 API merged with the Education Fund for Israeli Civil Rights and Peace, which was founded in the 1980s to support negotiations with the Palestinians and a two-state solution, and American Friends of Ratz, an organization seeking to promote the political agenda of the Israeli party Ratz’s in the United States. Together they formed Meretz USA, and in 2011 renamed it Partners for Progressive Israel.

In the early 2000s, Meretz USA collaborated with the Labor Zionist Alliance (today Ameinu), as well as college-aged members of Habonim Dror North America and Hashomer Hatzair, to create the Union of Progressive Zionists (UPZ), a college and university campus arm of the Progressive Zionist movement. By 2007, the UPZ had chapters at 60 universities and colleges across the United States. In 2009, UPZ members chose to affiliate with J Street and become J Street U.

Brief Summary:

Partners for Progressive Israel is the American voice of the Israeli left. It stands for ending the occupation, social justice and human rights. It partners with Israeli human and civil rights organizations, translates their voice to the American public and broadcasts their message. It promotes collaboration between Israelis and Americans who have a common vision for Israel.

Partner for Progressive Israel activists promote organized demonstrations, petitions and calls to action. The group is affiliated with the American Zionist Movement, World Union of Meretz (WUM), an international association of like-minded left-Zionist groups, the Jewish National Fund of America, and the Jewish Labor Committee. PPI participates in elections for, and sends delegates to, the World Zionist Congress, where they are part of the left-leaning WUM faction.

Membership/Chapters: Partners for Progressive Israel has supporters and partners in many places across the United States. It has board members in California, DC, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, South Carolina and more. Its national offices are in New York City.

Projects:

  • In 2011, Partners for Progressive Israel was the first US-based Zionist organization to call its constituents to refrain from purchasing products manufactured in illegal Israeli settlements. Continuing the campaign, in 2015, it launched Not with Our Money, a research project designed to uncover how American Jewish foundations and corporate funds are supporting the expansion of illegal settlements in Israel. The aim is to create a database allowing donors to discover whether the foundation of their choice supports the expansion of settlements in the occupied territories.
  • Our Family Unification Project examines and educates Americans on how Palestinians are unable to maintain family integrity due to Israeli laws and the Occupation.

Educational programs

  • The Theodore Bikel Fund for Peace and Social Justice grants scholarships to young activists who want to volunteer for a period of six weeks to a year with an Israeli or Palestinian Civil and Human Rights, Social and Environmental Justice, or Women and LGBTQ Rights Nonprofit organization.
  • Israel Study Tour: An annual study tour of Israel and the Occupied Territories through which participants  meet key policy makers, social activists, and other stakeholders;
  • Conversations with Israel and Palestine – a regular conference call program featuring prominent Israeli and Palestinian activists, journalists and stake holders. The conversations are recorded and add to PPI’s podcast.
  • A blog discussing current issues
  • Local events featuring Israeli peace and social activists;
  • Policy statements on current events.