BREAKING NEWS: Hillel International Revises Campus Guidelines*

The student-led initiative Open Hillel was launched to question Hillel International’s “Israel Guidelines,” and has taken root on campuses like Swarthmore, Vassar and, most recently, Wesleyan, and is making additional waves on campuses around the country like Berkeley and Harvard and elsewhere. Today, in response to the Open Hillel initiative and related pressures, Hillel International has undergone a dramatic change of heart and has decided to change their guidelines from an archaic, narrow-minded, free-speech stifling, Overbearing-Donor-pleasing set of restrictions to a series of guiding principles that align with the Jewish values of peace and justice that Hillel is committed to nurturing on campuses around the country.*

The initial guidelines that drew powerful and principled opposition from students around the country as “monolithic,” “censoring,” and “exclusive,” were as follows:

Hillel will not partner with, house, or host organizations, groups, or speakers that as a matter of policy or practice:

(A) deny the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish and democratic state with secure and recognized borders.

(B) delegitimize, demonize, or apply a double standard to Israel.

(C) support boycott of, divestment from, or sanctions against the State of Israel.

In a striking gesture of humility, constituency-orientation, and willingness to change, and following in depth consultation with members of Open Hillel and Policy Analyst Professional Consultant Advisors and Former Hillel Campus Presidents Affiliated with The Leftern Wall Guideline Revision Group Ltd. Inc., Hillel International has suggested the following Revised Israel-Palestine Campus Guidelines for consideration. (As a first step, they requested that they be published on The Leftern Wall and opened to comment and critique).

Hillel will not partner with, house, or host organizations, groups, or speakers that as a matter of policy or practice:

(A) deny the right of Israelis and Palestinians to exist and live in personal and collective safety, security, freedom, equality and peace, regardless of border-arrangements or lack thereof.

(B) demonize Israelis or Palestinians — or African Asylum Seekers or Orthodox Christians or Mizrahi Jews or Filipino Migrant Workers or any other national, religious, social, ethnic, racial or identity-based collective of human beings.**

(C) support violence -defined as an act aimed to kill, or severely harm, physically or spiritually, another human being or human beings- against Israelis or Palestinians or any other group. Examples of violence include: blowing up buses, opening fire on buses, shooting rockets at civilian-populated areas, dropping bombs (or white phosphorus) on civilian-populated areas, night raids, arbitrary detentions without trial, murdering kids as they try to gather weeds, murdering families, including children and infants, as they sleep, torturing children, and so on. Examples of violence do not include: Harshly worded critiques, soldiers’ testimonies of abuses they witnessed, advocacy of economic boycotts, divesting from corporations, et cetera.

Hillel International realizes that they do not have all the answers, and that there are areas that they may have overlooked, or values-points that may need tweaking, in their new guidelines. As such, and as the beginning of the process of turning over a new leaf, as it were, Hillel International invites readers to comment, question, challenge and support the updated guidelines here on The Leftern Wall. So, what do ya’ll think?

[And if they are so moved, readers can also get in touch with Hillel International, congratulating them, as it were, on their bold decision. Or get on board with Open Hillel, who may need to keep doing the amazing work they are doing, if Hillel International gets cold feet, as it were.]

*Neither the title of this piece, nor any of the claims made about Hillel International’s actions, decisions, etc., are true, except, unfortunately, the original “Israel Guidelines.” But here’s hoping, huh? Congrats to Wesleyan. Yashar koach Open Hillel. Onwards.

**Following a simultaneous audit of Introduction to Logic 101 and Introduction to Politics 101 at Fleaglebump College, ND, Hillel leaders began to question how one can “demonize” a State:

“You know what I think, Rick?”
“What do you think, Tom?”
“I think that the monopoly over the use of force in the given territory in which you reside is… demon-like.”

Additionally, Hillel leaders have recognized that the word “delegitimization,” has ceased to mean anything whatsoever.