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View Diary: I'm Now Another Jew Who's Been Barred from Speaking within a Jewish Building (in America) (147 comments)

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  •  "constrained by Hillel International's guidelines" (0+ / 0-)

    I don't think this has much to do with anything.  It's like the "Pirate Parley Rules" from those movies.  They're more guidelines that real rules :-)

    Hillel International is extremely timid on ideological issues.  Mostly, I think, due to the funding issue.  I cannot recall anybody quoting them, for any reason, ever on any issue other than maybe the availability of alcohol to minors, another perennial issue Hillel boards have to argue about from time to time.

    But Hillel Int'l really is not a significant funder of local Hillels.  Whatever trouble you had was almost certainly locally generated, partly by people who genuinely dislike your point of view, joined by people worried about pissing off funders.

    That said -- you must certainly know the role of boycotts in the history of the conflict.  BDS is major problem for the Jewish community right now, and while some folks that oppose violence do  support it, some of the folks who support it really do favor violent and eliminationist positions.  The fights at UC Berkeley are very top-of-mind for any Hillel in the University of California system like UCSB.

    Support for true non-violence has been hard for activists on both the Jewish/Zionist and the Palestinian side (harder for the Palestinians, I think, than for Jews, who are risking much less).  You've seen the Jewish side of it; non-violent and pacifist Palesitinian activists get trouble not only from other Arabs and from some Muslim organizations; they get it from parts of the American socialist/"non-violent" left, who consider these activists to be accommodationist or even traitorist.  

    It's possible, although challenging, for Hillels to do programming that gives voice to Palesitinian voices who are committed to non-violence and committed to talking to the Jewish community and Jewish college students.  I've seen it done, and done very well, and not very long ago either: a friend of mine (a Hillel director) and an Northern Calif. imam hailing from Ramallah had a series of public talks that drew from a wide swath of the local university community, including Jewish, Arab, and Muslim groups.  Everybody came away with something to think about.  And to feel some hope about the situation, perhaps.  

    But by the same token, it's easy to do events where one side or the other (the Israeli right and worse on one hand, and groups like the MSA that favor "armed struggle" against Jewish civilians) use the event to their own partisan ends.  As a board member at a Hillel, we had talks with "nonviolence activists" (the scare quotes really do apply) that insisted on doing their events with people who did favor military action against civilians.  The speakers  were pretty open about what they favored.  Neither here nor there, free speech and all, but not somebody you can share a platform with.  But the organizers of these events were not terribly honest about it.   They were looking for more established Jewish contacts to give the appearance, but not the reality, of balance.   Dealing with folks and organizations like these is hard, and can discredit a board with its local Jewish community if incompetently handled.

    And while boycotts do have a long history in non-violent protest, as you pointed out in some of your writings, they also have a very specific history in the I/P conflict, of which I am certain you are aware.  You were misunderstood.  But unfortunately the distinction is rather fine, especially when there are people on the RW of the Jewish community that are more than happy to blur the distinction for you.

    Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

    by mbayrob on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 04:00:51 PM PST

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