Monday, July 15

Submission: Hillel should abandon Standards of Partnership to become more inclusive


Hillel is an international organization that prides itself on its mission to “enrich the lives of Jewish students,” and is considered by universities to be a religious organization. However, the reality is that Hillel International’s Standards of Partnership with Israel, which local Hillels around the world must adhere to in order to receive support from the umbrella organization, politicize Hillel and exclude a multitude of Jewish students and speakers.

In response, a student-led movement called Open Hillel has come to rise, and its goal is to persuade Hillel International to abandon its Standards of Partnership so that diversity in Jewish opinion is welcomed rather than censored.

On its website, Hillel International claims that it “welcomes a diversity of student perspectives on Israel and strives to create an inclusive, pluralistic community,” but the reality is far different. Hillel’s Standards of Partnership with Israel express a refusal to “partner with, house, or host organizations, groups, or speakers that as a matter of policy or practice” support nonviolent measures such as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement or deny Israel’s so-called “right to exist” as a Jewish state. These two statements are squarely contradictory.

Imagine a Jewish speaker that supports the “one-state solution,” which would constitute a secular, multinational state inclusive of both Israelis and Palestinians. Though some would consider the opinion overly optimistic, it would not make the speaker any less Jewish. However, under Hillel’s Standards for Partnership, that speaker would not pass Hillel’s Jewish litmus test and would be unwelcome.

A more specific example was found last year at UCLA, when Rabbi Brant Rosen was invited to speak. Rosen is a UCLA alumnus who was active in Hillel during his tenure here. Since graduating, he has become increasingly critical of Israeli policy towards Palestinians and when he came to speak at his alma mater, Hillel refused to promote his event, likely because he supports the BDS movement.

Is Rosen not Jewish enough to receive Hillel’s support? And this is not an isolated event. Primarily Jewish student groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace chapters on campuses across the country are systematically denied support from Hillel because they advocate for BDS.

In 2014, for example, Hillel rejected Jewish Voice for Peace at UCLA’s membership application because it disagreed with the group’s political positions, as per Hillel’s Standards of Partnership. Why are these Jewish voices excluded from the so-called center for Jewish life on campus? It is one thing to disagree with those that advocate for BDS, but the Standards for Partnership do not even allow these opinions to be presented to the students within Hillel.

Recently, Open Hillel announced the 81 members of its Academic Council, which is composed of professors who urge Hillel to abandon its Standards of Partnership. Professor Todd Presner, director of UCLA’s Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies is among two other UCLA professors, David Myers and Sarah Stein on the council.

As Presner states, “Open Hillel is a profoundly Jewish movement rooted in Jewish traditions of debate, ethics and justice. It seeks to re-instill these core values into campus discussions of Israel-Palestine in ways that are open, honest and challenging – precisely what a university should be doing.”

Open Hillel is not advocating for a political position but rather calling for uncensored discourse surrounding Israel-Palestine. Hillel can either serve the entire Jewish student body or enforce its political viewpoints against criticism of Israel, but it cannot do both.

We urge Hillel to abandon its Standards of Partnership because so long as they are in place, Hillel becomes a political organization rather than a religious one and ought to edit its mission statement to read: “enriching the lives of Jewish students except for those who hold certain political positions regarding Israel.”

Two Jewish speakers are coming to UCLA on Wednesday, but Hillel will likely not advertise the event, as neither of them pass its litmus test. The two speakers are Max Blumenthal, a Jewish journalist, and Miko Peled, an Israeli author. Both speakers have traveled extensively throughout the Palestinian territories and have incredible insight to the struggles faced by Palestinians day in and day out.

The exclusion of their voices from Hillel makes hearing their perspective all the more important, so we invite all students and faculty to come, listen, agree, disagree, and ask questions about the perspectives of the speakers on Wednesday at 6 p.m. in Room A65 of the Humanities Building.

Peled is a fourth-year student and president of Jewish Voice for Peace at UCLA.

