Pro-Israel, pro-peace movement adding education arm to sponsor student organizing on college campuses
WASHINGTON — On its one-year anniversary, J Street, the political arm of the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement, announced today that it will be launching a campus outreach program in the fall. The J Street family of organizations, which already includes a 501(c)(4) lobby and a legally independent political action committee, JStreetPAC, will add a charitable arm later this month that will sponsor campus organizing and other educational programming.
“For too long, college campuses have been the scenes of shouting matches rather than constructive and healthy dialogue about what best serves Israel’s and America’s interests,” said J Street Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami. “Faced with the polarization on campus over Israel, students are tuning out and disconnecting from Israel and the Jewish community. J Street’s campus program will provide space for students who support Israel but still want to debate openly and freely the hard questions surrounding the conflict.”
In its first year, J Street has attracted over 105,000 online supporters, while its legally independent PAC raised more than $578,000 in contributions for 41 endorsed candidates this past cycle.
The new J Street educational arm will build on and expand the program started by the Union of Progressive Zionists (UPZ), a network of student activists across the country. The student group will promote pro-Israel advocacy on college campuses, with a focus on achieving a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a two-state solution. UPZ already has a presence on over 15 campuses across the country, with programming reaching close to 40 campuses. J Street plans to increase the program dramatically starting in the 2009-2010 academic year.
“We have been able to accomplish quite a bit over the past few years with limited resources, but this new partnership presents an opportunity to expand our efforts in exciting new ways,” said UPZ Executive Director Tammy Shapiro. “UPZ’s activists and leadership are excited to join J Street in its mission to broaden the debate on campus and beyond about what is really best for the U.S. and Israel’s future.”