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How ‘Open Hillel’ created a new community by challenging the Jewish establishment

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Two years ago, Harvard’s Hillel chapter clamped down on dissent. The Hillel-affiliated Progressive Jewish Alliance planned an event with the Palestine Solidarity Committee to bring two anti-occupation Jews to America’s most elite institution. It would be under the roof of Hillel, the well-endowed organization that is at the center of Jewish life on college campuses.

Hillel leaders and donors pushed back hard because the Palestine Solidarity Committee supported the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement–a violation of Hillel International’s guidelines for what speakers they can host. Hillel’s leadership said that as long as the Palestine solidarity group co-sponsored the talk, it could not be held under their roof.

But instead of extinguishing dissent, Hillel’s move gave birth to a new movement, and a new Jewish community: Open Hillel. Created in the wake of the Harvard controversy, Open Hillel has grown around the country. Open Hillel aims to open up Jewish institutions, including Hillel and others, to frank discussion about the occupation with no red lines. Three Hillel chapters on liberal college campuses have declared themselves to be “open”–rejecting Hillel International’s guidelines that keeps out speakers who support BDS, among other restrictions.

Last weekend, hundreds of people, most of them young Jewish students, gathered at Harvard for Open Hillel’s first conference. They created a space where open dissent on Israel is welcomed and where conversation and debate is the norm. At the heart of the Open Hillel network is a conviction that Hillel should be a place that welcomes all Jews–not just those who follow the establishment line on Israel.

In a statement released as the conference kicked off, Rachel Sandalow-Ash, a Harvard senior, said hundreds of Jewish students convened “to create the Jewish community that we want to see–and to organize together to create change.”

College students, some wearing kippahs, others keffiyehs, filtered in and out of rooms with workshops on Palestine, race and gender in the Jewish community and how to challenge the power of donors.

The conference landed as more Jewish establishment leaders openly worry about young Jews’ disaffection from both established religious spaces and Israel. The assault on Gaza, on the minds of many Open Hillel attendees, has intensified this worry, with new Jewish groups like If Not Now popping up and older groups like Jewish Voice for Peace riding a wave of anger over the Israeli attacks. For Emily Unger, a Harvard student who graduated last year, the answer to the Jewish community’s angst over the future of American Jewry can be found in Open Hillel.

“We are running entirely on the passion and devotion of young Jews who are banging on the doors of the American Jewish community begging to be let in,” she said in a speech at the closing plenary. “For all the Jewish professionals out there who have been sitting around scratching your heads trying to figure out how to engage young Jews: here’s your answer.”

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Judith Butler and Penny Rosenwasser on a panel on anti-Semitism. (Photo: Alex Kane)

Judith Butler, the famous scholar, was one of the stars of the Open Hillel conference. Shut out of places like the Jewish Museum in New York for her views on Israel, Butler was warmly welcomed at Open Hillel. “There is no Jewish consensus on Israel…I mean, it’s dangerous to have dinner with a bunch of Jewish people right now, I’m telling you,” she said to laughter. “By coming here you do not have to agree to any particular view. But you do agree to hear them, to voice your views about them without the fear of censorship or retaliation.” Butler added that Open Hillel attendees were “in the midst of creating new communities of belonging.”

The space of belonging Open Hillel has created is far from a monolith. Open Hillel organizers say that is the point of their organization. Jewish Voice for Peace and J Street members are organizing, and debating, together. Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) members manned a table during the lunch hour’s “organization fair,” and some SJP members participated in the conference. The discursive battle over Israel was a centerpiece of the conference, though it took place largely on the left. (Right-wing groups were invited to the conference, but they did not show up.) While Open Hillel’s lack of consensus on action and boycotts of Israel rankles some left-wing activists, organizers of the conference say that having open conversation is a victory in itself. And those on the left flank of Open Hillel hope that having open debate on the Israeli occupation will swell their ranks.

Open Hillel has also become a space for deeply engaged Jews to work out evolving feelings on Israel. Many of the attendees are in the beginning phase of activism on Israel/Palestine. But they told me they have found a space of belonging in Open Hillel. Some have transformed from committed Zionists to critics of Israel. Others still consider themselves Zionists, albeit of the liberal sort.

