In recent months, colleges around the nation have started challenging Hillel International over their policy surrounding Israel discourse. The movement first started at Harvard, where the local Hillel was barred by the national organization from co-sponsoring a discussion with a Palestinian student group.
Swarthmore became the first “Open Hillel” in early December, declaring that they will no longer abide by the guidelines presented by Hillel national. In their official statement, Swarthmore’s Hillel declared that, “All are welcome to walk through our doors and speak with our name and under our roof, be they Zionist, anti-Zionist, post-Zionist, or non-Zionist.”
Hillel’s official guidelines specify that groups or speakers that deny the right of Israel to exist, support the BDS (boycott, divest and sanction) movement or, “delegitimize, demonize or apply a double standard to Israel” will not be hosted by the organization.
The movement has been met with backlash, especially from the national Hillel organization. As quoted in the New York Times, Eric Fingerhut, the president and chief executive of Hillel, responded to the movement by stating that, “ ‘anti-Zionists’ will not be permitted to speak using the Hillel name or under the Hillel roof, under any circumstances.”