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  • Aaron Lerner

    Eitan – over the weekend, leaders of your group assaulted gay-rights activists in Chicago. Why? Because they are gay Israelis. “Zionist, Racist, Mother F’ers” they were called. The action, seen in the video below, contradicts everything you have said here. Scroll to minute 3:45 and watch protesters from your group refusing to allow a speaker to say anything without being screamed down. Look at the way these protesters consistently deny our Jewish indigenous rights and UN resolutions establishing the state of Israel as they call for our destruction, chanting “Palestine from Sea to Sea”. Ask yourself: Do you actually hold the values you propose above? If so, I would suggest you reconsider your affiliation with JVP. Hillel is, in fact, already an open and diverse community, which we will demonstrate that in a forthcoming response. In the meantime, I would encourage anyone reading to ask: do these protesters demonstrate Bruin values? Does excluding the LGBT Israeli community and shouting down its members reflect Eitan’s demand that “diversity in Jewish opinion is welcomed rather than censored”. No community ought to be forced to allow the presence of bullies like these in its midst. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rz4KkvvjBB8

    • freespeechlover

      This is a bald faced lie. Stop repeating it. Or you’ll be a liar too.

  • garyfouse

    JVP is an anarchist group dedicated to the destruction of Israel. They do not believe in free speech for supporters of Israel. When Rachel Roberts, Matan Cohen and Estee-I can’t recall her last name-came to UCI a few years ago, they stated that supporters of Israel should not-should not- be allowed to feel comfortable on campus. This is the same bunch that disrupted Neyanyahu’s speech in New Orleans a few years ago.

    I am not a big fan of Hillel at least the Orange County chapter, and I am not Jewish, so I don’t have a dog in this hunt. If they want to let the termites in, that is their call. But let’s recognize this Open Hillel movement for what it is.

  • M2000

    Leftists are the ones whom are inclusive. Stop lecturing non-Leftists.

    • mls31286

      M2000 – Not sure whether you misstated but Leftist are the ones supporting BDS – Boycott – as do not include. As in not-inclusive.

      As Aaron Lerner says above, Israeli’s supporting Gay Rights were driven out of the LGBT event just because they are Israeli. These are Israeli’s that have nothing to do with other politics These are liberal Israeli’s against the occupation.

      • freespeechlover

        You are repeating a lie. Stop it.

        • mls31286

          Way to be specific. What is the lie I’m repeating and what evidence or logic shows it’s a lie?

  • avner

    BDS and “one-state” is not ‘criticism’ is openly calling for the removal of israel…so why would those people been as jewish as anybody else receive support for those that they want to destroy?…there is a trick in the article and is the use of “jewish” as a identity card…it isn’t.

    and if they already created their movement…their point of messing with Hillel is purely PR and political.

  • mls31286

    Eitan Peled: Right now college campus’ are filled with Anti-Israel hate. There are many pro-Palestinian organizations that won’t even let someone speak unless they speak bad about Israel. Even mainstream organizations that have nothing to do with Israel (American Studies Association and MLA) are passing boycotts without any debate. We just saw what happened at Kings College in London (Israeli speaker that had to be escorted out due to chairs being thrown at windows, yelling and fire alarms being pulled), we saw what happened at the LGBT event, we saw a girl get asked how being a Jew affects her ability to serve on a student government

    Now you want to take the one place a pro-Israel student can feel comfortable and potentially take it away from them. I would agree with you if the Anti-Israel crowd were not so hostile and deceiving with their points of view. Further, I would agree if the other side was open to debate in any way at all – all the Anti-Israel side does is scream and yell slogans while drowning out real debate. Hillel would happily hold a debate between Alan Dershowitz and Omar Bargouti or any pro vs. anti.

    It’s very sad that there isn’t a safe enough environment for Pro-Israel supporters on campus. Most Hillel’s are opening to differing points of views – but given the hostility towards Jews and Israel right now – views that are openly hostile to Israel and advocate any type of BDS are harmful to the Jewish diaspora and Israel.

  • Judge Jeph

    Eitan, you and your relatives and friends who want to see Israel destroyed are welcome to your opinions, and to proclaiming your suicidal intentions in all manner of media. This is true in the United States and in Israel itself. Being barred from official Hillel events and not having Hillel promote your self-hating rhetoric and positions is not because of your so-called “Jewish litmus test.” The Hillel Standards of Partnerships aren’t about anyone’s Jewishness. They are about what you so plainly call, in your own words, “Israel’s so-called “right to exist”.” When you deny the right of ANY people’s national homeland to exist as such, there is no reason for an organization that seeks to be a safe place for those people to allow you to use its facilities.

  • SamXie

    Eitan, will JVP ever host a Zionist? Will SJP? No- they will not, and when i’ve asked, I’ve been told that its “normalization” and its rejected without consideration.

    When you won’t open your doors to opposing opinions, why do you expect the Jewish community to open its doors to you?

    Do you expect the Jewish community to host Jews for Jesus? Where would you draw the line?

