harold shapiro


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.