Columbia/Barnard Hillel Sponsors Israel’s Illegal Occupation

on 20 Comments

The rightwing Israel lobby feeds on American youth. Young idealists must be recruited into the enterprise before they think to question Israeli policies.

Columbia/Barnard Hillel is housed at the handsome, new Kraft Center on W. 115th Street in New York, which bears the name of Columbia grad Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots. There is always literature on a table in the front hall.

Lately, one stack of cards promotes student lobbying in Washington in June, by the Zionist Organization of America. One thing they’re lobbying for is "the right of the Jewish people to all of historical Israel." (Their emphasis, not mine.) That means the West Bank. They don’t believe there is an occupation.

Nearby is another stack of cards for a three-week Torah study at Bat Ayin in "the Judean Hills." Bat Ayin is a religious settlement near Gush Etzion in the Occupied Territories (They don’t believe in the occupation either; their website makes no mention of it, while warning about the "the dangers of assimilation").

These cards demonstrate the degree to which mainstream American Zionist ideology is happily intertwined with messianic ideas that ignore or destroy the humanity of Arabs. Jimmy Carter is to be condemned, but these intolerant fellow travelers? Never. Imagine the response the nice kids in that Hillel would have to Christian efforts to sway certain American policies–say, against abortion. Horrors. Yet they give space to fundamentalists who contribute to the violence in the Middle East as surely as so-called Islamofascism. Some day Jews will look back on these efforts with shame.

20 Responses

  1. Richard Witty
    April 27, 2007, 12:28 pm

    Don't you think your headline was a bit different than the content of the post?

    They put out brochures of a religious program. How is that "Columbia Hillel Sponsors Israel's Illegal Occupation"?

    I thought you favored a society in which freedom of speech was accepted, and not subject to either state or PC litmus tests.

    Do you propose that those that practise religion be prohibited from communicating?

    Thats what it looks like from your post.

  2. Klaus Bloemker
    April 27, 2007, 4:20 pm

    practise religion ?
    Occupying and setteling Judea and Samaria IS practising religion (obeying God's commandment).
    BTW, the Likud charter defines the Jordan river as the eastern border of Israel.
    And – as any Jew knows better than I do – 'ALL of historical Israel' is way beyond the Jordan river.

    There is some deception in the use of the term 'Westbank'- put out to the western media – the Israelis themselves say 'Judea and Samaria' in official publications and speeches. Their language is their program.

  3. phil weiss
    April 27, 2007, 4:48 pm

    When people put materials in my front lobby, on a table set out for similar materials, that is a form of sponsorhip.
    When people advertise in a newspaper, the newspaper is in some ways responsible for them.
    What I'm saying is that organizations like Hillel have to specifically say, We don't want you speaking from our front door.
    Just because you're for free speech doesnt mean that someone can put their soapbox in my driveway. I reserve that privilege for the very few.

  4. Richard Witty
    April 27, 2007, 5:46 pm

    "my" front lobby?

    "When people advertise in a newspaper".

    I think that is frankly an opportunist way of defining what an organization that you are not part of should be.

    Are you sure you want that standard applied to you personally?

    Do you want your perspective to be litmus tested for every publication that you submit an article?

    I thought that was exactly what you opposed.

  5. Klaus Bloemker
    April 27, 2007, 5:59 pm

    This 'free speech' is hairsplitting –

    To advocate the 'right of the Jewish people to ALL of historical Isarel' is actually advocating the theft of land.

    But of course, God's commandment to take that land overrides any woldly property rights.

  6. Richard Witty
    April 27, 2007, 6:07 pm

    Is "free speech" hairsplitting to you?

    Do you want to be litmus tested in every venue, speaking or published?

  7. Larry
    April 27, 2007, 10:21 pm

    Doesn't the Oslo Accords enshrine the right of the Palestinian People to have a state on the land these organizations claim as a part of Israel? Many Jews and the Bush Administration condemn Hamas for not recognizing the Palestinian commitment to the Oslo agreement. What does it say that we as Jews do not condemn other Jews for not recognizing that agreement? If a jewish group asked Hillel to lay out its literature calling for a binational state in Israel and Palestine, I have a feeling Hillel would not swallow hard and allow that on the grounds of freedom of speech. They would likely say, "distribute your literature somewhere else."

    American Jews, in my experience, spend a lot of time talking about how intransigent the Palestinians are, how their unanimous goal is to destroy Israel. But they then express no concern about Jewish groups that want to expel or subjugate the Palestinians. It's wrong and self-defeating.

  8. Richard Witty
    April 27, 2007, 11:34 pm

    "But they then express no concern about Jewish groups that want to expel or subjugate the Palestinians. It's wrong and self-defeating."

    But that doesn't characterize the reality of the majority of American Jewish presentation.

    I went to a presentation by the David Project, a pro-Zionist organization, that many here probably know and object to strongly.

    The speaker though advocated for the Saudi proposal, with the interpretation of right of return as due process in courts (now denied by 1952 law).

    If you don't hear objection to subjugation, then you aren't listening closely.

