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April 6, 2014 10:52 pm

Wesleyan University Jewish Students Reject Hillel International’s Israel Guidelines

avatar by JNS.org

The Wesleyan University shield. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

JNS.orgA group of 12 current and former Jewish student leaders at Connecticut-based Wesleyan University announced that the Hillel International-affiliated Wesleyan Jewish Community has rejected the Jewish campus umbrella’s Israel guidelines.

Hillel’s standards of partnership state that it “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.”

The Wesleyan students are now aligning with the “Open Hillel” movement, which rejects the Hillel umbrella’s Israel guidelines. Swarthmore Hillel and the Vassar College Jewish Union previously made the same move.

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“We are committed to neither censoring nor excluding individuals, groups or speakers from our communal spaces merely because their political views around Israel or other issues stray from mainstream opinion,” the Wesleyan students stated. “We are committed to a conversation around Judaism and Israel that reflects the values of the members of our community, rather than the political preferences of the leaders of Hillel International.”

Daniel Mael, co-founder of “Safe Hillel“—a group created as an alternative to Open Hillel and to ensure that Hillel “remains a safe place for Jews of all backgrounds who want to practice Judaism and support Israel”—told JNS.org, “Unfortunately these [Wesleyan] students are opening the door to anti-Semitic and or anti-Zionist speakers to have a forum in Hillel. I think it is inappropriate and adds to the atmosphere of intimidation that pro-Israel students face on campus from anti-Israel bullies.”

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