Conference attendees caught a glimpse of the future of Open Hillel at the closing plenary, where organizers announced plans to step up pressure on Hillel. One plan is to declare more Hillel chapters “open” around the country. And Open Hillel organizers announced a new campaign to bring Jewish civil rights movement veterans–like Freedom Summer participants Dorothy Zellner, Ira Grupper and Larry Rubin, who spoke at the conference–to Hillel chapters.

Zellner and Grupper are outspoken critics of Israel, and cross Hillel International’s “red lines” that determine which speakers they can host. Open Hillel organizers say that Hillel-affiliated students will invite these activists to speak. That move will force Hillel’s leadership to turn away Jewish civil rights veterans–or open up their space to critics of Israel who are revered in the Jewish community.

Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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66 Responses

  1. Mooser on October 14, 2014, 1:15 pm

    “For all the Jewish professionals out there who have been sitting around scratching your heads trying to figure out how to engage young Jews: here’s your answer.”

    Strictly as a tangent, I love the un-ironic use of “Jewish professionals” in that sentence.

  2. John Douglas on October 14, 2014, 1:22 pm

    The two students with the black tees have my admiration. They are doing, in addition to their studies, exactly what students should be doing. All the emphasis on what job will students get after graduation obscures the fact that students have a job as college students, to apply what they have learned in an analysis of social issues, to push conversations beyond the narrow bounds in which they are invariably framed. The discussions at Open Hillel would never happen in the MSM because they are silently but intentionally excluded. This conference and others like it are grounds for optimism.

    • JWalters on October 15, 2014, 7:59 pm

      Agree completely. Finding out the facts and thinking for yourself is the main purpose of education. Otherwise we are condemned to be ignorant shills for the unscrupulous who will take advantage of us.

      Jewish Americans need to get past the emotional stories they were raised on and find out the facts. They need to stop reflexively defending Jewish supremacists and war profiteers.

      Central historical facts that are left out of the standard story are in “War Profiteers and the Roots of the War on Terror” at
      http://warprofiteerstory.blogspot.com

  3. American on October 14, 2014, 1:46 pm

    Good.
    And I hereby appoint the World Wide Congress of the Others as the official non partisan referees of the Open Hillels vr the Closed Hillels fight.

    As out first ruling we are calling foul on Closed Hillel for this rules violation of black listing objectors to the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

    Confronting Campus Scourge of Anti-Israel Venom
    There’s Nothing Wrong With Keeping Track of Biased Professors

    Read more: http://forward.com/articles/207179/confronting-campus-scourge-of-anti-israel-venom/#ixzz3G8pNJNSu

  4. David Doppler on October 14, 2014, 2:24 pm

    It’s the old difference between teaching how to think versus what to think, sometimes used by Anglicans to tout their prep schools over Catholic schools.

    It also reminds of the adage, know thine enemy. Even if you regard Palestinians as your enemy, nothing but benefit comes from getting to know them better.

    In terms of negotiation, knowing your opponent’s interests is always key.

    One can only conclude that certain aspects of the Jewish establishment have committed themselves to stupid thought control as their strategy for dealing with fall-out from Israel’s policies. And to take that strategy to elite academic settings! What could go wrong? How did these people come to power in the first place? How do they get replaced?

    • bryan on October 15, 2014, 5:50 am

      Well said David. Doubtless explains why so much Hasbara is pathetic and ridiculous. If you repeatedly visit Tel Aviv and Jerusalem but not Ramallah, if you refuse to speak to, or more importantly listen to, your opponents, if you retreat into a Zionist ghetto and shut yourselves off behind the intellectual equivalent of a separation wall, then you are unable to engage with the world or resonate with the young and open-minded. Eventually the dinosaurs will give way to nimbler and more adaptable species. Old-style Soviet thought control was undermined by the photo-copier and the satellite dish; there is no chance a generation later than an “internet Hagannah” can maintain ideological purity. The times they are a-changing.

