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Why Is Sheldon Adelson’s Jewish Fraternity AEPI Expanding To Israel?

AEPi, known as the “Jewish” fraternity,” is expanding to Israel, and it’s not an obvious move.

The group which recently chartered its third full fledged branch in Israel, is trying to establish a role for fraternities in a country where Greek Life is not part of the Israeli students’ experience and where fraternities and sororities are virtually unknown.

Haaretz reported that the third and newest AEPi branch will be located at the Tel Aviv University, Israel’s largest academic institution. Others are already active at the Interdisciplinary Center in Hertzeliya, known for its significant English-speaking student body, and at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

“I’ve had people telling me for years that we couldn’t make this happen in Israel,” AEPi executive director Andrew Borans told Haaretz. “It turns out they were all 100 percent wrong. The kids starting university in Israel need to feel that they belong just as much as kids in the United States.”

While officially apolitical, AEPi relies on donations from mega-donor Sheldon Adelson and other Jewish Republican contributors. The fraternity also played a role in blocking the liberal lobby J Street from joining the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish American Organizations. Recently, AEPi was hit with financial turmoil that led to the resignation of two senior officers in the group.

Contact Nathan Guttman at guttman@forward.com or on Twitter @nathanguttman

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