Guilford College’s Hillel declares itself ‘open’


NEW YORK (JTA) – The Hillel chapter at Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina, said it will no longer abide by Hillel International’s restrictions on Israel-related issues.

The announcement that the Guilford Hillel had joined the so-called Open Hillel movement came in a Facebook posting on Wednesday night.

“At Guilford’s Hillel, we have a wide range of Jewish voices. We have Zionists, anti-Zionists and everything in between,” the announcement said. “On our campus, it is an imperative that Hillel be a place that is for all Jewish students, irrespective of their political ideology. As an open Hillel, we believe that Jewish students should be supported in expressing their Jewish identity and values in the way that is most meaningful to them. … To be an open Hillel is to welcome all perspectives on Israel-Palestine.”

Hillel International’s rules prohibit college Hillel chapters from partnering with or hosting groups or speakers who deny Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish or democratic state; delegitimize, demonize or apply a double standard to Israel; or support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel.

Guilford is the fourth Hillel chapter in the United States to publicly declare it will not abide Hillel International’s rules; the others are Swarthmore, Vassar and Wesleyan. In Swarthmore’s case, the Hillel chapter was compelled to change its name, to Swarthmore Kehilah, following the threat of legal action from Hillel International.

Hillel International’s president, Eric Fingerhut, has said that Hillel is committed to inclusiveness, including of those critical of Israel, but not to giving a platform to those who want to attack Israel.

“Hillel should and will always provide students with an open and pluralistic forum where they can explore issues and opinions related to their Jewish identity,” Fingerhut said last year in a statement. “Hillel will not, however, give a platform to groups or individuals to attack the Jewish people, Jewish values or the Jewish state’s right to exist. This includes groups or individuals that support and advance the BDS movement, which represents a vicious attack on the State of Israel and the Jewish people.”

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