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Open Hillel

  • Hillel must put Jewish diversity and social justice above Israel allegiance

    Just as Israel has banned BDS supporters from entering the country and demonizes those who show dissent, Hillel has sent a message to Jewish students that it only recognizes a certain type of Jew, and sees the rest of us as disposable. By Ally Fernandez I am exactly the kind of Jew whom Naftali Bennett thinks should not exist. I am a proud, Puerto Rican, feminist, Jewish woman of color who stands in solidarity with Palestine and supports the call for BDS. I am the product of an interfaith and interracial marriage, a strong Ashkenazi mama and an amazing Boricua…

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  • AIPAC protests showed American-Jewish activism at a crossroads

    Recent American Jewish protests marked an important step in interconnected, cross-border resistance to occupation and oppression. But in order to grow, the organizers must reach out to Palestinians — and to their elders. By Samuel Molnar On the last Sunday of March, 1,000 Jews, led by Jewish-American anti-occupation group IfNotNow, marched to the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) to sing, chant, pray and blockade its doorways. This moment represented an unmistakable opening in the battle to disassemble the machine of Israel’s occupation. It was a win. IfNotNow presented a united front of Zionists and non-Zionists…

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  • It's time for American Jewish institutions to embrace dissent

    In the age of Trump, American Jewish institutions need to include the majority of U.S. Jews who rejected his divisive rhetoric and give a platform to dissenting voices — whether they are speaking out against U.S. or Israeli government policy. By Ben Pakman The Jewish American people are entering what promises to be a tumultuous time under the Trump presidency. Our morals and resolve are being tested and, fairly or not, the rest of the world is observing us under a microscope. [tmwinpost] The most prominent American Jews — Trump cohorts like David Friedman (recently appointed as U.S. ambassador to Israel),…

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  • The American Jews prying open the conversation on the occupation

    The Jewish American establishment has been trying to dictate the confines of the conversation on Israel and Palestine on college campuses in the United States. One group of young Jews is trying to ensure their voices are being heard, despite the red lines being drawn around them, by leveraging communal pursestrings. By Tom Pessah On November 8, dozens of young American Jews traveled to Washington D.C. to participate in a groundbreaking protest outside the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America, where they protested the lack of support for young Jews who want to broaden the conversation around…

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  • Hey Hillary Clinton, Palestinian lives matter too

    You claim to support peace, but your words imply that Palestinian lives are less valuable to you than Israeli lives. I implore you: please do better. By Leanne Gale Dear Secretary Clinton, I have faith that you want to stand with the Jewish people as we work toward peace with the Palestinians. But your recent article in The Forward did exactly the opposite. [tmwinpost] You glorified Israel without mentioning its nearly 50-year-old military occupation and outlined how you plan to “reaffirm our unbreakable bond with Israel” without addressing its rightward anti-democratic spiral. This was a faulty political calculation, marginalizing a powerful progressive constituency…

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  • Just how open should Hillel be?

    It is sad, though not surprising, that some want to open Hillel just enough to let their own excluded group in. 'Just let J Street U in,' they say to the gatekeepers. By Jeremiah Haber Several years ago, when Richard Joel was the president of Hillel International, the goal of Hillel was formulated as “maximizing the number of Jews doing things Jewish with other Jews.” It was the notion of “doing things Jewish” that I liked, because that could be interpreted in many ways, religiously, socially, politically, recreationally, etc. Of course, playing basketball is not just a Jewish activity, and…

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  • 'As U.S. Jews, we need to figure out what leverage we have in ending the occupation'

    Amid the Gaza war this summer a group of young American Jews formed a new group, 'If Not Now, When?', which aims to challenge the American Jewish establishment's unquestioning support for the occupation. +972 sits down with one of its founding members to find out who the group is and what they hope to accomplish. By Tom Pessah For decades, American Jewry has been dominated by its own “one percent” – a small group of donors and unelected executives who lead organizations like the Jewish Federations of North America, AIPAC, the Anti-Defamation League and Hillel International. Recent surveys have shown…

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  • At Open Hillel conference, Jews demand their spot at the communal table

    By demanding their voices be heard, Open Hillel students are making dissent within the Jewish community impossible to deny. By Sarah Anne Minkin Hillel is the Jewish home for college students. With more than 550 Hillels worldwide, mainly in North America, it is one of the primary sites where young Jews express, explore, and cultivate their Jewishness. So a few years ago when Hillel International, the parent organization, imposed strict guidelines around engagement with Israel, many students were upset to find themselves facing formal prohibitions. After years of struggles within Hillels over who was in the “big tent” of Jewish…

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  • ‘Open Hillel’ seeks to redefine U.S. Jewish debate on Israel-Palestine

    A student-led movement is seeking to 'open' a prominent U.S. Jewish campus group to a broader range of voices, and it's gaining ground. This weekend, Open Hillel will seek to model an inclusive Jewish community that embraces marginalized voices.  By Naomi Dann “What’s wrong with conflict?” A professor once challenged me, a student of peace and justice studies and non-confrontational by nature. “Points of tension and moments of debate are productive, we learn from them.” This weekend, a student movement known as Open Hillel will host a historic conference that promises vibrant debate and plenty of conflict over the relationship…

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  • Fight intensifies over what can, can't be said about Israel in the U.S.

    Events are being cancelled and Jews are being 'blacklisted' at a troubling rate, even by pluralistic and non-denominational organizations. By David Harris-Gershon Several months ago, American journalist Sharon Jacobs received a message from the Washington D.C. Jewish Community Center that her ticket to my book event had been curiously refunded. The JCC had invited me to speak about my memoir, What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?, which recounts my reconciliation with the family of the man who perpetrated the 2002 Hebrew University bombing, an attack which injured my wife and killed…

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  • A house divided: Campus divestment reveals cracks within the American Jewish establishment

    How can a community which so highly regards deliberation and dissent demand such unwavering unity on what is, perhaps, American Jewry’s most controversial issue? By Roi Bachmutsky Uproar recently broke out regarding world-renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking’s recent decision to cancel his headline appearance at the fifth annual Facing Tomorrow Presidential Conference hosted by Israeli President Shimon Peres. Gil Troy penned an opinion piece in response, in which he argued that by boycotting the conference, “[Hawking] suggested that the dynamics of the conflict are mutually exclusive… to prove he is pro-Palestinian he had to act anti-Israeli.” My Facebook newsfeed is often filled…

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