J Street Hits Back at Hillel Chief Over Conference Pull-Out by the Forward

J Street Hits Back at Hillel Chief Over Conference Pull-Out

Hillel International President Eric Fingerhut was aware of who would speak at a J Street conference before he confirmed his attendance, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group said.

“After agreeing to speak for the first time in a public forum with J Street U students he chose to pull out, citing objections to the other featured speakers,” J Street U, the group’s campus affiliate, said in a statement late Monday.

“The speakers were clear to Mr. Fingerhut before he confirmed and Mr. Fingerhut was not being asked to share a podium with anyone he might find objectionable,” the statement said.

Fingerhut’s statement Monday said he withdrew from the March 21-24 conference because he had “concerns regarding my participation amongst other speakers who have made highly inflammatory statements against the Jewish state.”

Asked by JTA to name an offensive speaker, Hillel’s chief administrative officer, David Eden, cited Saeb Erekat, the longtime chief negotiator for the Palestinians in talks with Israel and the United States, who has been criticized for his inflammatory statements.

Eden and other Hillel officials insist that Fingerhut was not aware of Erekat’s participation before confirming. J Street says it made Erekat’s participation public on March 3 and Fingerhut confirmed on March 6.

“At J Street, we try to create opportunities to listen, engage and tackle difficult issues across differences,” the statement said. “We do not insist that everyone we speak with agree with us. We do not endorse the views of all those who speak at our conference.”

Fingerhut was slated to speak on counteracting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. J Street U is opposed to the movement and has joined with Hillel on the campus level in presenting an alternative view.

J Street says it anticipates 3,000 activists at its conference, including 1,000 students.


J Street Hits Back at Hillel Chief Over Conference Pull-Out

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

J Street Hits Back at Hillel Chief Over Conference Pull-Out

Thank you!

This article has been sent!