The Harvard College Progressive Jewish Alliance condemns Hillel International’s threats of legal action over Swarthmore Hillel’s plans to host longtime Jewish civil rights activists in their Jewish community.
Earlier this month, we were proud to host one of these activists, Dorothy Zellner, on an interfaith panel on religious traditions and racial justice in Harvard Hillel. This conversation, convened by PJA, the Black Students Association, the Harvard Islamic Society, and the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations, brought together four activists from a variety of backgrounds who discussed their work on civil rights and racial justice fights past and present. Dorothy Zellner also discussed how her experiences in the U.S. civil rights movement have led her to support boycotts, divestment, and sanctions to end the Israeli Occupation and achieve full civil rights for Palestinians.
We strongly believe that American Jews must not shy away from conversations about civil rights and social justice, but rather must engage with these key issues of our day.
We are shocked and outraged by Hillel International's attempts to stifle these conversations and intimidate their own students into silence. We support Jewish students at Swarthmore -- as well as Jewish students at MIT and UMass Amherst, who were barred from hosting Jewish civil rights activists in their Hillels -- who are working to bring conversations about civil rights and racial justice into their Jewish communities. We call upon Hillel International to withdraw its threats against Swarthmore. We further call upon Hillel International to eliminate its exclusionary Standards of Partnership, which stymie open discourse in Jewish spaces on campus.