  5. wondering jew on October 14, 2014, 4:34 pm

    Sounds like it could be called BDS Hillel that is willing to talk to nonBDS Jews, who by the very nature of the BDS Hillel will only be those who are on the left of Zionism. Maybe there is more interesting discussion in this overlap than there is in the tent of Hillel. But actually there is plenty of space to the right of BDS to make for interesting discussions as well in the other tent. Doesn’t strike me as false to have two tents, and the only ones who can participate in both tents are those on the left of Zionism.

    • Mooser on October 14, 2014, 5:44 pm

      Yonah, you are in favor of anything which give Israel time and space to get rid of Palestinians.

      • wondering jew on October 14, 2014, 5:51 pm

        mooser- I am in favor of new elections where a new spirit takes the Israeli public and they vote in a Tzipi Livni Avrum Burg government that negotiates a peace with the Palestinians by first establishing borders, and further steps to be imagined later. but this is not going to take place. while the current government is in place in a spirit that is not my own, I do not know how to react other than to say that I favor an immediate negotiation of borders between israel and palestine and the government and the masses of Israelis do not agree with me.

        and does this comment of yours have anything to do with open hillel or is it just as good an opportunity as any to cast aspersions in my direction?

      • oldgeezer on October 14, 2014, 5:59 pm

        good idea yonah. Just what Israel needs to move these negotiations forward. Another Israeli leader who hates international law.

      • wondering jew on October 14, 2014, 6:29 pm

        oldgeezer- sorry for mentioning livni. i wanted to inject a modicum of reality, but why muddle my hopes with reality when my hopes are not real. so criticize avraham burg and pretend i didn’t mention livni.

      • oldgeezer on October 14, 2014, 6:54 pm

        My comment was to point out that even many of those perceived as moderate, by Israeli’s, are a lawless group. Livni in particular has participated in oppression and is arguably a war criminal. And arguably a war criminal for her actions and not for just being part of the Israeli establishment.

        While’s he’s been in government before I would agree Burg is more moderate.

        To call it hope is silly. It’s more like a drug induced hallucination. Yet you claim you want to introduce some degree of of reality?

        The reality you injected is that such a government is not on the horizon. Israeli’s favour conquest over peace.

        The odds of a man (Burg) who said the following being able to walk around Jeruselem, even today, without a bodyguard are not very high. The potential for him to become PM is somewhere very close to nill.

        “Israel is no ordinary civil society. It defines itself as the Jewish state, it kills in the name of the Jews, it loves itself in the name of the Jews, it even loves itself killing in the name of the Jews. “

      • talknic on October 15, 2014, 12:21 pm

        @ yonah fredman

        ” I am in favor of new elections where a new spirit takes the Israeli public and they vote in a Tzipi Livni Avrum Burg government that negotiates a peace with the Palestinians by first establishing borders”

        What’s wrong with Israel’s existing borders? Those it was recognized by as requested by the Israeli Govt May 15th 1948. ” the state of Israel has been proclaimed as an independent republic within frontiers approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations in its Resolution of November 29, 1947,” Israel has not legally acquired any further territory.

        ” I do not know how to react other than to say that I favor an immediate negotiation of borders between israel and palestine”

        Uh huh. Why shouldn’t Israel withdraw from all non-Israeli territories as required by law? Why should the Palestinians relinquish any of their rights and rightful territory for the sake of Israeli demands that actually have no legal basis?

    • jimby on October 14, 2014, 7:24 pm

      O K Fine Yonah, So where’s the Israeli Gandhi?

      • wondering jew on October 14, 2014, 9:21 pm

        jimby- Heckling is a form of communication, a low form of communication. even fancy heckling (invoking gandhi) is still a low form of communication.

      • jimby on October 14, 2014, 9:58 pm

        actually Yonah, I am mocking the zionists who ask where’s the Palestinian Gandhi? You know that Israel has several Palestinian Gandhi’s under lock and key.

      • Mooser on October 15, 2014, 11:56 am

        “low form of communication.”

        Unlike muttering in a corner for paragraphs and paragraphs of broken syntax, intellectual dyslexia, Freudian slip-and-fall scams, and all through the warp and woof-woof of this whole cloth, (embroidered with pilpul and schmaltz liquor), runs a fools-gold thread of bigotry among the old.

