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Creating a Home for Next Gen Liberal Jews Through The Third Narrative

josh1
By Ameinu Office

Creating a Home for Next Gen Liberal Jews Through The Third Narrative

Joshua Schwartz

Northwestern University, class of 2015

 

josh1

Dear friend,

As I know you’re interested in the work of The Third Narrative (TTN), I’d like to share my personal TTN story and the impact I know it can have on young progressive American students across the country.

Like many others in my generation, I experienced the 2014 Gaza war between Israel and Hamas as a traumatic watershed moment. Studying at Northwestern University, I remember my mother crying over the phone when we heard that Hamas had kidnapped and murdered three Israeli teens – Eyal, Gilad and Naftali. I was further shocked when I learned that Mohammed Abu Khdeir, a Palestinian teenager, had been burned alive by Israeli settlers. During those terrible days, each side unleashed sadness, pain and rage on the other. I asked myself, Where do I fit into all of this? What should my generation do? What is our role?

I was a college student who passionately loved Israel, and considered peace with the Palestinians to be the only way to justly resolve the conflict and ensure Israeli security. I knew I needed to find a political home that would enable me to live out my values, but I didn’t yet know that it would be Ameinu and its initiative The Third Narrative.

But before discovering Ameinu, I would face a major challenge on campus.

Students at Northwestern assembled a coalition- NUDivest- demanding that the university divest from companies profiting from the occupation of the Palestinian Territories. While clearly these companies helped sustain Israel’s military control, I rejected NUDivest and its support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. BDS, like the Israeli right and settler movement, refuses to distinguish between Israel and the Occupied Territories and sees the conflict as a simplistic choice between good and evil.

On campus, I advocated that pro-Israel and pro-Palestine activism are not mutually exclusive, and that the only way to fight BDS is to also fight the occupation and support justice for Palestinians. While I sought nuance and compassion, both sides rejected this approach. The Jewish coalition refused to include opposition to occupation in its written communications, and NUDivest pushed its resolution through the student government, giving BDS a victory.

When I graduated a few months later, I didn’t know where to turn.

It was then that I discovered Ameinu and The Third Narrative — a home where I could strengthen the American Jewish community by ensuring peace, justice and the two-state solution remained a part of its advocacy agenda. At Ameinu and TTN, I was given a chance to organize a national network of academics focusing on Israel, Palestine and academic freedom; develop a curriculum for student-led learning on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and progressive Zionism; and engage students and Hillel professionals on numerous campuses to include the nuance that was missing from the BDS debate at Northwestern.

Through my experiences with Ameinu, I was inspired to go to Israel to study Arabic and spend a year working to promote shared society for Jews and Palestinians in Jerusalem.

Upon my return to the United States, Ameinu continued to nurture my progressive Zionist leadership, inviting me to join the Board of Directors. I am honored and excited to give back. While many young liberal American Jews reject all Jewish communal organizations as contrary to their progressive values, I believe we must find a place to re-engage with the institutions that provided our foundational connection to Judaism and Israel. For me, Ameinu is that place.

Through Ameinu, I am now working to activate my generation. I’m writing today to ask you to support Ameinu and help us launch The Third Narrative on Campus. This initiative will organize peer education programs on progressive Zionism, bring Israeli social justice and peace advocates to campus, and offer progressive volunteer programs with Israeli counterparts to build a cohort of well-informed young Jewish leaders who are passionately committed to American Jewish life and Israel.

We are seeking to raise $25,000 before the end of the year in order to pilot The Third Narrative on Campus at five schools starting in January 2018. This is just the beginning.

I know how Ameinu and The Third Narrative can change the life of a young progressive American Jew — and the impact it can have on their involvement with Israel and the Jewish community. With your help, we can engage many more young progressive American Jews and make a profound difference in the next generation of Jewish leadership. Please join us today with a gift of $36, $50, $100, $500, or whatever you can afford.Â

Donations can be made online through TTN.

Thank you for your support of the next generation of Jewish leaders.

Joshua Schwartz

Northwestern University, Class of 2015

Ameinu Board of Directors

P.S. If you would like to support this initiative by check, please make it out to Ameinu, a 501c3 tax exempt organization, and send it to Ameinu, 25 Broadway, New York, NY  10004.  Note TTN on Campus on the memo line.

josh2

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