Swarthmore Hillel and Hillel International are firing verbal shots across one another’s bows over the resolution by the Swarthmore chapter that it will hear anti-Zionists under its roof. Now Jewish Voice for Peace has come out strongly for Swarthmore Hillel (see below).
Swarthmore Hillel should now heed Obama’s lesson at the Mandela memorial, that words mean nothing next to action, and it should invite Max Blumenthal and Susan Abulhawa to speak on the Main Line campus. Both are young anti-Zionist writers who have important new books out: Goliath and My Voice Sought the Wind. Both are excellent speakers. (Watch Abulhawa demolish Dershowitz.)
Swarthmore Hillel should not seek to balance these writers with Zionist writers. No, it should put paid to its claim that young Jews are smart enough and sophisticated enough to hear a speaker and not turn into blithering parrots.
Swarthmore Hillel should rise to the occasion and firmly take its place as Jewish leaders. It should recognize that it is the University of Alabama in a generational conflict involving the Jewish version of Jim Crow (support for racial discrimination in Israel and Palestine). It should treat Blumenthal and Abulhawa as the Vivian Malone Jones and James Hood of intellectual manumission and bait the heavy, Eric Fingerhut, president of Hillel Int’l, to assume the George Wallace role and take his stand in the schoolhouse door.
Hillel Swarthmore’s stance will get international attention and help free all Jews from the orthodoxy of Zionism that has blindered our community for decades.
Hillel Swarthmore should heed the greatest words of its namesake, Hillel, his call to all people who dream of action but are afraid:
If not now, when?
P.S. Blumenthal has the added resume item of being Jewish, and Hillel serves the Jewish community. Abulhawa has the added resume item of being Palestinian, and American Jews are bound to Palestinians by the Nakba and the Israel lobby.
From Jewish Voice for Peace’s statement:
Rabbi Alissa Wise, co-founder of the Jewish Voice for Peace rabbinical council: “Swarthmore’s Hillel is the biblical Nachshon of our time–the first to take the step into the sea, trusting it will part to reach the shores of freedom. Though it is disheartening that so many campuses tolerate Hillel International’s repressive Israel guidelines, I am inspired by the bold defiance, the sacred chutzpah, of these students. Hillel is making a big mistake in writing off these students as irrelevant to the future or well-being of the American Jewish community.”
Cecilie Surasky, Deputy Director of Jewish Voice for Peace: “The
tides are changing. An October 2013 Pew Research Poll revealed that 89% of American Jews state that being strongly critical of Israel is compatible with being Jewish. If Hillel International insists on maintaining their intransigent policies, it will find that more and more Jewish students will either declare themselves Open Hillel <http://www.openhillel.org/>
or voluntarily exclude themselves from a group that does not welcome them.”