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February 12, 2015 5:41 pm

Hillel President Vows to Stop Hatred Against Jewish Students After Call to Expel Jews From South African University

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Hillel CEO Eric Fingerhut warned that anti-Israel activity could easily slip into open antisemitism. Photo: Twitter.

Hillel International President and CEO Eric Fingerhut vowed on Thursday that his organization will not allow hatred against Jewish students to escalate, following a demand to expel Jews at a South African university.

“We will not permit such hatred to take root on any campus in the world where Hillel can extend its reach and offer support,” he said in a statement. “Hillel International stands in solidarity with Jewish students everywhere in their right to experience a safe and welcoming higher education.”

Fingerhut issued the statement in response to reports of the student council at Durban University of Technology  (DUT) in South Africa calling on the school to expel Jewish students who do not support the Palestinian agenda. DUT Vice Chancellor, Professor Ahmed Bawa, rejected the demand calling it “totally unacceptable.”

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Fingerhut said he found the suggestion by DUT student leaders to expel Jews “positively chilling.” He connected the incident to the current environment Jewish university students are facing in the US.

“With US campuses continuously tested by BDS, we are mindful of the short leap between contending with an anti-Israel movement and one that is dangerously and unabashedly antisemitic,” he said.

In a subsequent interview with The Algemeiner, Fingerhut elaborated: “I think there is now very clear evidence that in every case where we have seen the anti-Israel activities on campus, that are evidenced by BDS resolutions and apartheid walls etc., that they are increasingly associated with these types of behavior; with the types of harassment of students who identify themselves as pro-Israel. The types of verbal violence and frankly, sometimes now too often, physical violence that can only be categorized as antisemitism.”

Fingerhut added: “The very short path from what is respected political activity regarding issues in the Middle East to antisemitism is being easily crossed and creating an atmosphere that is denying Jewish students in some places their right to an education free of harassment and intimation… and what I saw in Durban was the logical conclusion of that movement. Clearly we are not there yet in the US, but to think that the continuum of hate that we have seen the beginning of in places like UC Davis or other locales does not end at Durban is to mislead ourselves.

“I want us to be aware that we are not immune from the antisemitic consequences of this very significant campaign of hate against Israel that is coming to our campuses.”

Still, according to a recent report by the Israel on Campus Coalition, the hard work by pro-Israel organizations across the US resulted in a surge in campus support for Israel during the fall 2014 semester. The Fall 2014 Campus Activity Report showed there were 63 percent more pro-Israel events in the semester than anti-Israel events. There was also a 53 percent growth in pro-Israel events since 2012 and 36 percent since 2013. Overall, campuses hosting pro-Israel activity jumped by 25.4 percent in 2014.

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  • My fellow Jews:ARM YOURSELVES NOW. Enough is Enough.

  • Yale

    All that’s really necessary is some skillful leadership that makes the case that 1) the anti-Israel folks are puppets for political forces that are hostile to what America stands for, ranging from the far-Left to the Muslim Brotherhood, to the far-Right; 2) Being pro-Israel shows maturity, understanding of the reality in the Middle East and common sense; 3) There’s no reason to hesitate showing your support for Israel’s efforts in defense of Western values — that’s the majority view, not just in the wider culture but on the campus as well — so there’s no reason to be intimidated by the thugs.

    It would also help to hurl ridicule at the groups who stage the anti-Israel activities.

  • Tabitha Korol

    Eric Fingerhut sees the danger in South Africa, but not in the US? Clearly, we are not there yet? I beg your pardon, but there is now a Sharia court in Texas; school textbooks are crammed with indoctrinal material about Islam, with little about America, Christianity and Judaism; students are being taken to mosques without parental notice; college students are defending terrorist organizations while staff look away; Azka Fayyaz is now openly promoting violence and Israel’s destruction at the Universities of California, and she is responsible for Nazi-style graffiti at Hillel House and a Jewish frat house. How much more do you require before you say “we’re here already.” Hillel does little to speak out against the Islamization of the campuses, particularly at the U of C. BDS groups have no right being held on campuses. The hate is already significant against Israel and Jewish students on campuses. What are your plans, Mr. Fingerhut?

  • Tabitha Korol

    Erid Fingerhut sees the danger in South Africa, but not in the US? Clearly, we are not there yet? I beg your pardon, but there is now a Sharia court in Texas; school textbooks are crammed with indoctrinal material about Islam, with little about America, Christianity and Judaism; students are being taken to mosques without parental notice; college students are defending terrorist organizations while staff look away; Azka Fayyaz is now openly promoting violence and Israel’s destruction at the Universities of California, and she is responsible for Nazi-style graffiti at Hillel House and a Jewish frat house. How much more do you require before you say “we’re here already.” Hillel does little to speak out against the Islamization of the campuses, particularly at the U of C. BDS groups have no right being held on campuses. The hate is already significant against Israel and Jewish students on campuses. What are your plans, Mr. Fingerhut?

