It’s easy to post, but it’s not as easy to act. Social media platforms have become another source of news consumption for many users; reading articles and thoughts posted by friends, organizations, and brands. While it’s quite simple to like, share, or comment on content within your newsfeed, the interaction often ends there. Not for Michelle Soffen and Zach Schaffer, two FFT members that participated in NYC’s Boot Camp in 2015 & 2016, respectively.
Driven by conversations that developed on Soffen’s Facebook posts, Soffen saw an opportunity to take the conversation offline in hopes of finding a solution to the challenges Zionist progressive individuals face when it comes to supporting Israel. She shared, “I haven’t felt fully welcome in either circle. I feel like a lot of Zionist advocacy has become very right-winged and though there’s a place for that, it doesn’t totally align with my perspective.” She suggested a live meeting to discuss these issues, and many people expressed interest - including Schaffer who helped Soffen recruit for the event. Schaffer was excited to help out, “I thought this was an awesome idea, and I’m really excited to see what kind of conversations come out of this and how we can continue beyond this. This is hopefully just a start and not a one off event to support each other and to find ways for Progressive Zionists in NYC and our own networks stand up for all of the causes that we believe in all at the same time.”
These types of gatherings are important and show commitment to one’s communities. While FFT’s Boot Camp only last 11 sessions, it’s encouraging to see the impact the program has had on our members as they continue to work together to strategize around effective Israel advocacy that align with their beliefs. FFT is an inclusive community where networks of various ideologies and interests exist. Soffen explained, “I felt so alone before Boot Camp as an Israel advocate. To know there are so many like-minded people who have the same values that I do is a wonderful feeling and without knowing that, I would never have even thought to do something like this.”
The meeting was held on February 6th, with 21 people attending. Plans are already underway for the next meeting.
If you would like to learn more about the group, please reach out to Tali Schwartz, firstname.lastname@example.org.
A description taken from the Facebook event page reads as follows:
Calling All Zionist Progressives
Many Zionists feel unwelcome in progressive circles. They feel ostracized from their ideological home because of their support for Israel.
We know that Zionism is about emancipation, empowerment, and self-actualization. It's an inherently progressive cause. So, how do we communicate this? How can we network with other Zionist progressives, provide a support structure, and mobilize?
Join us as we discuss these issues and more. ALL are welcome, regardless of political affiliation.
This is not sponsored by any organization. We are simply a group of NYC-based Zionists who wish to make a difference.”