Open Hillel Academic Council


Proud to be a part of the newly formed Open Hillel Academic Council, a group of professors, many friends and colleagues, primarily in Jewish Studies, spanning a variety of disciplines in the Humanities and the spectrum of liberal Zionist, non-Zionist, and anti-Zionist opinion. You can find here the entire statement and current list of members.

My own personal take is this. In theory, Open Hillel remains open to and invites the full spectrum of Jewish politics, from left to right. Invitations were sent to right of center Jewish community voices to join, but they were declined. In practice, Open Hillel and its Academic Council is a liberal and leftist umbrella group, the central preoccupations of which are Israel, Zionism, the Occupation and Palestine. Like Open Hillel itself, the academic council reflects varying degrees of dismay and opposition to what has been widely perceived as the sharp right wing tilt of the Jewish public sphere in the United States and in Israel.

Formally, here’s the statement we all signed off on:

“As an academic, I support Open Hillel’s efforts to restore the values of critical inquiry, inclusivity, and disputation to Jewish campus communities. Hillel International’s Standards of Partnership narrowly circumscribe discourse about Israel-Palestine and only serve to foster estrangement from the organized Jewish community. Regardless of my own political beliefs, I reject any attempts to stifle conversation about Israel-Palestine, ostracize student or faculty activists, or monitor the speech of students or intellectuals inside Hillel and the campus ­at ­large. Just as our classrooms must be spaces that embrace diversity of experience and opinion, so must Hillel. By joining Open Hillel’s academic council, I affirm my commitment to bringing these values to life both in my classroom and in my community.”

There are sharp disagreement across the group re: Israel, Palestine, 1948, the Right of Return, Zionism, One State or Two States, and BDS. I’m glad to see that liberal Zionists are in the game. As for the Academic Council itself, don’t confuse it with Open Hillel, which is a student run organization. Our only say in the organization is to put our names behind it. I expect and hope that, like all advisory boards, that the Academic Council will go largely ignored.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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6 Responses to Open Hillel Academic Council

  1. dmf says:

    worth giving it a try, do you know has anyone looked at being Jewish along the lines of Wittgenstein on familial-resemblances?

    • zjb says:

      not per se, but it’s sort of like a default and broadly and implicitly accepted common sense position.

      • dmf says:

        that surprises me, would have thought people would have something(s) more essential if not essentialist to their expectations/descriptions/norms.

  2. When you start your friendly conversations about whether or not to boycott Israel or work towards its destruction, please include me in any blacklists that might be drawn up.

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