  • ModernMaccabi

    What a completely naïve op-ed and author. Can or should a Jew that supports Israel join SJP or the Muslim Student Union? Of course not. Their views are diametrically opposed. Hillel, rightly so, supports Israel which is the only Jewish state. It should not be forced to admit those, like the author, that supports the destruction of Israel, which is what the so-called one state solution would do. And for what it is worth, Max Blumenthal and the “Jewish Voice for Peace,” are Jewish in name only. They are both extremely anti-Israel and, in my opinion, anti-Semetic in that the continually argue for the destruction of Israel, which is the only Jewish state.

    • Andee

      So your solution and call to make things right because the jews have suffered and have been persecuted is persecution of the indigenous people? And so what you are saying, regarding Max and the Jewish Voice for peace, someone can’t be jewish in faith and not be supporting of the government of their “state”? if you are jewish you must have the same views and political thoughts?

      • ModernMaccabi

        Let me break this down in parts:
        – “Persecution of indigenous people…” Jews are indigenous to the region too. Most were expelled, but some remained. And lets be real, the security restrictions on Palestinians/Arabs are not just in place to oppress them. They are due in large part to the Arab’s repeated wars, attempts to kill Jews and destroy Israel (e.g., Arab riots in 1920s, wars against Israel in 1948, 1967 and 1973, countless terrorist actions throughout the world, the First, Second and now Third Intifada, etc…) . I believe that an equitable solution could be reached if Arabs gave up their fanatical desire to oust the Jews, but sadly that isn’t realistic.
        – “Max and Jewish voice of peace can’t be Jewish in faith and not be supporting of the government of their ‘state’” That is not what they or I am saying. Indeed, if you read Max Blumenthal and follow Jewish Voice for Peace you will see that it isn’t that they are against the government, they are against the very existence of the State of Israel. Their position is that the entire country is “occupied” and that the only just solution is to end the State of Israel. Likewise, if you closely examine the goals of the BDS movement you will see that their number one goal is to “end the occupation of ALL ARAB lands.” Without getting into the fact that Israel/Palestine was not “Arab land” prior to 1948, but actually part of British Mandate, Ottoman Empire, Persian, Byzantine, Greek, Roman, Judean, etc.., this goal would require the expulsion of Jews from the entire country, not just territory captured in 1967. With regard to whether or not they are Jews, I believe that any Jew that seeks and supports the persecution and expulsion the Jewish people from their ancestral homeland is either horribly misguided or traitors to their own people; something akin to a Jewish Uncle Tom.
        – “If you are Jewish you must have the same views and political thoughts?” Absolutely not. Jews have all types of religious, cultural, political and other views and political thoughts. Debate and critical thinking are very much a part of being Jewish. However, calling for or the destruction of Israel, which is once again the only Jewish state and the last refuge for an overwhelming number of Jews from around the world who have been persecuted, goes over the line as far as I and many other Jews are concerned.

        • Andee

          I disagree. its not the last refuge of jews from around the world. Jews seem to be one of the most protected groups around the world, and especially in the united states. every person who tries to defend israel cries persecution (and indirectly is referring to holocaust) as an excuse for the occupation/foundation of the state, whatever you may call it, and any mention of persecution is set to shut people up, because how can you ever say anything against persecution? it makes you a horrible person.
          making claims that the only safe haven for jews is in israel, is not correct. but no matter what I say, it won’t change your views. And any jew that seeks and supports the “persecution and expulsion of the jewish people from their ancestral homeland” – again, a jew isnt allowed to have any view point that goes against the “common view”? does everyone have to be a staunch supporter? i guess you have just been surrounding yourself with others who only have the same view as you, and aren’t open to hearing the other views. i know there are israelis who LIVE in israel who don’t agree with what is going on either, so what do you have to say about them? are they traitors too? you are going too overboard with your strong statements and sweeping generalizations about jews and their views.
          theres really no use in trying to combat your comments, because you only see your opinion as the correct one, so I am agreeing to disagree. you aren’t willing to listen to or understand other’s opinions or views, and you aren’t open to understanding how others might be thinking about it. the end.

