Swarthmore Hillel attendance spikes because of decision to invite anti-Zionists

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This is amazing. The Forward did what a newspaper is supposed to do and sent a reporter to Swarthmore to find out what’s going on there, and surprise, the Swarthmore Hillel board’s decision to adopt guidelines that would include anti-Zionist speakers has fostered a spike in attendance at the chapter. Hody Nemes reports that young Jews are not afraid of ideas!

“Hillel is attracting significant new Jewish membership as a result of this resolution,” said [Hanna] Kipnis-King…

“Swarthmore has a definite and distinct community of very, very progressive Jews,” [Jacob] Adenbaum said. “A lot of these people weren’t interested in being part of Hillel because of the fact that they didn’t feel their political views were welcome.”

The board’s decision has succeeded in pulling many of these left-wing students back toward Hillel. “We’ve had students who lean more toward the left who are coming out of the woodwork” since the decision, [Josh] Wolfsun said.

I keep telling Hillel to invite Max Blumenthal and Susan Abulhawa, but the Forward says that Hillel won’t be inviting anyone for a few weeks at least:

A delegation of Swarthmore students met with Hillel of Greater Philadelphia on December 16 to discuss the controversy, Adenbaum said. He was tight-lipped about the meeting’s outcome. “They seem to be really interested in dialogue,” he said. “I’m hopeful about the future.”

At the moment, Swarthmore Hillel has no concrete plans to invite anti-Israel speakers in violation of Hillel International’s guidelines. But that could change in the coming semester.

Meanwhile, insisting on the right of young Jews to be stupid, Tablet magazine runs a piece by Matti Friedman saying that Swarthmore Hillel should not be allowed to invite speakers who don’t support the Jewish state:

Does the principle of freedom of speech require Jewish people to host debate about the destruction of the world’s largest Jewish community?

He urges the censorship of anti-Zionism because it’s, well, genocidal. This is crazy:

“Anti-Zionism” is not a theoretical position, and Zionism is not a morality play. Israel is a real country full of real people, most of whom have nowhere else to go. Anti-Zionism in 2013 is the belief that this country should not exist – that it should, in some way, be made not to exist. It means that more than 6 million Jews who have found a refuge and a home here will have that home taken away, that a century of Hebrew culture will end, and that the entire Jewish people will go back to living by the whims of Muslim and Christian majorities.

Friedman concludes, “Hillel Houses exist to provide a safe intellectual space for young Jews on campus.”

I have no idea what that means– a space for ignorance?

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