Hillel’s Role in Fighting BDS on Campus

bdsReprinted from TimesofIsrael.com.

Will students like me remember 2013 as a year when the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel made headlines with calls for academic boycotts? Will we remember it as a time when the American Jewish community debated how “open” our university campus Hillels should be?

As a graduate student at Harvard University, and a member of the local Harvard Hillel board, I have been disappointed to see many news outlets covering these respective, albeit related, news stories interview professors, administrators and university presidents, while leaving out an important voice: the very students these headlines effect.

In April, the Asian-American Studies Association became the first professional academic association in the United States to call for an academic boycott of Israel. In early December, the American Studies Association (ASA) voted to boycott Israeli universities and asked American scholars to sever ties with Israeli academic institutions. The Modern Language Association comprised of 30,000 members, opened its annual conference in early January with a panel on “Academic Boycotts: A Conversation about Israel and Palestine.”

Such boycott-resolutions are not only a clear violation of academic freedom but also part of a global campaign to undermine the moral and political foundations of the State of Israel. The BDS movement openly asserts its opposition to the existence of a Jewish State.

BDS activists have long relied on academic organizations and platforms to promote their cause. The college campus has become a hotbed for anti-Israel activity and while there are examples of students speaking out against student organized anti-Israel and BDS activities, in the classroom, it becomes more difficult. When a professor uses his classroom to espouse lies and hatred against Israel, many students do not speak up for fear of grade retribution.

With the rising surge of BDS on campus, it is becoming increasingly important that students have a safe haven to discuss, criticize and support Israel free from those who seek its destruction. Campus Hillels are one place, an important place, where students from a broad spectrum of backgrounds and viewpoints can and should be able to come together and find support to speak up against those who seek Israel’s demise.

Last year at Harvard, a group of students, the Harvard College Progressive Jewish Alliance, requested to cosponsor an event at the Harvard Hillel entitled “Jewish Voices Against the Israeli Occupation” with the Harvard College Palestine Solidarity Committee, a group that wholly endorses the BDS movement. Rabbi Jonah Steinberg, Harvard Hillel’s executive director, rejected the students’ request citing Hillel International’s standards of partnership, enforced at Harvard Hillel, that prohibit partnerships with or sponsorships of groups (Jewish or non-Jewish) that deny the right of Israel to exist. Subsequently, the student-organized event took place outside of Harvard Hillel, and the point was made that Harvard Hillel would not lend its name or resources to groups that support BDS.

Sadly, such is not the case at all Hillel Houses around the country. On December 8, the student board of Swarthmore College’s Hillel passed a resolution to defy Hillel’s national guidelines entirely. In rejecting Hillel’s guidelines for campus activities, Swarthmore’s chapter wrote “all are welcome to walk through our doors and speak with our name and under our roof, be they Zionist, post-Zionist, or non-Zionist.”

In response, Eric Fingerhut, the new President of Hillel International, stated in a letter to the Swarthmore Hillel student board that “Hillel International expects all campus organizations that use the Hillel name to adhere to [its] guidelines…Anti-Zionists will not be permitted to speak using the Hillel name or under the Hillel roof, under any circumstances.”

Since issuing this response, Fingerhut has received criticism from a variety of media sources decrying how Hillel International’s policy censors speech. But Hillel, like any private organization, has the right to refuse to underwrite, sponsor or endorse a speaker or event, particularly if the speaker or event discriminates against the Jewish people, and Hillel does not prevent such speakers from taking their message elsewhere.

Other outlets have acknowledged Hillel’s right to have guidelines, but have criticized the guidelines themselves, citing concern about the inability for Jewish students to engage in constructive dialogue with Palestinian students on campus.

Inside Hillel, as Fingerhut wrote in a post on Hillel’s website on December 29th, “Hillel welcomes all students, Jewish and non-Jewish, to discuss and debate topics.” There is a difference, however, between inviting individual students into the Hillel and hosting or providing a platform to a group that does not recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State.

This past September, a diverse group of students gathered for lunch at the University of Southern California Hillel. Jewish, Muslim, and Christian students came together to listen, learn and initiate an interreligious dialogue about peace building in the Middle East. Guest speakers included Rabbi Ron Kronish, founder and director of the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel and Qadi Iyad Zahalka, the judge of the Jerusalem Muslim Sharia Court of the State of Israel. According to Danielle Haberer, a Jewish student at USF who attended the event, “though sensitive, complex questions were asked, in the end, we left with more knowledge about one another than we had entered with and we left with the promise that dialogue would persist.” At the Drexel University Hillel, the pro-Israel student group, Dragons for Israel, recently cohosted a Middle East Peace Night with the Muslim Students Association.