    Even the terms of expressing concerns about persons or groups, rather than actions and policies, strikes me as creepy.

  9. Richard Witty
    April 28, 2007, 4:39 am

    How does one appeal to another's ethics?

    How does one convince another to change their behavior?

    By force of boycott? By force of condemnation?


    By example? By respectful dialog?

  10. Phil Weiss
    April 28, 2007, 11:24 am

    Richard, I agree, I think there are interesting lines to be drawn on free speech. Like: someone could come on my blog and say, I'm for expelling all Arabs from historical Palestine– or all Jews–and I wouldn't take their comment down. You might say I'd sponsored the comment, then, as I afforded the space.
    But then I'd probably speak out against it, too. And this is a blog, not a private institution that as Larry points out surely monitors the literature on the lobby table.
    I do think there are times that people have to be condemned. In the apartheid case, it took some shock to get those people to change. Like, sanctions.

  11. Klaus Bloemker
    April 28, 2007, 2:37 pm

    Amalek – Palestinians
    the settler's freedom of speech and religion

    The religious settlers equate the Palestinians with the biblical Amalek and see it as their religious practise and duty to act on the commandment to 'blot them out from the earth'- if not physically than at least as a nation.

    – According to a spring 2004 article in The New Yorker by Jeffrey Goldberg and taken up in Elliot Horowitz' book "Reckless Rites: Purim and the Legacy of jewish Violence", Princeton University Press:

    link to

    You know that Germany and other European countries outlaw the denial of the Holocaust – but to actually advocate one and couch it in religion was something new to me.

    When a Turk says 'there was no genocide of the Armenians', he implicitly says: 'something like that would have been terrible – but it did not happen.' At least there is some commen moral ground. But is here commen moral ground with the settlers The New Yorker interviewed?


    Frankfurt, Germany

  12. Richard Witty
    April 28, 2007, 3:34 pm

    It wasn't the people that needed to be taken down. It was the actions.

    The people needed to be lifted up, so that they had the room to change their actions.

    SOME of the religious settlers do regard this time as parallel to the time of taking Canaan following the Exodus from Egypt.

    The group that Phil posted about are also organic farmers and spiritual seekers.

    I like that they are attempting to actively love the land, as that is more a criteria for me of one's right to be there than ethnicity or changing definitions of property.

    Unless Phil knows the specifics of the group's actual actions, in condemning ALL associated with their brochure, he is generalizing grossly.

  13. Sid
    April 28, 2007, 5:18 pm

    I don't think this is going to play well either. People will wonder why these americans aren't signed up for the US military instead of the IDF..considering how short handed we are for troops in Iraq.

    link to

    The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) want a few good men like Zach Taylor (photo).

    Actually, the IDF wants a lot of them.

    Taylor is a 20-year-old volunteer from North Hollywood serving in an Israeli infantry battalion of Torah-observant and predominantly ultra-Orthodox soldiers.

    The unit, Nahal Haredi, plans to launch an advertising campaign during the summer in major Jewish newspapers in the United States to augment its ranks with more foreign recruits.

    Taylor is among the surprisingly large number of Americans, of all denominational and secular persuasions, serving in the army, navy and air force of the Jewish state.

    According to official government statistics, their number totals 14,250, of whom 4,419 serve on active duty and 9,831 in the reserves

  14. Klaus Bloemker
    April 28, 2007, 5:41 pm

    Sid's link is worth looking at.

  15. keen
    April 30, 2007, 10:54 am

    I find it interesting when people protest against brushing all Muslims/blacks/mexicans/germans with the same brush, but then have no problem doing the same the jews.
    Mr. Bloemker consistently tries to generalize the rather idiotic (IMHO) opinions of the ulta-orthodox minority to that of all Jews, when the truth is the vast majority of Jews have a very different perspective.

    It's very nice of Phil to give Mr. Bloemker this space to make these distortions, and since Phil does not protest them, according to him we should assume, I guess, that he agress with them.

  16. mobius
    April 30, 2007, 5:42 pm

    phil, many of my friends learn or have learned at yeshivat bat ayin.

    i have spent some time there myself and strongly considered learning there as well.

    i chose not to because i couldn't bear the thought living there at the expense of palestinian rights.

    this is an issue for many students there as well (many of bat ayin's students would self-identify as liberal/progressive), however they're willing to overcome their discomfort for the sake of the learning which, by all accounts, is among the highest anywhere.

    i often discuss this issue with my friends who live there or who have lived there. few are in favor of the occupation. most just want to be able to be in the hills outside of jerusalem studying torah.

    it's not that they "don't believe in the occupation" (which i take to mean that they don't believe it exists). rather, it's that they believe that making the compromise to learn at bat ayin, they can become greater advocates of and forces for peace in the world.

    seeing the outcome of their learning (ie., seeing how they engage with the world), i believe that they may have a point.

  17. Cesar
    April 30, 2007, 11:22 pm

    All Out for May Day Marches

    No to the Gutierrez-Flake bill

    We invite you to join us in the May 1st, MAY DAY,
    marches and actions to raise our collective voices to
    Stop immigration raids and deportations, stop the
    forced separation of our families, legalization for
    all, and no bracero-type contract programs.