    • ziusudra on October 15, 2014, 3:25 am

      Greetings yonah fredman,
      …those left of Zionism…..
      I chuckle as to how many adjectives Zionism can have.
      Left & Right are political Terms; Zionism is an ideology.
      Are there left & right Catholics in America, no just left
      & right Americans. It is boringly solipsistic to view oneself
      solely as Jewish in de universe as an existential premise.
      – There were Americans against the Vietnam war, period.
      There are US Citizens professing to Judaism that are against
      the State of Israel for ist aspirations of conquest, period.
      Having grown up with N.Y. Jews, i just don’t see anything
      unusual about Jews being against Israel, but still it’s heart
      warming to see them standing up. I personally empathize
      with your Input to stand up in debate for the whole picture
      of Israel, as you see it, but the disparity is so great in favor of
      the Falesteeni that it would be for me to side with the German
      Soldiers in 43, as to why they had to quell the problems in the
      Warsaw Ghetto & fell 600K! No non Neo-Nazi today would make
      such an arguement. Take care, mein Menschlicher freund.
      ziusudra

    • Xpat on October 15, 2014, 12:53 pm

      Yonah,
      “Doesn’t strike me as false to have two tents”

      Except that one tent is closed to the other, controls the money and bullies those it keeps outside its tent. Open Hillel OTOH graciously invited its detractors to participate in the conference. Some did, others did not. Their choice.

      ” and the only ones who can participate in both tents are those on the left of Zionism. ”

      Must be amazing to be able to dance at all the weddings. Live and let live. Both the bullies and their targets are legitimate options in your universe. But it’s not true. ” Those on the left of Zionism” i.e. J St is also barred from Jewish community institutions.

      • wondering jew on October 15, 2014, 6:23 pm

        Elliot- Those controlling the future of Israel (which currently is Likud) do not want to hear disagreement and this focus or inability to deal with other opinions is indeed troubling, particularly if it involves blindness to political currents, but also if it is blind to the suffering inflicted on the Palestinians.

        I don’t really think that the vast majority of BDS people are really interested in conversation with those who are anti BDS, but my opinion is based upon the reaction of people here in the Mondoweiss comments section. You, for example. When was the last time you got into a real conversation with anyone here that was a tad Zionistic?

      • Mooser on October 15, 2014, 6:51 pm

        “the last time you got into a real conversation with anyone here that was a tad Zionistic?”

        “A tad Zionistic”? Yonah, you are an artist at reducing words to meaninglessness. We should have a “real” conversation about it.

      • oldgeezer on October 15, 2014, 7:59 pm

        I’m curious as to what you think is worth discussing between pro BDS people and anti BDS people. I have zero interest in it for sure.

        All I want is for Israel to live within international law. The same law that applies to all people.

        All the other side wants to argue is why their special and should get a free pass on that.

        I’m willing to listen this once.

        Tell me what I should listen to.

      • oldgeezer on October 15, 2014, 7:59 pm

        they’re.. grrr… tried to hit stop in time.

      • Mooser on October 16, 2014, 5:17 pm

        “All I want is for Israel to live within international law. The same law that applies to all people.”

        The same law which has been already bent in their favor. Many times.

    • Xpat on October 16, 2014, 9:56 pm

      Yonah,

      In the spirit of trying to start afresh, I will give you my honest thoughts on your comment:

      “Sounds like it could be called BDS Hillel that is willing to talk to nonBDS Jews,”
      This is not fair on several counts:
      1. Open Hillel includes opponents of BDS
      2. you are missing a key issue. Open Hillel is committed to Interfaith. It talks to everybody, not just Jews. Palestinians and Israelis; Muslims and Christians.
      “Doesn’t strike me as false to have two tents, ”
      3. Open Hillel does not want to be pigeonholed. They want the Jewish community to be open. They would like nothing more than to disband. All it would take would be for Hillel International to decide to serve the entire Jewish community and not discriminate along political lines.

      “and the only ones who can participate in both tents are those on the left of Zionism”
      This reads to me as self-congratulatory snarkiness.