  • When it has come to civil rights, human rights etc Jews have played a role in the fight. Once there were quotas in America’s top universities, top medical and law schools, and Afro-Americans were excluded from most ‘white’ universities based on the principle of ‘separate but equal’. In South Africa Jews were also conspicuous in fighting apartheid. South Africans seem to have short memories.

  • Per Ardua

    Hillel President should rather urge Jewish students to make aliya and attend much better universities in Israel. There is no way anti Semitism can be eliminated elsewhere. Jewish students should not Waste time and Money abroad.

  • Pierre Elie Mamou

    The a nice smiling lady, in the picture up there, wants to boycott Israel, products, universities… Of course, she doesn’t want to boycott the muslim countries products: gas and… what else?

  • Pierre Elie Mamou

    in the picture, up there, a nice smiling lady, who does not care about the two millions small girls being genitally mutilated by Isis, nor about gay people slaughtered everyday in many (not all, I suppose) muslim countries, wants to boycott Israel. I wish her an Isis w”warrior” in her bath (or bed) room.

  • Mickey Oberman

    I wish Mr. Fingerhut and Hillel all the luck in the world.

    I drink to their success with much more than a Thimble full of Israeli wine.
    Mickey

  • David Polovin

    It is worth noting the very recent achievement of Jewish students at Cape Town University, who successfully appealed a malicious prosecution and conviction on charges relating to their resistance of propaganda at ‘Israel Apartheid’ week. The students were assisted by volunteers from among Cape Town’s legal fraternity. More details from david@polovin.com

    It should also be noted that the attempted persecution of Jewish students in Durban was quickly and firmly disposed of by the head of the institution concerned and is now at an end. Its a pity that was not reported in this article.

  • Sonia Willats

    I stand for Israel, and for Israeli kids. I stand for Palastinian kids. So do 99% of Israelis, or more. I watched Tsuk Eitan from the inside. I know how afraid and heartsore Israelis were. People condemning the State of Israel (and I see Jews doing it) “know not what they do.” I believe it is, most of all, the liberal press, and its trickle-down effect on all political bodies and individuals that is guilty of this, together with the “Durban Conferences” that pumped up hatred for the Jewish State in ignorance of the true state of affairs and self-righteousness (Bishop Tutu.) People who stir hatred, like Bishop Tutu, should re-discover humility before they face their G-d, or god, as may be the case. Not all serve the game G-d. Does he wanted hatred stirred up towards his people, Bishop Tutu? Don’t answer me. There is one true G-d – the others are demons who love hatred and bloodshed. It is for us to choose which one you choose, Bishop Tutu. You were so constructive in burying hatred in South Africa and we loved you. And you have woken up demons of anti-Semitism in South Africa and the world, which I can only despise. Be humble before whichever god you serve; those who stir up hatred.

  • Noel Herasfield

    Good for them,fight back!

  • I propose a BDS of Muslim States. Trouble is they don’t make anything and only Oil and CocaCola is invested there.

  • Jack

    Hillel should also be concerned that virtually all anti-Israel activity is based on a double standard and is simply a socially acceptable form of anti-Semitism. To paraphrase Samuel Johnson, anti-Israel activity is the latest refuge for anti-Semites.

  • Dante

    “…could easyly slip into…”?
    No, it already slipped – by the demand to expel students fo being Jewish, meanwhile except of those who collaborate with the Jews’ enemies.

  • J.J. Surbeck

    This should prove interesting. Judging by how well Hillel has done in this respect on US campuses, there is little chance that they will be able to do much better in South Africa. Hillel’s mistake, like so many other Jewish organizations, is to believe that they can tackle all by themselves the millennial problem of antisemitism, now morphed into anti-Zionism and every hue of anti-Israelism. None of them can do it separately and alone, even if they falsely claim otherwise to their donors. The latter should open their eyes and look at the evidence: Hillel’s approach has not worked, and the situation keeps worsening with every passing year. Don’t listen to what they say, look at what is actually happening.

    • Ed Beck

      You have hit the nail on the head.

  • Jack Holan

    Mr. Fingerhut is spot on in his analysis. I would add however that Jew has become synonymous with Israeli and the surrogate target of opportunity for harassment or worse at many Universities. It seems as though most Administrators for one reason or another do not want to protect Jewish students by confronting either the aggressive BDS or MAS organizations to name two. I believe the multi-faceted approaches cited by Mr. Fingerhut have potential and seem to have generated results, already. The only negative commentary that I have in my writing and not to be taken lightly because of the gravity of the action. If there comes a time that the University or community is not listening, the Police will not become involved for one reason or another, the Judiciary rebuffs your attempt to have them take steps, and leaving is not possible for the community or students; there are actions that are Jewish precedents in our American experience from the 30s and 40s.

  • RobiMac

    Now there’s a moot point if I ever saw one. No one in the history of mankind was ever able to stop hatred. The only thing that can be stopped is actions due to hatred by means of law enforcement threats, etc. But, that’s about it.

  • Leo Toystory

    Someone’s going to stop South Africans from hating Jews? That’ll be the day.

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