Open Hillel welcomes BDS, anti-Israel voices

by Batya Ungar-Sargon
October 14, 2014

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (JTA) — Harvard senior Rachel Sandalow-Ash scanned the exuberant crowd that packed a campus auditorium on Saturday night. “Wow,” she said, speaking to an audience of some 350 composed primarily of American college students. “This is amazing. This is really cool.”

Sandalow-Ash, 21, went on to discuss the importance of nurturing a pluralistic and intellectually diverse Jewish community. “We believe that no one should be excluded because of their views on Israel-Palestine, or really for any reason at all. And we believe that real discussions of Israel-Palestine have to include Palestinian voices as well,” she said to raucous applause.

The crowd had gathered at Harvard for “If Not Now When,” the inaugural conference of Open Hillel — a 2-year-old student group that seeks to abolish Hillel International Standards of Partnership rules that prevent campus Hillels from collaborating with people or groups that “delegitimize” the Jewish state, or support efforts of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement targeted at Israel. Since Hillel adopted the guidelines, the “Standards for Partnership,” the Hillels at Swarthmore College, Vassar College and Wesleyan University have declared themselves “Open Hillels” and said they would not conform to them……


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