The reason these events were possible? In each scenario, the Palestinian and Arab student groups and speakers did not endorse the BDS movement. Jewish and Muslim students were thus able to engage in constructive dialogue inside the Hillel House.

Hillel’s guidelines do not prevent students from engaging with Palestinian students on campus. Instead, the guidelines serve as a necessary signal to both Jewish and non-Jewish groups about the parameters that are necessary in order to achieve productive, peaceful and tolerant dialogue. Without Hillel’s guidelines, it is unlikely that students that support the BDS movement would ever come to realize the anti-Semitic, hate-filled nature of the movement and eventually, hopefully, withdraw their support.

Moreover, if Hillel were to abolish its guidelines and effectively provide a platform for speakers and groups that sought to destroy Israel, it would become much more difficult for students on campus to speak up and correct the misinformation and lies spewed by anti-Israel activists on campus. After all, if the Center for Jewish Life on campus is willing to host voices that seek to undermine the legitimacy of a Jewish State, how can I, as a student, credibly suggest (as I should) that such groups preach hate, not peace.

A community that stands for nothing but openness, stands for nothing. By taking a stand against groups that seek Israel’s destruction, Hillel serves to empower and encourage the next generation of American Jews to speak out and expose the anti-Semitic goals of the BDS movement. If not us, then who?

Sara Greenberg is pursuing a masters degree in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School and a masters in business.

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  • Insecticide

    Hillel was never really a Jewish institution but rather a liberal one

  • sisterlauren

    What if BDS isn’t motivated by hate? What if it’s goal isn’t the elimination of Israel? What if it isn’t even anti-semitic?

    By refusing to even listen to them to hear their real concerns, you will never find out what they actually want.

    What kind of a peace plan is that?

    • Chezwick

      “What if BDS isn’t motivated by hate?”

      What if it is? Your own words are motivated by hate. Proof? Right here…

      “It looks like the plan is for Israel to keep expanding indefinitely.”

      Israel withdrew from Sinai, from Lebanon, from Gaza. And in your twisted ethos, she is “expanding indefinitely”. Only hatred could inspire such a bastardization of the truth.

      • sisterlauren

        If BDS was my idea, then I think I’d be able to tell what it was motivated by, wouldn’t I?

    • defcon 4

      What if muhammad flew to the Temple Mount on a flying donkey? What if sathan has been urinating in your ear? What if camel urine isn’t the healthy drink it’s supposed to be? Have you had your mug of warm camel urine today?

      • SCREW SOCIALISM

        The donkey flew, riding on the back of muhammed.

    • SCREW SOCIALISM

      Here is a peace plan.

      NUKE MECCA during the Hajj.

  • sisterlauren

    I’m curious what Sara Greenberg would have to say about this,

    Bennett: A Palestinian state will destroy Israel’s economy
    http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Bennett-A-Palestinian-state-will-destroy-Israels-economy-338770

    He says “Israel should not give in to pressure to make concessions to the Palestinians.” so I’m wondering what the plan is. It looks like the plan is for Israel to keep expanding indefinitely.

    I’d like to hear what a Jewish person like yourself thinks about the Palestinians in that situation, how do you think they should feel about that prospect and if you were one of them what would you do about it?

    I do not see Israelis showing a lot of empathy for the Palestinian people, so I’m asking you to put yourself in their position and see it from their perspective.

    • bob smith

      You know absolutely NOTHING of ANY points in modern history nor history in general. For you, appeasement is your mantra. This appeasement with islam has produced exactly what to date, anywhere on the planet? What?

      • sisterlauren

        No, that is not how it happened at all. What happened is that one of my Girl Scouts asked me why pot was illegal. I didn’t know why, so I looked it up. What I discovered horrified me.

        It also gave me an idea about how to end war globally.

        • bob smith

          wow, you are sorely lacking. the obvious escapes you.

          • sisterlauren

            It is called “beginner’s mind” and is super-useful for problem solving.

          • SCREW SOCIALISM

            In your case it’s progressively worsening mental illness.

          • Drakken

            Obviously the shortbus picked you up to take you to school didn’t it?

          • defcon 4

            Or, alternatively, her mosque or madrassah.

    • defcon 4

      Bukhari:V4B52N177
      “Allah’s Apostle said, ‘You Muslims will fight the Jews till some of them hide behind stones. The stones will betray them saying, “O Abdullah (slave of Allah)! There is a Jew hiding behind me; so kill him.”‘”

      • sisterlauren
        • defcon 4

          So have I islamic dirtbag liar:

          (Quran 5:33): The Punishment for those who oppose Allah and his messenger is: Execution or Crucifixion or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides or exile from the land.

