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Hillel Outmaneuvered as Swarthmore Students Reject Its Israel Guidelines

The question is, how will Hillel International prevent more of its healthy cells going cancer.
Swarthmore Hillel students having harmless fun. Their Hillel, however, has just gone rogue, repudiating the pro-Zionist policy of Hillel International.

Swarthmore Hillel students having harmless fun. Their Hillel, however, has just gone rogue, repudiating the pro-Zionist policy of Hillel International.
Photo Credit: swathillel.org

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See: Students Angered by Hillel’s Pro-Israel Standards published earlier this week.

Among other things, the Swarthmore Hillel Board, 2013-2014, has stated:

“On November 11, former speaker of the Israeli Knesset Avraham Burg was supposed to give a talk on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the Harvard Hillel house. Instead, Hillel barred him from speaking at the Hillel house, and he ended up giving his talk in an undergraduate dormitory on campus. The reason he was barred? His talk was co-sponsored by the Harvard College Palestinian Solidarity Committee.”

Hillel International’s Guidelines for Campus Israel Activities prohibit campus chapters from partnering with groups or hosting speakers who deny Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state; delegitimize, demonize or apply double standards to Israel; support boycott, divestment and sanctions efforts against Israel; or foster an atmosphere of incivility. The policy encourages individual campus Hillels to adopt their own policies that are “consistent” with these guidelines.

And so, the student board of Swarthmore College’s Hillel repudiated the International Hillel guidelines prohibiting partnerships with groups deemed hostile toward Israel. Big time.

For the life of me I cannot understand why anyone would imagine that boycotting a speaker from reaching young people would do the boycotting entity any good. It’s a recipe for boosting the injured party’s popularity. But even more important – it allows them to reach their next audience without fear of being challenged by an opposing, informative voice.

Instead of barring anybody from speaking, Hillel should have insisted that they may only appear alongside a reliable spokesperson for the Israeli side.

The Swarthmore Hillel board further wrote:

“Sadly, for organizations bearing the name “Hillel,” situations like these are all too common. Across the country, many Hillels have banned Breaking the Silence, an organization of Israeli soldiers that facilitates talks about the Israeli military and West Bank occupation. Jewish Voice for Peace, which seeks ‘peace and justice for all peoples of the Middle East,’ has never been allowed to affiliate with Hillels. On some campuses, J Street has had a difficult time working with Hillels, and events co-sponsored by Students for Justice in Palestine or Palestine Solidarity Committees have often been banned.”

That’s infuriating – that Hillel would squander these opportunities to teach students about the falsehoods being disseminated by the enemies of Israel, and simply refuse to deal with them is just unacceptable.

The guidelines, stated the board, “would exclude speakers with views like those of Peter Beinart, Judith Butler, and Noam Chomsky.”

Why would Hillel wish to avoid confrontation with these fanatical enemies of Israel? Any well trained Israeli spokesperson, whether from the IDF Spokesperson’s Office or from the Israeli foreign office would easily poke holes in their trite arguments, with eloquence and deep knowledge. Why not challenge them, rather than block their access? Are Hillel officials uncertain about their own Zionist convictions?

The Swarthmore Hillel’s student board voted unanimously on Sunday to reject the Hillel guidelines for campus Israel activities. The Pennsylvania liberal arts college’s Hillel became the first chapter of the Jewish campus organization to declare itself an “Open Hillel,” part of a student movement that says its goal is to “encourage inclusivity and open discourse at campus Hillels.”

Here’s the full resolution, titled: “Swarthmore Hillel is an Open Hillel”

Unanimously adopted by Swarthmore Hillel Student Board, December 8, 2013

Whereas Hillel International prohibits partnering with, hosting, or housing anyone who (a) denies the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish and democratic state with secure and recognized borders, (b) delegitimizes, demonizes, or applies a double standard to Israel, (c) supports boycott of, divestment from, or sanctions against the State of Israel;

And whereas this policy has resulted in the barring of speakers from organizations such as Breaking the Silence and the Israeli Knesset from speaking at Hillels without censorship, and has resulted in Jewish Voice for Peace not being welcome under the Hillel umbrella;

And whereas this policy runs counter to the values espoused by our namesake, Rabbi Hillel, who was famed for encouraging debate in contrast with Rabbi Shammai;

And whereas Hillel, while purporting to support all Jewish Campus Life, presents a monolithic face pertaining to Zionism that does not accurately reflect the diverse opinions of young American Jews;

And whereas Hillel’s statement that Israel is a core element of Jewish life and a gateway to Jewish identification for students does not allow space for others who perceive it as irrelevant to their Judaism;

And whereas Hillel International’s Israel guidelines privilege only one perspective on Zionism, and make others unwelcome;

And whereas the goals of fostering a diverse community and supporting all Jewish life on campus cannot be met when Hillel International’s guidelines are in place;

Therefore be it resolved that Swarthmore Hillel declares itself to be an Open Hillel; an organization that supports Jewish life in all its forms; an organization that is a religious and cultural group whose purpose is not to advocate for one single political view, but rather to open up space that encourages dialogue within the diverse and pluralistic Jewish student body and the larger community at Swarthmore; an organization that will host and partner with any speaker at the discretion of the board, regardless of Hillel International’s Israel guidelines; and an organization that will always strive to be in keeping with the values of open debate and discourse espoused by Rabbi Hillel.

I have no idea what they mean by the values of discourse and debate espoused by rabbi Hillel, honestly, I have no idea where they dug up that one, other than from their smoke-infused imaginations. I mean, Hillel the Elder wasn’t AGAINST open debate, but neither was anyone else in the Talmud. So Hillel is yet another casualty of Reform Jewish education (nebech).

