Thursday, January 02, 2014

Why does Hilel hate Naturei Karta?

 Swarthmore’s Hillel group decided not to abide
by guidelines prohibiting collaboration with speakers
 or groups deemed unsupportive of Israel.
On 12/28 the Times ran a story about how some Jewish college students are bothering Hillel, the Jewish student group, to list the ban it has placed upon anti-Zionist speakers and organizations.

Hillel, of course, is deluding itself if it thinks it can produce a workable definition of "anti-Zionism."

According to some, Kesuvos 111a is anti-Zionist; others say the Labor Party's whole platform meets that definition. Does Hillel intend to ban Daf Yomi and discussion of Israeli politics|?

Still, the threony problem of criteria aside, I respect the organizations right to place limits on what it sponsors and hosts. At the same time, I think the students are correct to push Hilel to better reflect their values and interests. This is a Hilel issue, and one that should be worked out by the organization's members and directors. They, not us, are the ones who get to decide what Hillel is. (Though, of course, we're free to tell them why that decision is right or wrong.)

In fact I would not have said anything about this at all, were it for the response letter Avi Shafran got published in the Times:
To the Editor:
I'm neither an “Israel right or wrong” person nor a supporter of what has come to be called “the Palestinian cause.” But one question keeps coming back to me when I read about objections to decisions by Jewish campus groups not to invite speakers hostile to Israel: Where is the push for Arab campus groups to roll out their red carpets to unabashed defenders of the Jewish state?
New York, Dec. 30, 2013
Avi seems to think that the newspaper and the imaginary coterie of liberals who control it are "pushing" Hillel to change its policies, but as the article makes clear the push is coming from inside Hillel itself. No outsider is telling Hilel it must change. Hillel's own members are the ones desiring change. Arab student groups, presumably, don't invite "unabashed defenders" of Israel to speak at their events because their members aren't interested.

No comments: