How open should campus Hillels be? This is not a trivial question, and should be treated seriously now that the Swarthmore Hillel student board, in line with a national group called “Open Hillel,” voted to defy Hillel International’s guidelines by opening their doors to anti-Israel speakers and groups.
A broad tent is not an open tent. Hillels, for instance, do not allow groups promoting the missionizing of Jews to speak and worship in their facilities. The reason is clear: missionaries seek the destruction of the Jewish religion. The same holds for the advocates of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, which seeks the destruction of the Jewish state.
…Open Hillel has a political agenda. It is a partner with the anti-Israel Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), which seeks to gain entry into Hillels across the county to mainstream the BDS campaign against Israel.
There are good reasons why JVP is not welcome at Hillels. At a Stanford forum last May, JVP’s executive director described her group as being “the Jewish wing of the [Palestinian solidarity] movement” and in that role “it is very important to think sort of how we plant a wedge” within Jewish community institutions regarding Israel.
For many within JVP this lack of relevancy about Israel is likely why JVP is officially “agnostic” on Israel’s existence. In the face of the annihilationist and overtly anti-Semitic ideologies of Hamas, Iran and its proxy Hezbollah, this agnosticism coming from a Jewish group with respect to Israel’s existence, and thus the safety of millions of Israeli Jews, represents a gross moral failure.
…By embracing Open Hillel, they also hold close JVP and its lack of commitment to the Jewish people’s right to sovereign equality. International Hillel’s decision warning the Swarthmore students that they may not use the Hillel name if they pursue their policy is a correct one. Hillel will not become a party to the global delegitimization activists who seek Israel’s demise and who put Jewish lives into peril.