          • ModernMaccabi

            You clearly have not learned about the plight of the hundreds of thousands of Jews that were forced to flee Arab lands, have not been paying attention to how Jews are currently being treated in Europe and are clearly following the anti-Israeli playbook in your attempts to minimize the absolute horrors of the holocaust. I would say shame on you, but you have none.
            Jews are allowed to have their own viewpoints in my view. But I find it odd and a complete farce that you think that some Jews in Israel believe in the destruction of their own state which is the goal of the BDS movement and groups such as the so-called Jewish Voice for Peace. And if you doubt that, just honestly ask yourself what does “Free, Free Palestine” and “Palestine Will be Free, From the River to the Sea” really means? When you boil it down and examine them you can only come to the conclusion that chants and expressions don’t seek a two-state solution — they seek to get rid of the Jews.
            I am always willing to engage in a honest debate about history and the development of the Zionist movement and the state of Israel. Unfortunately, you and others like you always seem to want to resort to tired old rhetoric bereft of any facts.
            So I say, once again, Shalom.

  • Justice Not Propaganda

    Complete pile of propaganda. No surprise coming from JVP, and organization that uses the word Jewish in its name to hide the fact that its entire agenda is anti-Semitic. So, Hillel should be more inclusive? Tell me, are you willing to suggest that UCLA should be more inclusive by reaching out and targeting white supremacist racists to bring to campus? Why not? Shouldn’t their viewpoints be heard, too. How can you claim to be inclusive if you’d want to shut those people out of the conversation? When you’re ready to argue that UCLA should admit and provide a forum to people who argue that blacks are inferior to whites, then perhaps I’ll consider that Hillel should admit anti-Semitic racists into their fold.

  • freespeechlover

    BREAKING Hasbarists take over Daily Bruin webpage. More at 10.

    • ModernMaccabi

      You can call spreading the truth whatever you like. It is still the truth. Shalom!

  • Beer Baron

    Open Hillel is an organization filled with anti-semites and anti-zionists. It is a disgusting organization filled with disgusting people.

  • Beer Baron

    On a side note, I did some Google research on “Jewish Voice for Peace” and found out that it is listed on the ADL’s top ten list of anti-Israel organizations. What an honor!

  • Andee

    These comments are missing the point.
    If hillel represents the jews on campus, why are jews with opposing views left out? that, my friend, is DISCRIMINATION based on political view. no matter what you say, it is discrimination.
    being zionist should not be equated with being jewish, because i know a lot of jewish students who do not agree with what is going on in israel. anyone who says anything against israel is considered anti semitic – do you even know what the word SEMITIC means????? as a middle easterner, i am also a semite. does this broad definition of antisemitism protect me? No. it is so focused and biased towards any language that criticizes israel. if we criticize the american government, does that make us anti american? you do know you are allowed to not like the way your government is run. is that a preposterous thought that I thought I could formulate my own opinions about my government without some kind of consequence for just having those thoughts? its ridiculous and very hypocritical for all of these “opinions” saying that jewish students on campus who are pro-israel feel unsafe – how about the students who are pro-palestine feel unsafe? I dont feel safe talking about my opinions and side because of fear of being labeled and condemned as an antisemitic person. this back and forth is getting out of hand, and just as you all want to be heard, you should at least respect the opposing view just like you want your opinions to be respected. there can never be any change if everyone is always just fighting and bumping heads and unwilling to LISTEN to others.

    • ModernMaccabi

      Would you feel better if the term anti-Semite, which for many years has been popularly used to describe those against the Jewish people, was changed to anti-Jewish? Talk about missing the point completely! The point being that Hillel supports Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. Its pretty simple, really. Jews who do not support Israel can join other like-minded organizations such as JStreet or SJP for that matter. This isn’t discrimination, it is an attempt to retain the character of Hillel. Indeed, should SJP be forced to change its platform and welcome students who support Israel or do not want a Palestinian state? Of course not. Likewise, should a student Christian group be forced to accept atheists or those that preach against the teachings of Jesus Christ? No. Or should a group that advocates for Civil Rights and inclusion be forced to accept a racists or homophobes who preach against inclusion or equal rights? Of course not. That would be ridiculous on its face.

      • Andee

        Not anti-jewish, but anti-Israel, cuz in reality, that’s what it comes down to.

        • ModernMaccabi

          That’s like saying “Not anti-American, but anti-America.” Cuz in reality, that is what you are coming down to. Indeed, Israel is the only Jewish state in the world.

          • Andee

            yes, it is the only jewish state in the world. and also the only country in the world founded upon a religion. theres a reason why in most governments there is a separation of church and state.

          • ModernMaccabi

            Being Jewish is far more than just a religion. It is a group of people and a culture that has survived for thousands of years. You clearly do not get it.