  6. wondering jew on October 14, 2014, 5:36 pm

    btw- the division of categories: middle east, israel/palestine, us politics, activism and features is not working. open hillel was featured last time in activism and this time in US politics. no logic and no consistency of definition of categories.

    there is no way to find out what new articles have been added to the site without going to all the categories. this is not efficient. pretty colors, but not efficient.

    • Mooser on October 14, 2014, 5:47 pm

      “this is not efficient. pretty colors, but not efficient.”

      I can well understand your objections, Yonah. If there is one thing your comments show a real devotion to, it is the efficiency and precision of communication.

      • wondering jew on October 14, 2014, 5:53 pm

        mooser- do you have a ph.d. in heckling or did you get bogged down in writing a dissertation?

      • DaBakr on October 14, 2014, 10:30 pm

        @yf
        no, he got bogged down dissecting Shecky Greene material back in the mid 70s and never really recovered.

      • Mooser on October 15, 2014, 12:23 pm

        “no, he got bogged down dissecting Shecky Greene material back in the mid 70s and never really recovered.”

        Ol’ Shecky had quite a bit to say about the efficiency and precision of communication. He was the one who said: “The medium is the massage, but I want the maximum!”

    • Rusty Pipes on October 15, 2014, 4:11 pm

      One way is to skip the front page and go straight to the Archives – October page: http://mondoweiss.net/2014/10. You’re welcome.

    • Xpat on October 15, 2014, 9:32 pm

      Yonah –

      “You, for example. When was the last time you got into a real conversation with anyone here that was a tad Zionistic?”

      You mean, besides you? I don’t know if conversations outside Mondoweiss count. But just in case they do, I had lunch today with a staunch J Street, liberal Zionist. The stated objective of our meeting was to discuss Israel, BDS and the like.

      The last time before lunch today was on Monday.

      I’m sorry but I don’t keep a record beyond the current week.

      • wondering jew on October 15, 2014, 9:58 pm

        Elliot- I am glad that you had a conversation with a J street friend this week. But I do not consider our interchanges to be conversations. Your proportion of snide remarks is too high for me to consider them as conversations. Maybe in person you are just as sarcastic, but maybe you have a smile to make your sarcasm palatable. but your smiles are not communicated in the text and the net effect is one of sarcasm and not conversation, playing to the crowd here and not talking to me.

      • Xpat on October 15, 2014, 11:05 pm

        Yonah –
        “But I do not consider our interchanges to be conversations ”
        I tend to respond to your wilder assertions, and that includes those in the comment section of this article. If you are going to make statements in a public space which denigrate others including the incredibly impressive folks of Open Hillel, you’ve got to expect pushback.

        If you find the response to your comments to be offensive then perhaps you shouldn’t post those kind of comments in the first place.

      • just on October 15, 2014, 11:11 pm

        Chock full of hubris, eh? Judging from afar, yonah?

        wow.

      • oldgeezer on October 15, 2014, 11:26 pm

        @yonah
        ” I am glad that you had a conversation with a J street friend this week. But I do not consider our interchanges to be conversations. ”

        Well… If you aren’t Netanyahu you are his clone.

        First you want to denigrate people. Then you complain about the need for talks. Then you want to talk about talks.

        Is avoidance the best you can do? Can anyone really expect you have anything useful to say in person,as a zionist, when do you everything to avoid anything substantive here?

        Don’t be insulted. I mean no harm. You give me many laughs each week.

      • wondering jew on October 16, 2014, 9:05 pm

        Elliot- Snark away if you must, if I give you cause. but don’t call it conversation. snark is snark. conversation is conversation. Next thing you know the dog who pees on my shoes whenever I visit will call that communication as well. Pee is pee, snark is snark and conversation is conversation.

      • Mooser on October 17, 2014, 10:47 am

        “Next thing you know the dog who pees on my shoes whenever I visit will call that communication as well. “

        That’s what I like about you, Yonah, your bravery! The way you say things directly, unafraid to face any canine or ruminant.

