So this is another example of what I was talking about last weekend. This is the type of thing that can and does make diaspora Jews and diaspora Jewish institutions complicit and guilty of Israeli crimes.
Here we have UCLA’s Hillel, an on-campus organization that probably serves hundreds of students, spending significant financial resources to defeat a resolution demanding the university divest from American companies that profit off of the suffering of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.
Think about that for a second. Think about the level of dehumanizing discourse that took place at this Hillel to the point where they agreed the best course of action was to support the companies that engaged in human rights violations.
By leading his organization in a fight to perpetuate the status quo, Rabbi Aaron Lerner has Palestinian blood on his hands. The students who gave their presentation against divesting from these — again — American companies are equally complicit. The other students and staff at this Hillel have a moral obligation to speak out against these actions. These are the undeniable facts.
I’m aware of Open Hillel and their efforts to get Hillel to take a neutral stance on Israel, but it’s important to recognize that this goes way beyond just Hillel. During the summer massacre on Gaza, Chabad urged its members do to “do a Mitzvah for Israel” and “write to an IDF soldier.” The JCC Association maintains extensive ties with Israel, including conducting regular trips and seminars in occupied Palestine, such as this “solidarity” visit.
Such is the dehumanization of Palestinians in many Jewish institutions that B’nai Brith — an organization dedicated to community service — launched a full-fledged PR attack on the Conflict Kitchen in Pittsburgh for the crime of serving Palestinian food with messages from Palestinians on the wrapping paper. The Anti-Defamation League’s national director Abe Foxman justified the racist blanket surveillance of Muslims and their mosques, arguing that it’s driven by a fear for safety and security. His organization along with the American Jewish Congress led a deeply cynical and racist misinformation campaign against Muslim graduating students at the University of California Irvine, simply because they wanted to wear Islamic graduation stoles.
This is to say nothing of the political advocacy organizations that are explicitly committed to defending and supporting Israel, such as the Friends of the IDF, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, AIPAC, J Street and many others.
Look, every community has its bad apples. That’s not what this is about. Rather the theme throughout all of this is that incidents like UCLA Hillel’s disgusting support for American corporate complicity in Israeli crimes keeps happening over and over and over and over again and again, and nothing ever happens to the people involved. Rabbi Aaron Lerner’s job is not threatened, or if it is, it isn’t because his leadership showed callousness towards Palestinian wellbeing. Bnai Brith hasn’t faced any censure for its actions, nor has Abe Foxman or his ADL or the AJC, and so on and so on. The organizations I talk about here enjoy widespread support. That’s a major problem, and anyone who denies the severity of this problem cannot claim to be an ally or supporter of the Palestinian people. I don’t know the best way for the issues I bring up in this post need to be addressed, but they need to be addressed. Period.