J Street launches campus effort


WASHINGTON (JTA) — J Street is joining with the Union of Progressive Zionists to establish a campus outreach program.

The left-wing, pro-Israel lobby group announced the project Wednesday, its one-year anniversary

“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,” J Street Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami said. “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.”

The plan was to increase UPZ’s current 15-campus representation “dramatically” over the next year, the announcement said.

A fund-raising pitch e-mailed to J Street’s membership asks for $50 contributions toward hiring two campus coordinators.

“The right has invested millions to promote their agenda on campus, cultivating unquestioning support of Israel and getting to the leaders of tomorrow early,” the letter said.

A number of mainstream and right-wing pro-Israel campus groups already exist. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee says more than 1,200 students — including 193 student government presidents — will attend its annual policy conference next month, coming from more than 350 campuses in all 50 states.

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