  7. W.Jones on October 14, 2014, 10:09 pm

    One of the more disconcerting things is that I don’t see a way to persuade otherwise seemingly leftwing pro-Israeli nationalists that they should not be crushing Palestinians, who are very persistent in defending the harsh treatment. I see Palestinians, including Christian villages, suffering while America backs it, and feel helpless. Meanwhile, strong nationalists inhabit Christian forums and constantly repeat a very harsh viewpoint favoring occupation and targeting Palestinians.

    They don’t really lay out, in my opinion, an open explanation of their motivations for their views since on other issues many of them are very left wing. They don’t say, for example, “I was raised this way, this is my community and nationality, and my culture tells me to very strongly support its nationalism when it’s in conflict with other groups or values.” What they will say is things like the nationality was persecuted without a state, it needs its own state, there are other nation states, there are liberals like Obama who support the state’s policies, Palestinians don’t exist, and Arabs are Islamists are medieval theocratic terrorists who have been making aggression since 1948.

    Explaining why some of those claims aren’t true doesn’t seem to do any good, as they will argue or ignore things ad absurdam. although they will occasional make “out of character” comparisons between Israeli policies and Jim Crow or conquering the Indians. Like Rabbi Buchdahl, they might not actually be well accepted in Israeli society because they don’t belong to the correct denomination or are Christian, yet they enjoy debating details as if it were a liberal debating the fine points of Civil War battles to free the slaves.

    For my part, I can explain that I am left wing and care about human rights, and don’t believe in occupying a population, particularly when it means singling out Christians for mistreatment. But that doesn’t seem to change their minds either. It’s like talking to a brick wall.

    Even if the UN imposed a 2SS, liberals in the media and politicians changed their tune like the UK parliament, or the state became more openly discriminatory and right wing, it seems like militant nationalists would still make the same arguments about how nationalism is good and Palestinians</strikethrough Arabs are bad, and support efforts to take over Jerusalem and defend/deny the Nakba and other state actions.

    So I don't know that there is an easy way to change the views of many of them. What do you think?

    • michelle on October 15, 2014, 1:54 am

      .
      might help if the world stopped funding every & all of this
      i doubt Israel has put one cent of their own money toward
      any of this
      prob. getting enough to tuck bits away for a rainy day
      .
      G-d Bless
      .

  8. michelle on October 15, 2014, 1:38 am

    .
    t-shirts walking talking thinking ‘billboards’
    in ‘your’ face’ here there & everywhere
    totally cool way to share the truth
    .
    loving the word ‘open’ too
    good word for ‘Israel’ to take to heart
    .
    Israel squatters/property thieves will never agree
    with any thing that will leave them homeless/jobless
    (aren’t they paid to live there)
    and the other Israel people might not think much of
    having the squatters as ‘next door’ neighbors
    which if true is too bad
    .
    the world can not wait any longer for Israel to do what is right
    justice can not wait any longer for Israel to do what is right
    Palestine can not wait any longer it must be free from Israeli rule
    .
    G-d Bless
    .

  9. Boomer on October 15, 2014, 7:43 am

    This incident at Princeton suggests that there is work to do:
    http://www.juancole.com/2014/10/stifling-princeton-university.html

  10. just on October 15, 2014, 9:11 am

    Open Hillel can hopefully discuss and combat ‘academics’ like this one before they infect US academia:

    “There are all sorts of varieties of insane extremists among the settlers. By “insane” I don’t mean that they’re aberrations from the Israeli norm. Just that in polite western society (not Israel, of course) these people would be viewed as nutcases and ignored. Only in Israel (and perhaps this happens in other religious extremist societies as well) are such people turned into prophets, prime ministers, and even esteemed academics.

    Such a one is Prof. Hillel Weiss, who teaches not Hebrew literature, mind you, a term he banned from his department–but rather the literature of the Jewish people. You see Hebrew is the language and literature of the Jewish people. There is no other. Yiddish? Feh, jargon. Jewish literature in English? Derivative, degenerate and a mark of the bankruptcy of galut.

    Professor Weiss teaches, where else, at Bar Ilan University. That’s also the home of such other wunder-mensches as Mordechai Kedar, who advocates raping Palestinian women as a deterrent to terrorism; and Gerald Steinberg, that convicted libelist who runs the fraudulent NGO known as NGO Monitor.

