Sunday, May 06, 2018

The Train Has No Brakes: Hillel Station Approaches

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 waysfor 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.

3 comments:

Mismos said...

Wow that is scary stuff!
Plus it seems there aren't very many non-Jewish allies on "the left". So how do we resist this?

Joe in Australia said...

There are certainly non-Jewish allies on the left, and that's why we have to be unapologetic about expressing our needs. It's very natural to retreat in the face of persecution, but at present many people have come to realise that antisemitism didn't just disappear with the post-war settlement and that Jews are an essential part of the egalitarian coalition. There are many people who are ready to extend their arms in solidarity, but the price of that is admitting that we need it.

And also dealing with our own issues, of course, but we should do that anyway.

Empress Trudy said...

It will be interesting to see the first public university whether it's Stonybrook or UC Irvine or wherever, formally ban all "Jews", in those very words and the people leading the charge will be far far left wing Jews themselves. It will be interesting as well to see how schools like that continue onward after their ethnic cleansing. I suppose there's always money from someone to keep them afloat.