Swarthmore Hillel Confronts Internaitonal Hillel's Israel Guidelines

Something incredibly important just happened at a small college in Pennsylvania. 

In response to Harvard Hillel barring an Israeli speaker because the university's Palestine Solidarity Committee had cosponsored the event atwhich he was to present, the Hillel at Swarthmore College issued a sweeping declaration -that it would allow multiple points of view on Zionism and Palestine within its chapter. In their words,Swarthmore Hillel would be "a religious and cultural group whose purpose is not to advocate for one single political view." It would "host and partner withany speaker at the discretion of itstudent board, regardless of Hillel International's Israel guidelines," and would do so in the full knowledge that "Hillel International's Israel guidelines privilege only one perspective on Zionism, and make others unwelcome."

We at the International Jewish anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) welcome this brave and principled declaration from the students of Swarthmore's Hillel. The Hillel organization has long claimed to represent all Jews on campus. And it has long been a strong supporter of Israel. Through these two positions, it has sought to collapse Jewish identity into Zionism - a maneuver we reject. And so we stand strongly behind these young people's decision to decouple Jewish communal life from monotone support for Israeli policies, and to make space within their chapterfor the true diversity of opinions on Zionism and the Israeli colonization and occupation of Palestine.

At IJAN, we are inescapably aware of the way Zionist forces have taken over Jewish communal institutions over the past 50 years, thereby welding support for Israeli colonialism onto Jewish community centers, synagogues, and indeed, nearly everywhere Jews come together. We, too, are aware of how Zionists have used the history of Jews and the brutal history of European antisemitism - a history inseparable from European colonial brutality - to shield that outpost of European colonialism fromscrutiny by cloaking it in the shroud of Jewish victimhood. In the process, they wrench and deform a Jewish history of working class, anti-colonial, anti-racist, and indeed anti-Zionist struggle, reshaping, erasing, or instrumentalizing that history to strengthen this sustained settler-colonial project.





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