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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.

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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



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.

Yori Yanover

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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