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  • Hillels of Georgia

Emory Launches Progressive Zionist Club

February 24, 2022 (Atlanta Jewish Times)

Many students at Emory University identify as progressives and advocate liberal views. But when it comes to Israel, many are not as vocal in their support.

Jillian Krim is one of two students who have set out to prove that being progressive and Zionist can go hand in hand. She and Emma Rosenau founded Emory Progressive Zionists, a new club that was officially recognized as an Emory University student organization in January.

“Always being a very liberal person, I was also very proud of my Zionist identity; I kept being told I couldn’t do both” said Rosenau.

Indeed, the club’s mission is to show students on campus — and the world beyond — that progressivism and Zionism are not mutually exclusive. Student leaders work with Hillel staff to plan programs and bring in speakers to discuss how those on the political left can recognize Israel’s right to exist and be proud Zionists.

Both Krim and Rosenau are highly involved in pro-Israel campus activities. Krim is a member of Eagles for Israel, a club that celebrates Israeli culture, and Rosenau is a member of EIPAC (Emory Israel Public Affairs Committee), a political club that often works with elected officials. Together, Krim said, they started the club to “combat the rising anti-Israel sentiment on campuses.”

Krim said she saw reports that Zionist students felt increasingly unwelcome in progressive spaces on campus. “People incorrectly claim that you cannot be progressive and Zionist at the same time because they don’t know the true meaning of Zionism. While it means believing in Israel’s right to exist, people have been confusing it with a conservative, racist view which is incredibly inaccurate,” she said.

Krim sees a future in which the Emory Progressive Zionist club can be a space for students who identify as progressives to support the two causes openly. One of the club’s first events was a lecture by Dr. Einat Wilk on the intersection of feminism and Zionism.

Before the club launched, there was only one pro-Israel club on campus, the bipartisan organization EIPAC. “Progressive groups on campus considered being pro-Israel to be a conservative idea,” Rosenau said.

She and Krim felt that many students with left-leaning views who also supported Israel needed a place of their own to discuss ideas, develop programs and lift up their voices. They wanted to create an organization that could meet with other progressive student organizations to engage in discussions and show that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not as black and white as many would portray it.

Last October, the club brought activist Ashager Araro to campus. A proud Zionist, feminist and antiracist advocate, Araro was born in Ethiopia and raised in Yavne, Israel. She spoke about her family’s experience living in Ethiopia and in Israel to some 90 students from across campus, including the Emory ROTC, Hillel and Keshet Council, and students from the Hillels at Georgia State and Georgia Tech.

Just a month later, it hosted a virtual, interactive learning opportunity with Ofer Erez, an LGBTQ Israeli activist and the first transgender officer in the IDF. (During his service, Erez was part of a group that decided on the procedures for better integrating transgender soldiers into the IDF.)

Karp noted that “the Progressive Zionist group of students is supported by Emory Hillel, where their Israel Fellow, Or Drory, provides them with professional leadership and assistance.” The program is supported by Hillels of Georgia and the Jewish Agency for Israel.

Going forward, Rosenau hopes that Emory Progressive Zionists continues to grow its membership and becomes a bigger club on campus. “We started off just Jillian and I and our two board members,” she said, “and now we have an executive board of 12 student leaders and a general body of 75 students on our email list. I am confident that Emory Progressive Zionists will be a staple on Emory’s campus for several years to come.”

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