Photo Credit: Facebook
BU sophomore Raphael Fils, who started 'Safe Hillel'

“How has it happened that people are trying to turn Hillel into a place that is more accommodating to those who want to bash Israel, rather than those who just want to learn more about, and to support, Israel?”

Fils explained that part of what is happening is that the majority of students are being silenced by the activists. He also said there are places where the Hillel leadership respond to, and sometimes identify with the bullies, rather than trying to discern what the majority wants.


Safe Hillel will not only have a website and a Facebook page, but it will also have an anonymous tipline which will be set up so that students can report incidents that make them uncomfortable at their own campus Hillels, where a minority of students are pushing to provide platforms for speakers or partnerships which are anti-Israel. All of these tools will be active by mid-March.

The information from the tipline would be provided to Hillel professionals, and the professionals would decide whether action needs to be taken or not, and if so, what kind.

“Right now there are students on campuses who are afraid to speak and who are not feeling supported,” Fils explained. “We want to keep Hillel safe, it is the last safe place on campus for pro-Israel students, and we don’t want that taken away.”


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Lori Lowenthal Marcus is a contributor to the A graduate of Harvard Law School, she previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email:


  1. “Open Hillel is not really ‘open,’ it’s only being used to accommodate people on the left, those who are harshly critical of Israel’s every move. It is the people on the so-called ‘right’ who are being marginalized,”

    This about sums it up…if the open Hillel people had anything logical and rational to state, that would be something at least…but they don't.

  2. Safe Hillel has two goals: 1) To be a place where Israel cannot be criticized, to be a place where BDS cannot be supported, and to be a place where the right for Israel to exist as a Jewish state cannot be questioned. and 2) to be a place "where Jews of every Jewish denomination are able to practice their Judaism freely."

    These two goals are mutually exclusive. Fils can have one or the other, but he can't have both.

    Throughout the Middle Ages and into the early 1900s, most Jews thought it would be inappropriate for them to migrate en mass to form a state back to their ancient Homeland. They thought that God wanted them to wait patiently in the Diaspora for His signal that the end days were near before returning to Judea and Samaria to reform a Jewish State. As Mark Tessler explains in A History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (p. 19 – 20)

    "…most Jews nonetheless did not believe it was appropriate to initiate steps toward the reconstruction of their national home in Palestine. On the contrary, such action would indicate a loss of faith and the absence of a willingness to wait for the Creator's plan to unfold in its own Divinely ordained fashion, and this, as a consequence, would rupture the covenant between God and the Jewish people and make illogical and illegitimate any proclamations of Jewish nationhood or any assertion of a continuing tie beween Daspora Jewry and the Land of Israel. "

    This attitude started to change in the early 1900's thanks largely to the efforts of Rabbi Abraham Kook. Today almost all religious rabbis support the Jewish State of Israel. Almost. But there are still a small number of ultra-Orthodox rabbis who cling to the belief that it is going against God's will to form a Jewish State before He gives His signal. One such group, The True Torah Jews Against Zionism spells out why they are against a Zionist state of Israel:

    "The relatively new concept of Zionism began only about one hundred years ago and since that time Torah-true Jewry has steadfastly opposed the Zionist ideology. This struggle is rooted in two convictions:

    1. Zionism, by advocating a political and military end to the Jewish exile, denies the very essence of our Diaspora existence. We are in exile by Divine Decree and may emerge from exile solely via Divine Redemption. All human efforts to alter a metaphysical reality are doomed to end in failure and bloodshed. History has clearly borne out this teaching.

    2. Zionism has not only denied our fundamental belief in Heavenly Redemption it has also created a pseudo-Judaism which views the essence of our identity to be a secular nationalism. Accordingly, Zionism and the Israeli state have consistently endeavored, via persuasion and coercion, to replace a Divine and Torah-centered understanding of our peoplehood with an armed materialism.

    True Torah Jews is dedicated to informing the world and in particular the American public and politicians that not all Jews support the ideology of the Zionist state called "Israel". In fact, a great number of Orthodox Jews view the ideology of that state as diametrically opposed to the teachings of traditional Judaism."

    And here is a video by Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro explaining why True Torah Jews object to service in the IDF. Note that he calls into question Israel's validity.

    These Jews are well outside the mainstream of Jewish thought as far as their views of Israel is concerned. But they are Jews nonetheless. Would they be welcome in Safe Hillel? If not, then Fils should give up the claim that Safe Hillel is a place "where Jews of every Jewish denomination are able to practice their Judaism freely."

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