A group of student organizations at Cal Poly demand increases in funding for all student clubs -- except the Zionist ones. This follows the University of California Press just publishing a book calling for the American academy to be "de-Zionised" -- a chilling phrase that I had to look up to see if David Duke hadn't gotten there first.
And if you think this branch of activism is going to stop short before it gets to Hillel -- you're wrong.
An SJP activist at Stony Brook University declares "We want Zionism off this campus, so we want Hillel off this campus" (a "proper Jewish organization" where Jews can, apparently, have Sabbath services and do little else, would be acceptable).
An English Professor says that "Hillel has as much place on university campuses as does the KKK."
OPIRG refused to work with University of Ottawa Hillel when it hosted a member of the African Jewish community who did work on interfaith sustainable development projects because "Zionist Ideology does not fit within OPIRG's mandate of human right's (sic), social justice." And at York University, a Professor sent a letter to the university president demanding Hillel be disbanded as an "agent" of a foreign government.
I've leveled my share of critiques at Hillel -- for being undemocratic, for applying its "partnership guidelines" in absurd and unjustifiable ways, for privileging perceived "pro-Israel" bona fides as taking precedence over any and all other Jewish values. And why shouldn't I? No organization is immune from challenge, and if you can't criticize, you can't optimize.
But perfection is not a standard I, or any of us, should demand out of campus groups -- Jewish or otherwise -- and the attempts to expel Hillel from campus life are in no way related to valid dissent regarding the proper structuring of the Jewish collegiate experience.
There is a train that says that any iteration of Zionism or association with Jews and Israel is intolerably toxic and must be expunged. It has no brakes, and it will sooner rather than later come after Hillel and the entirety of Jewish communal life on college campuses. It already happened decades ago in the UK, where there was a concerted campaign in the 1970s and 80s to bar Jewish Societies ("JSocs") from campus as intrinsically racist. And as that tide rushes in once again, it's incumbent upon Hillel's backers and its critics to unite against it. This cannot stand.