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Wesleyan students choose ‘Open Hillel’

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The Hillel-affiliated Wesleyan Jewish Community announced its “solidarity with, and support of, the Open Hillel movement.”

The statement issued April 2 was signed by three current Jewish student leaders and nine former Jewish student leaders at Wesleyan University in Connecticuit.

“We believe that no one should be made to feel excluded, marginalized or unsafe in a religious or cultural space because of their political beliefs, and that welcoming an individual while censoring their opinions represents little more than probationary community membership,” the statement said.

There are nearly 700 Jewish students at Wesleyan, or some 25 percent of the campus population, according to Hillel’s College Guide.

Swarthmore College Hillel became the first chapter of the Jewish campus organization to declare itself an “Open Hillel” — part of a student movement that says its goal is to “encourage inclusivity and open discourse at campus Hillels.”

Hillel International’s Guidelines for Campus Israel Activities reject partnerships with groups or hosting speakers who deny Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state; delegitimize, demonize or apply double standards to Israel; support boycott, divestment and sanctions efforts against Israel; or foster an atmosphere of incivility.

The policy encourages individual campus Hillels to adopt their own policies that are “consistent” with these guidelines.

Daniel Mael, co-founder of “Safe Hillel”— a group created as an alternative to Open Hillel and to ensure that Hillel “remains a safe place for Jews of all backgrounds who want to practice Judaism and support Israel” — responded, saying, “Unfortunately these [Wesleyan] students are opening the door to anti-Semitic and/or anti-Zionist speakers to have a forum in Hillel. I think it is inappropriate and adds to the atmosphere of intimidation that pro-Israel students face on campus from anti-Israel bullies.” — jta &


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