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Swarthmore Hillel Opens Doors to Anti-Zionist Speakers

Defying official policy, Student Board of Swarthmore College to operate 'open door policy' to boycotters, anti-Zionists.
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 12/10/2013, 4:58 PM

Boycotters welcome at Swarthmore Hillel
Boycotters welcome at Swarthmore Hillel
Flash 90

The Hillel Student Board of Swarthmore College has overridden Hillel guidelines and opened their doors to Anti-Zionist speakers. The board voted unanimously to become an "Open Hillel" and to work with pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel groups. 

The college, which is located in Pennsylvania and has an enrollment of roughly 1500 students, is ranked #3 among US liberal arts colleges by the US News. Despite the small size, the college may make waves with the resolution, which 

The Swarthmore Hillel student board’s resolution stated that these guidelines are discriminatory, “privilege only one perspective on Zionism, and make others unwelcome.” The resolution said that Swarthmore Hillel “will host and partner with any speaker at the discretion of the board, regardless of Hillel International’s Israel guidelines.”

These guidelines read, according to the Hillel International website:

Hillel will not partner with, house, or host organizations, groups, or speakers that as a matter of policy or practice: deny the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish and democratic state with secure and recognized borders; delegitimize, demonize, or apply a double standard to Israel; support boycott of, divestment from, or sanctions against the State of Israel; exhibit a pattern of disruptive behavior towards campus events or guest speakers or foster an atmosphere of incivility.

In an open letter to The Beacon, the student board released a statement defying Hillel guidelines and advocating participation with Anti-Zionist organizations - both pro-Palestinian groups and leftist Jewish groups such as JStreet, Breaking the Silence, and Jewish Voice for Peace. The board insists that it is now an "Open Hillel" and that doing so encourages "inclusivity" and "open discourse." 

Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) has been listed as one of the Top 10 Anti-Israel groups this year by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), based on its involvement in Boycott, Divestments, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns against Israel. JVP has reportedly been involved in running a "summer camp" to teach young activists how to organize boycotts against Israel. 

In the statement, the Hillel also declares that anti-Zionism is not antithetical to Judaism, and blames Hillel for promoting pro-Israel activities as one-sided and biased. One excerpt reads: 

Hillel, billing itself as the “Foundation for Jewish Campus Life,” is seen by many as the face of the American Jewish college population. And due to these policies, it is a face that is often seen to be monolithically Zionist, increasingly uncooperative, and completely uninterested in real pluralistic, open dialogue and discussion.

We do not believe this is the true face of young American Jews. 

The announcement received congratulations from Harvard's Progressive Jewish Alliance on Twitter. Harvard has become a hotbed for anti-Israel activity, outraging Jewish groups in 2012. 

Anti-Israel activity has increased dramatically on campuses in the US and across North America in the past year. In October, Rutgers University students were shocked to find "mock eviction" notices spread all over dorm buildings, in a move promoted by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). Those fliers spread to several universities across the US, including Harvard and the University of California, Berkeley. 

The University of Toronto has also been involved in large-scale BDS campaigns and anti-Israel events, including "Apartheid Week." 

It is unclear whether or not the Hillel will be able to keep its title or association with Hillel International, nor its partnership with The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. Arutz Sheva reached out to Hillel International representatives, who were unavailable for comment.