Hillel president to talk BDS with J Street students


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Hillel President Eric Fingerhut will address J Street students about combating the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel on campuses.

Fingerhut, who pulled out of addressing a J Street conference in March, reportedly under donor pressure, will address the summer leadership institute of J Street’s Campus affiliate, J Street U, on Aug. 17, a Hillel statement said.

The statement issued Thursday said Fingerhut would “discuss issues of mutual concern and importance to both organizations and the pro-Israel community on campus.”

Sarah Turbow, J Street U’s director, told JTA that Fingerhut will discuss a range of issues. “Iran, Jewish unity on campus,” she said, naming two. “There will be many things to discuss and BDS will certainly be one of them.”

Matthew Berger, a spokesman for Hillel, said Fingerhut “looked forward to meeting the students and engaging with them.”

“All Hillel professionals value opportunities to speak to as many Jewish students as possible,” Berger said.

J Street and Hillel officials have met since Fingerhut pulled out of the March conference to discuss means of working together.

J Street U opposes the boycott movement, but its openness to engage with entities and individuals that some centrist and right-wing Jewish groups consider hostile to Israel and Jews has created tensions among pro-Israel groups.

Fingerhut’s engagement with J Street got a nod of approval from the Jewish establishment through Jerry Silverman, the president of the Jewish Federations of North America.

“Hillel’s mission is focused on enriching the lives of all Jewish students and Eric is living that mission,” Silverman told JTA in an email. “I strongly support his leadership and hope he will continue to engage Jewish students, reaching out to them through the broad range of college campus organizations that meet Hillel’s standards.”

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