Monday, December 16, 2013

HuffPost Goes After Hillel (Again)

If you are plugged into the usual conversations surrounding what's known as the "other Arab-Israeli conflict" (the one waged by propagandists in the USA) then you might be familiar with the new policy at Hillel: that anti-Zionists and those who delegitimize Israel are not welcome under the Hillel roof. The Huffington Post ignored the story until they could find someone to criticize that decision, naturally, a blog post by Aryeh Younger praising a Hillel at Swarthmore who declared themselves to be "open" to those who hate Jewish people. For once a Huffington Post blogger has a somewhat reasonable point however he doesn't do a particularly good job explaining it with what can only be described as weasel words:
"I too feel uncomfortable listening to many of the political positions espoused by leading members of the academic community when it comes to the topic of Israel....But the discomfort that many of us feel should not -- and cannot -- lead us to ostracize members of our own community. The American Jewish community is already shrinking at a rapid rate, and it is critical to ensure that all its members feel welcome, regardless of political orientation."
Hillel is not against "political positions espoused by leading members of the academic community," it's against those who seek to deny Jewish people their right of self-determination. The two examples that Younger cites are Noam Chomsky and Judith Butler. One would not be invited to speak at Hillels in the first place and the second is hardly a leading member of the academic community. Also Hillel is not saying that any Jewish person will be "ostracized," just that they wouldn't be welcome to talk about that one particular opinion with Hillel backing. I doubt that Younger would have much to say if the MSA decided that they weren't going to host people who thought that Allah wasn't the one true God and Mohammad isn't his prophet in the name of making people feel welcome. This seems like the classic misuse of freedom of speech that is so often employed when it comes to Israel topics on the Huffington Post.

His misuse of freedom of speech continues further down the article in this amazing leap of logic (emphasis mine):
"That said, by denying the students of Swarthmore College the ability to identify with Hillel International, we are effectively isolating them from the American Jewish establishment."
Hillel isn't denying them anything. They made a choice: you can keep the Hillel name or you can host people who want to annihilate the Jewish state, but you can't have both. They chose the latter, and now Younger is trying to turn them into the victims because he simply doesn't like Hillel's decision. Besides, if you ask me the students at Swat deserve to be isolated from the American Jewish establishment because apparently they like to suck up to those who would deny the Jewish people their rights. But here comes that "freedom of speech' card again:
"Freedom of speech, however, is an essential belief to most Americans, Jewish or not. The very thought of political censorship is enough to turn certain people away from Hillel -- and perhaps even from religion entirely."
For what feels like the hundredth time: freedom of speech applies to government censorship. If Hillel passed a resolution saying that people who are blatant anti-Semites can't receive Hillel funds or use the Hillel name, you wouldn't be saying anything even though that's technically just as much "political censorship" as being an anti-Zionist.

I think Hillel is correct in concluding that if you are only interested in using Hillel as a platform to announce your intention to destroy the Jewish state, then the Jewish people can live without you...if you were even that connected to Jewish life in the first place. He continues to use and misuse freedom of speech:
"In anticipation of this crisis, the American Jewish establishment must provide a safe environment that fosters healthy debate -- an open platform to engage the tough issues."
Getting someone like Norman Finkelstein or Judith Butler to stand up and screech about how Israel must be wiped off the map isn't "fostering healthy debate." Anti-Zionists don't "debate," they propagandize and indoctrinate, and Hillel has no obligation to help them do that or to provide money to them. Whining about freedom of speech doesn't belong in this conversation and even the Huffington Post's readership was able to figure that out:


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