          (Quran 9:5): Then when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush.

          (Quran 8:12): Remember Thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): “I am with you: give firmness to the believers, I will instill terror into the hearts of the unbelievers, Smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger tips of them.”

          (Quran 5:49-51) O YOU WHO BELIEVE! DO NOT TAKE THE JEWS AND THE CHRISTIANS FOR FRIENDS; THEY ARE FRIENDS OF EACH OTHER; AND WHOEVER AMONGST YOU TAKES THEM FOR A FRIEND, THEN SURELY HE IS ONE OF THEM; SURELY ALLAH DOES NOT GUIDE THE UNJUST PEOPLE.

    • SCREW SOCIALISM

      Who shows empathy for savages who hijack planes and fly them into buildings, bomb the London transport on 7/7/05, bomb Pan Am 103, murder 125,000+ in Syria, bomb Volgograd – threatening the Sochi Olympics?

      Your sand naz i savages.

      Happy Eternal Nakba!

      • sisterlauren

        9/11 was an inside job. The Bush administration did it on purpose.

        • Drakken

          Your living proof hat you just can’t fix stupid nor save you, your a Darwin Award winner in waiting. Good riddance and please don’t breed.

    • PAthena

      I have no sympathy for those who want to destroy Israel and kill all Jews. Calling Arabs “Palestinians” is a consequence of Soviet propaganda, the Soviet Union and Gamal Nasser, ruler of Egypt, both haters of Jews and of Israel, in Cairo in 1964 founded the “Palestine Liberation Organization” (P.L.O.) whose name shows its Soviet origins. It came to fame by the massacre of the Israeli athletes at the Olympic Games in Munich in 1972, from which time “Palestinian” has meant Arab enemies of Israel and Jews.
      The term “Palestinian” has been synonymous with “Jew” since the Roman Emperor Hadrian changed the name of Judea to Palestina in 135 A.D., after having defeated the last Jewish rebellion under Bar Kochba. From then on. He wanted to eradicate all memory of Judea and the Jews; he outlawed Judaism and he renamed Jerusalem “Aelia Capitolina,” “Aelius” being his gens name.
      “Palestine” then became synonymous with “land of the Jews, ” which is why Great Britain after World War I was given the “Palestine Mandate” to be “the homeland of the Jews.”
      Since the name “Palestinian” was hijacked by the Soviet Union and Egypt to mean the Arab haters of Israel and the Jews, I have no sympathy for these Arabs.

    • Omar

      The so-called “Palestinians” are an invented people created by the Soviet Union in the 1960s in order to discredit Israel’s right to exist. “Palestine” is a geographical entity, not a country nor ethnicity. Why don’t you discuss why Islamists don’t have any empathy for Israelis? Why don’t you discuss why Islamists are at war with anyone who doesn’t support their totalitarian worldview? Quit repeating leftist/Islamist lies and propaganda and learn from fact.

  • sisterlauren

    A sustainable, believable political settlement between Israel and the Arab world is the biggest impediment stopping Israel from becoming a major air hub

    Air Canada CEO: Peace could turn Israel into a hub
    http://www.jpost.com/Business/Business-Features/Air-Canada-CEO-Peace-could-turn-Israel-into-a-hub-338827

    Israel needs to ask itself how much it’s present pro-war policies are really costing it in lost opportunity costs. I think it is a lot more than you would think. Peace is good for business.

    • bob smith

      Perhaps your message needs to be better understood by the most violent, oppressive people on the face of the planet, muslims and their extremist views.
      when Israel stops all of their suicide bombings and destruction of everything in their path all in the name of ‘peace’ be sure to let me know.
      oh, did I say Israel? Pardon me, I meant the followers of the peace loving religion of islam.

      • sisterlauren

        If Israel wants to make peace, they are going to have to learn how to set the example for the Muslims.

        • T Hck

          If Israel’s neighbors wish peace they must recognize Israel’s right to exist. No peace will ever begin less that fundamental right.

          I asked you what year was it that you communicated with Israeli leaders On-line and influenced Israel to end major operations in Gaza. Is there an answer in our near future?

          • sisterlauren

            I answered you, it was not published.

            When that happens I always wonder who is editing my comments. Discus? The State Department? It is an interesting question.

          • T Hck

            Try again, please.

          • sisterlauren

            I asked you why I would want to do that since they are mass murderers.