    Here is what Weiss posted on his Facebook page:

    Listen, Abu Mazen: you aren’t a people and therefore there can be no genocide [against Palestinians]. To exterminate you like a simple rabble is a mitzvah and it will be fulfilled finally despite the fact that the government of Israel still doesn’t accept its responsibility for raising mendacious international recognition of you [Palestine]. [This process] started with Begin ended with Gal-On. It contributed to the deception of the entire world and [increased] the popularity of these monsters [Palestinians] who rose up due to our weakness and lack of faith.

    The quicker you [Abu Mazen] can concede that you are not a people and that your place is nowhere within the borders of the land of Israel, the better off you will be…as long as you evacuate the country of your own volition.

    Weiss concludes his scholarly lecture with a reference to Deuteronomy 32:21, 43, which originally was meant as a curse against the pagan peoples who surrounded the ancient Israelites. But in the context in which Weiss invokes the verse, it’s deeply Islamophobic, essentially calling Islam a pagan, “villanous” religion. This is eliminationism of the purest sort:

    They have roused Me to jealousy with a no-god; they have provoked Me with their vanities; and I will rouse them to jealousy with a no-people; I will provoke them with a villanous nation…

    Nations, celebrate His people; for He avenges the blood of His servants, and returns vengeance upon His enemies, and atones for the land of His people.

    Prof. Weiss is also one of those blessed Judeans who’s planning to revive the Sanhedrin, so we can return to stoning Sodomites and adulterers like in the old days. He can also count himself among the Chosen who hope to raze the Dome of the Rock and replace it with the Third Temple, “God willing.””

    http://www.richardsilverstein.com/2014/10/14/israeli-professor-calls-for-palestinian-genocide/

    • Mooser on October 15, 2014, 6:54 pm

      You know, Prof. Weiss seems “a tad Zionistic”, doesn’t he? Why haven’t we had a “real conversation” with him. Not one of those false conversations, which are never any good.

  11. Kathleen on October 15, 2014, 11:11 am

    “Open Hillel has also become a space for deeply engaged Jews to work out evolving feelings on Israel. Many of the attendees are in the beginning phase of activism on Israel/Palestine. But they told me they have found a space of belonging in Open Hillel. Some have transformed from committed Zionists to critics of Israel. Others still consider themselves Zionists, albeit of the liberal sort. -”

    The growth and awareness that has grown over the last decade in the Jewish community on this critical issue has been outstanding. Everyone benefits…even Israel…ultimately. But on the ground the situation for Palestinians seems to have gotten even worse.

    Bet no one from the Athens Ohio Hillel attended this conference.

  12. hophmi on October 15, 2014, 1:01 pm

    It seems to have been an impressive conference. The question is whether these kids will have any influence in the long run. Their views are born mostly of lefty politics, not their activity in the Jewish community.

    The other question is how open Open Hillel is to hearing from Zionists. At Naomi Dann’s school, for instance, anti-Zionist speakers far outnumbered Zionist speakers during the past few years, particularly last year, when Vassar’s Hillel declared that it would be an Open Hillel. And, of course, campus SJPs essentially endorse banning Zionist speakers altogether. So I’m not sure this is Open Hillel as much as it is BDS/Lefty Hillel.

    • Mooser on October 15, 2014, 4:17 pm

      “The question is whether these kids will have any influence in the long run. “

      Nah, I doubt it. After all, being so much younger, they are bound to all die off before the generation of old Zionists. They, of course, will live forever.

    • Xpat on October 15, 2014, 5:41 pm

      hophmi:

      “Their views are born mostly of lefty politics, not their activity in the Jewish community.”

      The proof, if any is needed for this self-evident conclusion, is that the Open Hillel motto (printed proudly on their official red T-shirt) is a quote from, and attributed to the foundational Marxist tract: Pirkey Avot.
      Socialist kippot, radical beards, communitarian arba minim, even progressive Democratic payot were proudly on display at the conference. The rabbis who participated were all dispatched from ‘lefty politics’ central.
      All you need is the right spectacles to see the obvious lefty context of these symbols.