The question is, how will Hillel International prevent more of its healthy cells going cancer (oh, I’m going to get quoted on this one).

I say, open the gates to anyone, from Hitler to Stalin, with the proviso that there must be a fair and balanced debate with any reputable defender of Zionism.

All we need now are Palestinian Hillels.

JTA contributed to this report.

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About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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11 Responses to “Hillel Outmaneuvered as Swarthmore Students Reject Its Israel Guidelines”

  1. Robin Rosenblatt says:

    Have America Jews abandon Israel?

    “It’s Time to Stand Up for Israel”

    These are the ranches we are helping

    http://youtu.be/hMF12Ru–yw

    http://youtu.be/TGfc2oRYyxA

    The longer it takes to fund the Israel Longhorn Project, the more ranch land will be stolen, the more farmers and ranchers will go bankrupt and more families and ranchers will be murdered. Once the land is stolen it is almost impossible to get it back, once a life is taken it is impossible to get it back; this is the very land that you bought for Israel through the JNF.

    http://longhornproject.org

    Israeli Ranches are being attacked, their land being stolen and their passive European cattle are being mutilated and killed by local Arabs and by natural predators, wolves and jackals. Israeli European beef cattle are incompatible with Israel’s desert environment. This has resulted in many problems including high calf losses, (as high as 30%). Israel needs desert cattle that fits its environment and can defend it's self and it's calves. That breed of cattle is Texas Longhorn.

    I like guns but for me they are just tools, a tool to protect the cattle and myself. But these cattle have something better, sharp horns. Texas Longhorn cattle can kill and it takes a lot less explaining afterwards then it does if I shoot the SOB.

    Project supports: The Israeli Border Police, the New Shomerim, Israel’s Agriculture Department and the Prime Minister’s office.

    Checks deposited directly into the nonprofit account at Wells Fargo Bank, Belmont, California

    Israel Longhorn Project
    Robin Rosenblatt, M.Sc. Ex Israeli Soldier, past anti terrorist Agent
    Director – The Longhorn Project
    Nonprofit 501(c) 3 #74-3177354
    Tel: 650.631.9270
    Address: 815 Hill Street, # 5
    Belmont, CA 94002
    <robin@longhornproject.org>
    <http://longhornproject.org&gt;

  2. Cody Flecker says:

    Maybe Hillel can invite the American Nazi Party or the KKK to give a talk.

  3. Alan Kardon says:

    What land is "Occupied"? Stolen from who?

  4. Fred Weiser says:

    A major Blunder!

  5. There is really no pressing need to coddle our enemy and provide a platform for them to spew hate against Jews and Israel no matter what fancy and 'quiet' words are used. Ultimately, islam must go, leave Israel to its true owners…and soon!

  6. These Swarthmore Hillel students actually make the national Hillel look strong on Israel. In fact, the national Hillel, to my knowledge, has never ever attempted to educate Jewish students about the true nature of the conflict over Israel, namely, Islamic anti-Semitism.The fact is that the fundamental religious doctrines of Islam, as set for in the Koran and the sayings of Muhammad, call for war against the Jews in order to either subjugate them or kill them.

    Here is what Islam's god says: "Fight against those to whom the Scriptures were given [i.e. Jews and Christians]… until they pay tribute out of hand and are utterly subdued." Koran 9:29

    Here is what Islam's prophet said: "You (i.e. Muslims) will fight with the Jews till some of them will hide behind stones. The stones will (betray them) saying, '0 'Abdullah (i.e. slave of Allah)! There is a Jew hiding behind me; so kill him.' ” This is part of the Hamas Charter.

    The conflict over Israel is NOT a territorial conflict which can be resolved by drawing new lines on old maps. It is NOT a "Palestinian-Israeli" conflict which can be resolved by some sort of peace with the "Palestinians". It is not even an "Arab-Israeli" conflict. Iran is Israel's deadliest enemy, and Iran (that is, The Islamic Republic of Iran) is not even Arab, let alone "Palestinian".

    Not a single Moslem-majority country, including the PLO, recognizes Israel's right to exist. We are dealing with an Islamic holy war against the Jews, and Hillel has never even attempted to explain this to Jewish students.

  7. Walter Richards says:

    Any well trained Israeli spokesperson, whether from the IDF Spokesperson’s Office or from the Israeli foreign office would easily poke holes in their trite arguments, with eloquence and deep knowledge. Why not challenge them

    An official spokeman of Israel is limited in what he can say. He has to follow guidelines. The other side usually has private israel bashers who can lie all they want and do. How come no calls a debate about the atrocities committed by the palestinian autthority with their official spokesmen why is it always about Israel.
    Israel is constantly on the defensive. The palestinians know enough not to send
    their spokesmen before audiences that will be hostile. Israel does not.
    And the questions posed by hostile audiences are designed to paint israel
    into a corner.There are things an officiial Israeli spokeman are not allowed to say.

    It's not true that truth can dispel lies. The anti israel fanatics follow the Nazi
    big lie technique. As soon as lie is rebutted another one is launched.
    Tsunamis of lies. They have a cumulative effect. And it's working.
    People tend to believe in any falsehood, if that same or similiar falsehoods are repeated over and over

  8. I agree,Hillel lost an opportunity.
    These pro-Palestinian groups don't allow opposing viewpoint at their college campus events. I have been there.

  9. Yechiel Baum says:

    review the by-laws and make it mandatory to support Jewish causes which includes Israel and Judaism. If hey don't like it, they can sit with nuteri karta and see what they will achieve from them.

  10. Hillel need to fight for whats right not just hope that people will see their perspective.

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