JVP Congratulates Swarthmore Jewish Student Group
Jewish Voice for Peace Congratulates Swarthmore Jewish Student Group’s Historic Decision to Become First “Open Hillel” and Welcome all Perspectives on Israel.
2010 Brandeis Hillel battle foreshadowed new student movement.
Contact: Lev Hirschhorn, JVP National Board Member and Brandeis alum
[ Brooklyn, NY. December 11, 2013 ] Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) congratulates Swarthmore Hillel, the Jewish student group at Swarthmore College, for having become the first-ever “Open Hillel” in the country.
Being "open" means they have voted to welcome students and partnerships with groups with a range of views regarding Israel, including Jewish Voice for Peace, in distinct contrast with Hillel International which has issued strict guidelines that ban programs or partnerships with groups that may be critical of Israeli human rights policies. Hillel International has already threatened to sever ties with the first Open Hillel. Last year, Jewish students around the country launched the Open Hillel campaign to change Hillel's policies to better reflect Hillel and the Jewish community's values of pluralism and inclusivity.
Liza Behrendt, Brandeis alum and Organizer of JVP-Boston: “The attempt to open Hillel to all Jewish students is not new. In 2010, I was part of an effort to allow my Brandeis chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) to join our campus Hillel. We succeeded in gaining support from 100 faculty members, 50 rabbis and nearly 1/3 of the student body, but ultimately our bid was rejected, citing Hillel International’s restrictive Israel guidelines. It is well past time for these guidelines to not only be challenged, but to be dispensed with.”
Rabbi Alissa Wise, co-founder of the Jewish Voice for Peace rabbinical council: "Swarthmore's Hillel is the biblical Nachshon of our time--the first to take the step into the sea, trusting it will part to reach the shores of freedom. Though it is disheartening that so many campuses tolerate Hillel International’s repressive Israel guidelines, I am inspired by the bold defiance, the sacred chutzpah, of these students. Hillel is making a big mistake in writing off these students as irrelevant to the future or well-being of the American Jewish community.”
Cecilie Surasky, Deputy Director of Jewish Voice for Peace: “The tides are changing. An October 2013 Pew Research Poll revealed that 89% of American Jews state that being strongly critical of Israel is compatible with being Jewish. If Hillel International insists on maintaining their intransigent policies, it will find that more and more Jewish students will either declare themselves Open Hillel or voluntarily exclude themselves from a group that does not welcome them.”
Jewish Voice for Peace is a national grassroots peace organization dedicated to promoting a US foreign policy in the Middle East based on peace, democracy, human rights and respect for international law. With over 130,000 supporters, 35 chapters, and a rabbinic cabinet, JVP’s board of advisors includes Pulitzer and Tony award winner Tony Kushner, actor Ed Asner, writer Naomi Klein and other respected rabbis, artists, scholars and activists.
Background articles on JVP Brandeis:
March 3, 2011, NY Jewish Week
March 11, 2009 Boston Globe
Brandeis groups clash over stance on Israel
Show your support for Swarthmore Hillel and the Open Hillel campaign:
"Stand with Swarthmore" petition
The general "Open Hillel" petition