DC Students Protest Hillel’s Ties to Israeli Nationalist Bennett by the Forward

DC Students Protest Hillel’s Ties to Israeli Nationalist Bennett

Open Hillel, a movement of Jewish students who seek to widen discourse about Israel on college campuses, is holding a rally this afternoon — urging Hillel International to end its financial partnership with Naftali Bennett, Israel’s Diaspora Affairs Minister.

The rally is taking place outside Hillel International headquarters in Washington D.C.

“As the U.S. prepares to inaugurate a president who has demonstrated a profound disregard for civil liberties and civil rights, Open Hillel is urging Hillel International to renounce its partnering with Bennett, an Israeli cabinet member who has demonstrated a similar disregard for democratic values,” said Elana Metz, national organizer of Open Hillel in a press statement.

Open Hillel is a 4-year-old student group that seeks to abolish Hillel International’s Standards of Partnership rules that prevent campus Hillels from working with individuals or groups that “delegitimize” the Jewish state, or support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeted at Israel.

Last summer, Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs launched a new initiative to strengthen Jewish identity on college campuses — teaming up with Chabad, Olami and Hillel.

The Israeli government has vowed to contribute $22 million to the initiative, Haaretz reported, with the partnering organizations investing $44 million. The ministry establishing a company Mosaic United, to manage the initiative.

But Open Hillel students object to the partnership because of Bennett’s politics.

“Hillel’s partnership with Bennett will undermine its stated commitments to pluralism and open discourse,” the Open Hillel statement said. “Bennett opposes the recognition of Reform and Conservative rabbis; opposes marriage equality in Israel; and opposes interfaith marriages and relationships.”

Leading up to the rally, students posted images on Twitter of signs they would carry, including references to president-elect Donald Trump, who will be inaugurated as president this weekend and is also the source of division and protest among Jews. “Hillel, who do you serve?” read one, “Your students? Or Trump & Bennett?”

Email Sam Kestenbaum at kestenbaum@forward.com and follow him on Twitter at @skestenbaum


Sam Kestenbaum

Sam Kestenbaum

Sam Kestenbaum is a contributing editor and former staff writer for the Forward. Before this, he worked for The New York Times and newsrooms in Sana, Ramallah and Beijing. Contact him at kestenbaum@forward.com and follow him on Twitter at @skestenbaum and on Instagram at @skestenbaum.

DC Students Protest Hillel’s Ties to Israeli Nationalist Bennett

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

DC Students Protest Hillel’s Ties to Israeli Nationalist Bennett

Thank you!

This article has been sent!