Washington U Hillel Hailed for Refusing to Fund J Street-Hosted Breaking the Silence Event
A student leader at Washington University in St. Louis (Wash U) has applauded the school’s Hillel for refusing to fund a J Street U event featuring the far-left Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence (BtS).
Paul Felder — president of Wash U Students for Israel — told The Algemeiner on Monday that the Hillel staff had done right in telling J Street U — a Hillel-affiliated group — it would not back the three-day event this week commemorating the Six-Day War as the start of the “occupation.” The Jewish center had co-sponsored a similar event at the school in 2014.
“Hillel does not provide any funding to groups that support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which BtS is firmly behind,” Felder said, referring to Hillel International’s standards of partnership for Israel-related events. (On its website, BtS says it “has never supported the movement to boycott Israel, nor have we ever been funded by the movement.”)
A J Street U member reported Hillel’s refusal to co-sponsor the event in an op-ed published on Monday in the Wash U student newspaper, writing, “[W]e were told that the event would be too radical and divisive…Respectfully, that’s unacceptable.”
Felder said, “Hillel does an incredible job creating an open dialogue for students to share their love of Israel, and their legitimate criticism,” adding that, “J Street U members should recognize that [they are assisting] a campaign on college campuses to demonize their friends and family serving in the IDF.”
He added that his group regularly invites Israeli soldiers to speak to Wash U “about the IDF Code of Ethics and the extreme measures they take to defend civilian lives” and that this year the event was disrupted by the school’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine.
Wash U students are said to be split on whether J Street U should lose its Hillel-affiliated status as a consequence of hosting BtS.
BtS has been accused of fabricating evidence and lying about IDF activities. A group co-founder was discovered in 2016 telling tourists that Israeli settlers poisoned Palestinian wells and its public relations coordinator was exposed in January 2017 for saying shooting IDF soldiers was “not terrorism.”
Hillel and J Street U did not immediately respond to The Algemeiner‘s request for comments on this week’s Wash U event.
Wash U is the first stop on BtS’s 2017 tour of US campuses and synagogues, according to the school’s J Street U chapter.