      Glad to hear ‘these kids’ earned your patronizing respect, hophmi.

  13. just on October 15, 2014, 1:08 pm

    “The question is whether these kids will have any influence in the long run.”

    “These kids” are the present and future.

    The “Leftys” will always prevail over the self- righteous.

    Zionism is a most odious ideology. Outdated and extremist.

    • hophmi on October 15, 2014, 1:46 pm

      ““These kids” are the present and future.”

      Not too sure about that. They are far, far, far outnumbered by Orthodox kids who have a commitment to Judaism that goes beyond Israel politics.

      • Mooser on October 15, 2014, 4:20 pm

        “They are far, far, far outnumbered by Orthodox kids who have a commitment to Judaism that goes beyond Israel politics.”

        Anotherwords, you are counting on them to be extremist bigoted intransigent Likudniks, even if Israel moves to “the left”? Because they are Orthodox? Very revealing, Hophmi.

      • Mooser on October 15, 2014, 4:24 pm

        Of course, the idea that the “Orthodox kids who have a commitment to Judaism that goes beyond Israel politics.” could become disgusted with or against Zionism because of it, well, that isn’t even worth discussing, is it, Hoph.
        I mean, it is to laugh! What kind of a “commitment to Judaism that goes beyond Israeli politics” doesn’t include intransigent, expansionist Zionism?

      • just on October 15, 2014, 5:21 pm
      • wondering jew on October 15, 2014, 6:16 pm

        mooser sits up in the pacific northwest and the last time that he spoke to an orthodox jew under the age of 21 is 40 years ago and he is casting aspersions.

      • just on October 15, 2014, 6:24 pm

        Link? Proof?

        Pathetic even for you, yonah.

      • Mooser on October 17, 2014, 10:53 am

        “mooser sits up in the pacific northwest and the last time that he spoke to an orthodox jew under the age of 21 is 40 years ago”

        She may have been “under the age of 21” but she was damn well over 18. And the kid is not my son!

  14. Mooser on October 15, 2014, 6:26 pm

    “and he is casting aspersions.”

    You are right, I should be more careful, Yonah. After all, didn’t Cleopatra die from that?

    So you agree with Hophmi that the purpose of an Orthodox Jew is to become a committed Likudnik, and we can count on all the kids to become extremeists, too? Who is “casting aspersions”?

    • wondering jew on October 15, 2014, 6:51 pm

      mooser- I’ve reread hophmi and he did not use the word likudnik once.

      but you’re right, there will be those who will abandon their Judaism amongst the orthodox and also those who will see Israel as something negative and there will be those who back liberal zionism and far too many who back likud and parties further to the right than likud and your ignorance regarding these jews should not preclude a probabilistic assessment of their political loyalties over the long range.

      • Mooser on October 15, 2014, 6:59 pm

        So you think that Orthodox Judaism education is the guarantor, if you will, of Zionism?

      • Mooser on October 15, 2014, 7:10 pm

        “and your ignorance regarding these jews should not preclude a probabilistic assessment of their political loyalties over the long range.”

        It sure didn’t preclude you or Hophmi from doing it, did it?

        And BTW, quite instructive how both of you purposefully and willfully mix up a commitment to Judaism and a commitment to Zionism. Let alone to the most intransigent facets of Zionism.

  15. Mooser on October 15, 2014, 6:29 pm

    Yonah. I’m the one saying those Orthodox kids have more possibilities. But as you say, you know better. I will bow to your superior knowledge of the subject.

  16. Horizontal on October 19, 2014, 6:49 pm

    As one totally ignorant of the inner workings of Hillel, what is the structure? Is there pressure that can be exerted by the parent organization against an Open Hillel chapter besides saying, “Tsk, tsk, you can’t do that?” Are there any economic considerations/pressures?

    • Mooser on October 20, 2014, 1:05 pm

      Horizontal, the “about ” page at the Open Hillel website explains their organization and intent.

      http://openhillel.org/about.php

      • Horizontal on October 20, 2014, 6:44 pm

        Thanks for that link. Just what I was looking for.

      • Mooser on October 21, 2014, 11:31 am

        They have picked themselves a tough job.

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