'Open Hillel' Announces Conference Featuring Anti-Israel Speakers

Open Hillel, which seeks to change the pro-Israel nature of Hillel International, announced plans to host its first annual conference from October 11th-13th at Harvard University.

Open Hillel asks that Hillel buildings “engage in a full spectrum of political views” and “remove its guidelines for Standards of Partnership for campus Israel activities.” The current guidelines that the movement takes issue with is: “Hillel will not partner with, house, or host organizations, groups, or speakers that as a matter of policy or practice: (1) Deny the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish and democratic state with secure and recognized borders (2) Delegitimize, demonize, or apply a double standard to Israel; (3) Support boycott of, divestment from, or sanctions against the State of Israel; (4) Exhibit a pattern of disruptive behavior towards campus events or guest speakers or foster an atmosphere of incivility.”

According to the conference website, the meet-up will feature Judith Butler, Rashid Khalidi, and David Harris-Gershon who are excluded because of the establishments' "monolithic view on Israel-Palestine." Contrary to the idea that Hillel members and speakers solely agree on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Hillel routinely hosts a wide-range of beliefs from Peter Beinart to Caroline Glick. Many individuals who are not allowed to deliver talks on the Middle East in Hillel are barred simply due to their extremism and harsh anti-Israel positions. Hillel International, in accordance with its mission statement, receives donor funding to put on pro-Israel events.

Middle East scholar Asaf Romirowsky wrote that Butler “loathes Israel to a point where she has unapologetically whitewashed Israel’s foes, labeling Hamas and Hezbollah [now recognized internationally as terrorist groups] as ‘social movements that are progressive, that are on the left, that are part of a global left.’ According to Discover the Networks, Khalidi is known for  “characterizing Israel as a “racist” state that is “basically an apartheid system in creation,” Khalidi claims that the Israeli army is in possession of “awful weapons of mass destruction (many supplied by the U.S.) that it has used in cities, villages and refugee camps.”

“We will be inviting left-wingers, right-wingers, Zionists, Anti-Zionists, Non-Zionists, two-staters, one-staters and everyone in between or outside of that spectrum to share their thoughts and ideas on Israel-Palestine” according to the site. "We want a Jewish community where the full diversity of Jewish views on Israel-Palestine is accepted and celebrated.”

‘Open Hillel’ also released a video publicizing the conference with a number of students, including some connected to J Street, saying “I want the Jewish community to include people like me.” Hillel International already welcomes all students but simply will not commit to anti-Semitic and/or anti-Israel programming for which the students are asking. Under the 'Open Hillel' arrangement, the anti-Semitic organization Students for Justice in Palestine would receive funding and sponsorship from Hillel International.