          • SCREW SOCIALISM

            sistaloozer,

            I hope the NSA is listening to your phone calls.

          • laura r

            disques does not moderate. usually the journalist does, or someone on staff. sometime articals are not even moderated unless there are several “flags” i cant imagine why you would be deleted. write it again, sometimes my comments dont go through.

        • bob smith

          you are severely out of touch with reality. muslims have zero appetite for peace nor any wont of moderation. what part of this do you fail to understand and remain blind to?

          • sisterlauren

            Well, to start with I don’t believe you. Why should I?

          • bob smith

            do you understand the definition of the phrase ‘the preponderance of the evidence’?
            God help those poor girl scouts…do their parents know of your ideology? were you screened in order to take on that level of responsibility? I have serious reservations of you given your level of naiveté considering you are an adult who is obviously living in denial.

          • defcon 4

            Another slave of allah, doing her duty and dissimulating for her holey prophet and death cult.

          • SCREW SOCIALISM

            Why don’t you play in traffic, at night, dressed in a black burqa?

          • sisterlauren

            People like you make me glad the FBI is watching my every move.

          • Drakken

            Well put your goddamn money where your mouth is and go there, then you can express all the sympathy for a bunch of god forsaken savages to your little guilty libtarded pleasure. Stupid people like you are the bain our existence.

        • iluvisrael

          When Israel gave gaza back, the arabs turned it into a cesspool almost overnight – from which they lob rockets to terrorize, maim and kill Jews.

          • defcon 4

            Please that is most unfair. After all mortar rounds have also been lobbed into Israel from Gaza and let’s not forget the one friendly AT rocket peacefully fired into an Israeli school bus from Gaza.

        • defcon 4

          Sisterlauren, or muhjadeen Amatullah? Israel, like India, has experienced nothing but islamic terrorism for the last 70 years as well as 3 islamic invasions that had nothing but genocidal intent (i.e. “to push the Jews into the sea”). I’d say Israel doesn’t owe muslimes anything and neither do the rest of the world’s najjis kaffir.

        • SCREW SOCIALISM

          sistaloozer,

          If Muslims want Peace, they must eliminate the jihadi/salifi/wahabbi/al qada pigs that are giving Islam a bad reputation.

          Otherwise Mecca will be destroyed – in retaliation.

        • Drakken

          Let me help you out with your utter stupidity, the muslims will NEVER EVER give the Jews peace, they want them all dead period, so spare me your sympathy for a bunch of Islamic savages, perhaps St. Pancake needs some company.

    • SCREW SOCIALISM

      sistaloozer,

      Israel isn’t at War with the entire world.

      Your sand naz is ARE.

      They now have KGB Putin on their case due to the sand na zi bombing of Volgograd.

      Happy Eternal Nakba!

  • sisterlauren

    It is not really BDS that you are fighting against, it is the basic idea of fairness.

    That is why I think you will lose that fight. It is also not all about Palestine and Israel. It is a global peace plan, meaning it involves the Christians.

    ARE AMERICAN EVANGELICALS FRACTURING WHEN IT COMES TO SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL?
    http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/01/20/are-american-evangelicals-fracturing-when-it-comes-to-support-for-israel/

    If you only look at a small facet of the whole situation, then you are not going to be able to understand it. Carping about not being compared to countries like China just shows how clueless you really are.

    This is amusing for a while, then it gets highly tedious.

    Many Jews wear blinders made of their own presumed superiority. My mom had an expression for that, something about how no one is as clueless as the person who thinks they already know it all.

    I don’t mean to be rude, I just think you just missed the point of BDS, so I wanted to correct the record on that for you.

    • bob smith

      “It is not really BDS that you are fighting against, it is the basic idea of fairness”
      Fairness? What exactly are you talking about? Please, enlighten us.

      • sisterlauren

        I am talking about a world peace plan.

        Charles Krauthammer Admits What Senators Pushing Iran Sanctions Won’t: They Want War
        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/20/charles-krauthammer-iran_n_4634015.html

        “This deal is designed as much by John Kerry and Barack Obama to prevent Israel from defending itself by attacking these facilities as it was supposedly to prevent Iran from going nuclear.”

        According to Krauthammer, the “only thing” Israel can do to protect itself is attack Iran’s nuclear facilities.

        My bold. How is it fair for Israel to have hundreds of nukes while Iran is not allowed to have any?