    Lastly, we adamantly oppose the Gutierrez-Flake
    Immigration Bill, known as the STRIVE ACT, introduced
    last month by Congressmen Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and
    Jeff Flake (R-AZ). Our next eNewsletter will provide
    much more information about the STRIVE ACT by various
    sources which critique the legislation as deficient and
    dangerous to immigrants and working people.

    We encourage you to download the letters we have posted
    for your convenience, addressed to Senate Majority
    Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and
    circulate amongst your family, friends, and work-mates
    and forward these to the Democratic Party leadership.


    Mexican American Political Association, the Hermandad
    Mexicana Latinoamericana, the National Alliance for
    Immigrants' Rights, and many other immigrants' rights
    coalitions Declare the Gutierrez- Flake Immigration
    Bill as Unacceptable

    We call upon the California Democratic Party leadership
    to make good on its promise to pursue fair, humane, and
    rational immigration reform, which accords with the
    best interests of all immigrant communities and working
    people of America. The Gutierrez-Flake Immigration Bill
    (STRIVE ACT) falls extremely short and actually betrays
    the immigrants' hopes.

    – The supposed legalization provision provides no
    guarantee of permanent legal status, seriously delays
    by six to more years the temporary status, and thus,
    legal uncertainty, charges exorbitant fees, and
    demands an impractical "touch base and return"
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    "triggered" until a determination could be made that
    enforcement provisions had shown to be successful;

    – The "return to the end of the line" approach to
    process a permanent resident visa application could
    extend from five to twenty years depending on the
    country of origin;

    – The criminalization features of the Sensenbrenner
    Bill (H.R.4437) remain for those migrants with an
    unauthorized entry, thus adversely affecting
    principally Mexicans and Central Americans;

    – The more onerous interior enforcement measures will
    create a criminalized under-class, warehouse migrants
    for prolonged detention, and separate families;

    – Local police and DHS cooperation has been
    repudiated by law enforcement organizations throughout
    the U.S. as counter-productive to the goals of
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    If this is the starting point in the legislative
    process of negotiating and haggling for a
    "comprehensive" immigration bill this year, it bodes
    very poorly for the immigrant communities of America.
    You don't need to be a weatherman to see this tsunami
    of injustice coming down on our heads. We expected much
    better from Congressman Luis Gutierrez.

    We absolutely will not accept just any supposed reform
    as a way to turn to our constituency and declare some
    vague victory on immigration reform. This would be a
    major sell-out to the legitimate and reasonable
    aspirations of our community.

    President George W. Bush and Attorney General Alberto
    Gonzales have unleashed a repressive national
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    blackmail to force the immigrant communities to accept
    the White House immigration reform options to
    criminalize immigrants and a massive bracero-type
    contract program. However, the Gutierrez-Flake
    legislation is not far behind the Bush administration.


    Honorable Senator Harry Reid Senate Majority Leader
    U.S. Senate Washington, D.C.

    Honorable Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi Speaker of the
    House U.S. House of Representatives Washington, D.C.

    Dear Honorable Senator Reid : Dear Honorable Speaker

    I write you this letter to formally request that you
    immediately move to approve fair, humane and rational
    immigration reform legislation that accords with the
    best interests of all immigrant communities and working
    people of America. This is what you promised last year
    after millions of people took to the streets and
    opposed the H.R.4437 – Sensenbrenner Bill, when you
    called on the American voters to put the Congress back
    in your hands once again. The voters responded to your
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    promise to immigrants.

    Fair and humane immigration reform to me means the

    Legalization for all who are currently in the U.S. in
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    is an important start. And, this means permanent
    resident status without having to pass through a
    temporary residency period first. The cost to the
    applicant should not be excessive. In fact, the program
    should resemble the 1986 legalization provisions as
    much as possible.

    Employer sanctions should be repealed. They have proven
    not to work and only result in discrimination against
    persons of color and non-English speaking workers –
    this according to the Office of the U.S. Inspector
    General of the Department of Justice.

    Lift the cap on the number of available visas based on
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    backlog and address the challenge of future flows of
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    By awarding a corresponding number of visas to the
    demand, enforcement on the border would be relieved and
    the current resources applied to border patrol could be
    re-allocated to immigration visa processing and
    citizenship acquisition applications. The fees for such
    services could be reduced significantly, and not be
    increased as currently proposed.

  18. Gene
    May 4, 2007, 12:24 am

    Sid, do you know what percentage of the Americans serving in the Israeli armed forces are Jewish? Christian

  19. Chaim
    August 6, 2007, 7:12 am

    This guy is not Jewish – he is only pretending to be Jewish.

    Isn't there something dishonest about that?

  20. Some balance
    August 28, 2007, 1:49 am

    Just for some balance, having been to the building myself, they have had literature, speakers and active student groups who have called for a binational state and a withdrawal to 1967 borders. More literature reflected general support for Israel with some being particularly right wing. But it is incorrect to say that they don't allow those voices. There are probably more Jewish organizations that are right wing then left wing in the area, so they get more right wing material.

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