Sunday, December 15, 2013

Swarthmore College and the Question of an Open Hillel

Gary Fouse

Hat tip to JJ and the Huffington Post

Aryeh Younger, Editor-in-Chief of The Beacon, has written an op-ed in the Huffington Post supporting the Hillel chapter of Swarthmore College in defying the new national leadership of Hillel when it comes to being open to anti-Israel points of view and inviting anti-Zionist speakers.

Fousesquawk comment:

Mr Younger,

While I applaud your openness to viewpoints counter to yours, I would like to raise a point you may not have considered. As a non-Jew who supports Israel, fights against anti-Semitism, I have had a fair amount of experience with the Hillel chapter at the University of California at  Irvine, where I teach part-time. At times, they have stepped up and said the right things in the face of anti-Semitism, and at times, they have been disappointing.

When it comes to the question of Israel, I wonder if you have considered whether Hillel's willingness to invite speakers who oppose Israel has ever been matched by any chapter of the Muslim Student Association-at any university-willing to invite a pro-Israel speaker. I suspect it has not.

You see, Sir; it is not a fair fight. As you well know, Jewish students are very diverse when it comes to their degree of faith, political orientation, or devotion to Israel. They are up against Muslim Student Association chapters and Students for Justice in Palestine chapters who are not so diverse-at least when it comes to Israel. At UC Irvine, Jewish students have reached out to the Muslim Student Union on several occasions in an effort to have a respectful dialogue-only to be rebuffed.

Every year at UCI, as on many campuses, the MSU puts on a week of events in May dedicated to bashing Israel. Some of the invited speakers, like Amir Abdel Malik Ali and Mohammed al-Asi, have made out-and-out anti-Semitic statements on our campus. In 2011, Ali told Jews in the audience that they (the Jews) were "the new Nazis". In 2001, Al Asi said that, "You can take the Jew out of the ghetto, but you can't take the ghetto out of the Jew". They are readily available on YouTube.

So you can continue to be fragmented and inclusive all you want. Israel's enemies on college campuses are not so divided.

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