        • bob smith

          you are delusional. would you rest comfortably if that were the case? your idea of peace without cost is irrational and historically incorrect. good luck, you need it. btw, you are taking his discussion entirely out of the context it was delivered in. nice try

        • defcon 4

          Maybe because the islam0nazi leadership and people of Iran are calling for the destruction of Israel, maybe because there exist “authentic” islamic hadith that call for the extermination of Jews, maybe because anyone non-muslim is persecuted in the islamic “republic” of Iran, maybe because iran is nothing more than a totalitarian islamic theocracy. But maybe I’m being redundant.

        • SCREW SOCIALISM

          How fair is it for Al Qada not to have nukes?

          sistaloozer, You are a dumbazz.

        • Drakken

          It is rather amusing to see that folks like you always are stacked up in mass graves. Peace with islam? You clearly do not understand human nature and rely on your feelings over common sense. I used to have sympathy for people like you, I am now all out of it for your bring tragedies upon yourselves and look completely surprised that it happens when it could have been clearly avoided.

          • defcon 4

            It’s always funny how many people still use the PC neologisms like “radical islam” or “islamist” here — as if there’s some sort of islam that’s magically “moderate” and “peaceful” being practiced somewhere and we just have to find it.

    • iluvisrael

      another useful idiot singling out Israel for demonization – tell us sis, what other countries do you bash?

  • sisterlauren

    Netanyahu Tells Kerry he will Grab 13% of Palestinian West Bank
    http://www.juancole.com/2014/01/netanyahu-kerry-palestinian.html

    • SCREW SOCIALISM

      Israel should do to the Pal-e-SWINIANS what Pal-e-SWINIANS proclaim they want to do to Israel.

    • Omar

      Really? You are citing Juan Cole? Juan Cole is an apologist for Islamist terror. Cite real sources instead of propaganda.

  • Matt McLaughlin

    OREN: …… unlike Great Britain that has a national church, we don’t have an official religion.

    http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1307/28/fzgps.01.html

    Jewish state = bs

  • Drakken

    It is suggesting that Israel surrender unconditionally to the Islamic savages in the hope that the muslims won’t slaughter them for their trouble.

    • bob smith

      Thank you, I was hoping the coward would openly admit her trolling ways and means. The big question I have is whether she was screened in order to act as a role model for girl scouts and do the parents of the children she mentors know of her lunacy? If not, they should because I would never let my daughters near an oblivious mental deficient as her.

      • sisterlauren

        I had a Muslim girl in my troop. She dropped out when her mom discovered I drink beer.

        I was really puzzled by that so I researched the culture and religion. Then when 9/11 happened, I knew Bush was lying. It s a long story, so there is no need for you to be so insulting.

        I’m not a coward. Not at all. I am a trained leader. I was also a troop organizer for years. That is why I was able to organize the Tea Party into something worth stealing.

        David Koch came to my house to meet me right before the election of 2010. I found out who he was two months later when he was asked what he thought of the Tea Party.

        • defcon 4

          Of course Aisha, of course you drink “beer”.

      • laura r

        how do you know who this person is? she could be writting from an insane asylum. its the internet, many “napoleans” here.

        • bob smith

          I do not know, I simply responded to the twits claim that she presented herself as a cub master, ergo mentor to young and impressionable adolescent females.
          I do not arrive here in search of absolutes but to share opinions and views and many times to deal with traitorous trolls as this twit. more direct to your question of “how do you know who this person is?” I will assume that was intended for sarcasm?
          otherwise, am I left to assume that you are gainfully employed in the role of the thought police and it is your imperative to screen for absolutes in so far as you deem them to be?

          • laura r

            when an internet “persona” seems over the top, i usually conclude that its mostly b.s. (no it wasnt sarcasm). one of the clues that someone is nuts is that they have a finger in every pie. i didnt read all her stuff. but the koch brothers paid a visit to a girl scout leader? what ever.

          • bob smith

            sorry Laura, you’ve lost me on the reference to the koch brothers.

            unfortunately, when you openly admit to commenting on someone’s response to a lunatic by referencing that you in fact did not read the lunatic’s comments is quite disturbing and frustrating. your conclusions of over the top and bs are derived from actions such as yours which are generally based on being uninformed but offering opinions none the less.

            that is definitely “one of the clues that someone is nuts is that they have a finger in every pie”
            try a little knowledge as a precursor to your burnt offerings. “what ever”…duh!

  • sisterlauren

    World peace.

    I told you I came up with a plan. It took me four months to do that. I have been live blogging it ever since.

    That was ten years ago, so we are talking about thousands and thousands of comments.

  • Ihartcanaan

    “There is a difference, however, between inviting individual students into the Hillel and hosting or providing a platform to a group that does not recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State.” What is a Jewish State? This article gives context:http://ht.ly/sklSY