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Hillel Responds to ‘Outrageous’ Attack on Israel Guidelines

Hillel International's Board Chairman explains in detail why it is a 'false and outrageous accusation' for (former Hillel) Rabbi Warshal to claim 'Hillel bans liberal Jews who love Israel but disagree with the current Netanyahu government.'
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Logo of Hillel International

This op-ed was written in response to another op-ed, one in which a long-time Hillel professional, Rabbi Bruce Warshal, announced that he was quitting his position with Hillel because of the organization’s staunch support of its own Israel guidelines.

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Rabbi Bruce Warshal sadly announced his departure from the Hillel movement in the Sun Sentinel newspaper on March 4, 2014. As the chairman of the Board of Directors of Hillel International, I join Rabbi Warshal in expressing a heavy heart.

My sadness results from Rabbi Warshal’s decision to leave the remarkable organization I am proud to serve based on a gross mischaracterization of Hillel’s positive values and inclusive policies. It is my hope that a clarification of Hillel’s true values and mission will encourage Rabbi Warshal to remain part of the Hillel family, where he is quite welcome.

Contrary to what Rabbi Warshal claims, no individual is banned from Hillel, and no issue is off limits to our students. Indeed, Hillel encourages students to bring all their ideas, questions, and concerns about Jewish life and identity through our doors and to our dedicated professionals. It is only through such openness that we can fulfill our vision of “inspiring an enduring commitment to Jewish life, learning and Israel.”

Hillel creates opportunities for students to travel to Israel, to learn about Israeli culture, history and current events, to forge relationships with Israelis, and to build a culture of civility on campus where students can engage with Israel and Judaism in a positive and authentic way. Hillel’s tent is big enough to welcome Jews no matter their politics, level of religious observance, or perspectives.

The guidelines Rabbi Warshal deplores clearly articulate a commitment to inclusion and to the fostering of “civil discourse about Israel in a safe and supportive college environment that is fertile for dialogue and learning.” To fulfill this commitment, Hillel proudly partners with many organizations and groups from across the political and religious spectrum.

Within the rich environment of open debate and learning Hillel cultivates, we steadfastly maintain our commitment to support “Israel as a Jewish and democratic state … as a member of the family of nations.” For this reason, Hillel rightly refrains from hosting or partnering with speakers or groups who deny Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish democratic state, delegitimize, demonize, or apply a double standard to Israel, or support boycott of, divestment from, or sanctions against the State of Israel.

Those who advocate the destruction of the Jewish people, Jewish values or the Jewish state will not be offered a platform or partnership. How Rabbi Warshal gets from this legitimate position to the claim that “liberal Jews who love Israel but disagree with the current Netanyahu government” are banned from Hillel is impossible for me to explain. It is a false and outrageous accusation.

The stories Rabbi Warshal tells to condemn Hillel’s Israel guidelines are similarly false. They have been refuted by Hillel time and again, yet live on in the blogs and media stories upon which the rabbi apparently relies. Had Rabbi Warshal checked with Hillel, he would know these stories are inaccurate.

For example, contrary to Rabbi Warshal’s claim, Avrum Burg was, in fact, welcomed to Harvard Hillel where he spoke to students. Yes, Harvard Hillel did decline to co-sponsor a public event later that same evening with an organization that annually has brought “Israel Apartheid Week” to Harvard, and that ceaselessly seeks the alienation and the dissolution of the Jewish State. My colleagues and I on the Hillel International Board of Directors think Harvard Hillel got it right.

Hillel provides a welcoming, open and pluralistic environment for Jewish students of all backgrounds on 550 college and university campuses across North America and in 13 countries on five continents. We offer Jewish students a home away from home, and serve to protect and enrich Jewish life on campus. Hillel is dedicated to enriching the lives of Jewish students so that they may enrich the Jewish people and the world. It is a vital and growing organization, to which thousands of volunteers, professionals and student leaders dedicate their time, energy and resources every day. Their work is a credit to the Jewish people, and they deserve our thanks.

About the Author: Mr. Pertnoy is the chairman of Hillel International's Board of Directors.


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9 Responses to “Hillel Responds to ‘Outrageous’ Attack on Israel Guidelines”

  1. Ben Packer says:

    all good, except the continuously misguided use of the term "rabbi" before the clown's name. Hillel should be ecstatic at unloading some vile, dead weight. they are much better off and so are the students!

  2. Uzi Kattan says:

    Hilllel's disgusting actions don't surprise me with their 'pluralistic' Judaism which is a progressive organization disguised as Judaism. They have no shame to visit that terrorist's grave and his homosexual hangout. What a way to promote Jewish values, NOT!

  3. Stuart Kaufman says:

    "Rabbi" Warshal has no business being within five miles of any pro-Israel organization. He is a self-hating leftist, who would rather save whales than save Jews. The nonsense about wanting this piece of crap to re-join Hillel is further evidence of Hillel's descent into irrelevance and perfidy. "Rabbi" Warshal is a modern day Korach. Those who would do anything other than shun him are fellow travelers and fools.

  4. Seriously, to even suggest that liberal Jews cannot express opinion at Hillel and elsewhere, often critical of Israel, is a preposterous assertion.

    In fact , there is more tolerance of these voices than vice versa.

  5. Robin Rosenblatt says:

    The Problem is Liberal Jew Many America Rabbi’s and Jews have divided minds, half of it supports Israel and other half supports the Palestinians. My question? Supporting Palestinians to do what? Kill more Jews, Israelis or their Arab brothers?

  6. Robin Rosenblatt says:

    Hillel Jewish students and leaders generally have no education about Israel or our enemy Islam. Many think Islam is just like Judaism they do know that Islamic Culture is a War, Hate, Violent and Slave Culture.

  7. Rabbi Warshal" is an enemy of Israel and I say this is great news that he quit Hillel. He is a liar and an Obama shill. I refuse to advertise in his paper as long as he still writes for them.

  8. Dan Friedman says:

    A good sign. Hillel's efforts to regain its Jewish character must be having an effect. Here's another so-called rabbi who finds Zionism incompatible with his leftwing views. Gey gezunterheyt!

  9. Robin Rosenblatt says:

    American Jews who love their children unconditionally. Love Israel conditionally only if Israel does and behaves, as they want. If Israel violates this imposed contract these Jews turn to helping the Palestinians who want to kill every Israeli and Jew.
    If you love Israel unconditionally you won’t abandon and betray Israel as many of you have done.
    If you stand up for yourselves and Israel you will be respected. If you don’t you will be seen as weak and disrespected.

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