Vassar’s Closed Open Hillel

The Vassar Jewish Union issued a statement yesterday regarding its “Open Hillel.” The prestigious liberal arts college spewed forth a lot of sound and fury signifying their pluralistic nature:

We recognize that identification with Israel is not necessarily an integral part of every individual’s Jewish identity. We commit to providing a spiritual and cultural home for Jewish expression in any form.

Translation: We can express our Judaism any way we like, such as, for instance, eating ham only on alternate Thursdays and hating on Israel.

Vassar Students enjoying pluralism.

Vassar Students enjoying pluralism.

Of course, their real issue is that currently, Hillel’s international standards prohibit:

Partnering with, housing, or hosting organizations, groups, or speakers who: “1) Deny the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish and democratic state with secure and recognized borders; 2) Delegitimize, demonize, or apply a double standard to Israel; 3) Support boycott of, divestment from, or sanctions against the State of Israel; and 4) Exhibit a pattern of disruptive behavior towards campus events or guest speakers or foster an atmosphere of incivility.

Vassar's pluralistic library.

Vassar’s pluralistic library.

Well, Vassar students don’t think that’s fair so THERE (hands on hips). Pluralism means they don’t have to accept the existence of Israel as a Jewish state with secure borders. I mean, the NERVE of Hillel to tell privileged progressive VASSAR students that they can’t listen to anti-Israel speakers from the Jewish Voice for Peace. The NERVE of Hillel to suggest that Israel has any right to ANY LAND AT ALL, let alone SECURITY.

Harrumph.

But of course, the real issue is this: Vassar’s Open Hillel is not open.

It’s rather closed, actually. It’s closed to students who might, for instance, believe that it is incumbent upon every Jew to support the notion of Israel as the Jewish homeland. Vassar’s Open Hillel would be closed to those who believe in the Jewish commandment–the Jewish imperative–of every Jew to settle the land of Israel.

We believe that Hillel International’s goal to “inspire every Jewish college student to develop a meaningful and enduring relationship to Israel” does not represent the diverse opinions of young American Jews. We believe that fostering a pluralistic community and supporting all Jewish life on campus cannot be achieved with Hillel International’s Israel Guidelines in place.

We believe, we believe, we believe.

Actually, belief has very little to do with it. As any person of intellectual honesty might note, pluralism at Vassar is not pluralism at all, for it excludes the believing Jewish faithful who would find it unthinkable to cede any part of, for instance, Jerusalem:

Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I remember thee not; if I set not Jerusalem above my chiefest joy. (Psalms 137:6)

Was Vassar's Open Hillel open to Jews in 1862?

Was Vassar’s Open Hillel open to Jews in 1862?

Vassar’s Jewish Union through its pretensions to pluralism omits from its hallowed halls those Jews who believe the Jews must settle every part of Biblical Israel in order to properly observe the tenets of their Jewish faith. Vassar’s false sense of pluralism would deem those who believe that Israel belongs to all Jews, and only to Jews, anathema.

THOSE Jews would surely find the doors of the Vassar Open Hillel, tightly shut.

 

 

About Varda Epstein

A third-generation-born Pittsburgher on her mother’s mother’s side, Varda moved to Israel 34 years ago and is a crazy political animal who spams people with right wing political articles on Facebook in between writing about education as the communications writer at Kars for Kids, raising her 12 children, and noshing constantly on fried food

comments

  • To

    As a Vassar student and member of the Jewish community who is openly supportive of Israel, I have to disagree with your conclusions. The VJU is not meant to be an oasis of unconditional approval of Israel but rather a home for Jewish religious, cultural, and spiritual life on campus. My peers that are critical of Israel have every right to be a part of our Jewish community and feel welcomed in it as I do. Should I wish to discuss matters relating to Israel away from the publicly critical eye there are other avenues for me to do so.
    Furthermore, it is not beneficial to any intellectual discussions to limit interaction between opposing factions. By denying the opinion of an opponent one loses her own credibility. Hillel International’s guidelines are hurting the peace-seeking critical Zionist movement.

    • Norman_In_New_York

      Oh, baloney. They can always change the group’s name to J Street On Campus and nobody will utter a peep. Hijacking and subverting Hillel’s good name amounts to fraud.

      • Varda Meyers Epstein

        Agree with Norman.

    • Varda Meyers Epstein

      Oh dear unnamed Vassar student, it is wrong for Jews to speak out against Israel even if Peter Beinart says otherwise. Your grandparents knew that, but your generation has forgotten.

      Israel is the Jewish homeland and it has enough detractors. We don’t need our own people criticizing Israel. Israel is your family. You should be ashamed.

      • Harvela

        Spot on . Well said !

    • Tzanchan77

      Right, that’s why the President of Vassar Hillel is a member of that disgusting organization called Students for Justice in Palestine

      http://s149435.gridserver.com/2013/10/02/student-group-explores-geo-political-palestinian-issues/

      • Varda Meyers Epstein

        Thanks for sharing Tzanchan77. Now I will go take a bath. I feel dirty.

      • Harvela

        Good find
        #Trojanhorse

    • ahad_ha_amoratsim

      Your peers who are critical of Israel’s policies, yes. Your peers who seek an end to Israel’s existence, or who work hand in hand with those who do, or who swallow and spread outrageous lies and exaggerations about Israel’s supposed crimes, no.
      Not unconditional approval of everything Israel does, but unconditional approval of Israel’s right to live, which includes the right to defend itself against aggressors, even when those aggressors paint themselves as victims, and even when innocent bystanders are hurt as a result.
      See the distinction? It’s easy!

  • Hard Little Machine

    We should push to have Hamas and the American Nazi Party speak there.

    • Varda Meyers Epstein

      Hard Little Machine, you should push to have pro-Israel events there and nothing else. Period. Support for Israel should be unequivocal.

      • Hard Little Machine

        I tend to think you can’t shame the shameless. If the local NAACP wants to host a KKK meeting in the ‘spirit of tolerance’ or if the local women’s shelter wants to host a debate on whether domestic violence is really such a terrible thing, then fine. They can do that. But what they have lost is the right to call themselves Hillel, or the NAACP or the Women’s Shelter. They can call themselves something else and what that something else is, who cares.

        • Varda Meyers Epstein

          I agree with you there. They should totally call themselves something else. I vote for Clueless.

          • ahad_ha_amoratsim

            Sorry, the US already elected Clueless.

            • Varda Meyers Epstein

              *giggling*

              • ahad_ha_amoratsim

                And unfortunately my Jewish countrymen voted for him in about the same 1 to 5 ratio that dabney_c (based, I assume, on Rashi) mentioned a few minutes ago. If that’s coincidence, it’s a scary one. And if it’s not coincidence, it’s even scarier.

                • dabney_c

                  Yes, Rashi.

                  • ahad_ha_amoratsim

                    Baruch sh’kevanti!

  • kane Ali

    You are confusing things. Jewish students who believe unwavering support for Israel is necessary, are still allowed to be part of/give presentation with Hillel. The only difference, is now, so can left-wing Jews, who may not unconditionally support Israel’s crimes, or, care about the conflict either way.

    • Norman_In_New_York

      What crimes?

      • dabney_c

        The crimes of being and thriving.

        • ahad_ha_amoratsim

          And fighting back. And defending the lives of Jews. And being a home to Jews from all over the world.
          And giving Arabs more freedoms than any Arab country does. And protecting Muslim women from honor killing. And — I could go on all day and I’m not even zoche to live there.

    • Harvela

      Your the one who is confused . Try Mondoweiss .

      • ahad_ha_amoratsim

        Or Lowenbrau. After 8 or 9 of those, the quality of her thinking will improve.

    • Varda Meyers Epstein

      Kane Ali, that’s incorrect. Hillel has international standards. If you don’t agree with them, take your leftist criticism of the Jewish homeland somewhere else. Crimes? Crimes? The crime is the inability to separate Arab propaganda from the truth about Israel being the only place in the Middle East where Arabs feel safe.

  • Harvela

    You know what you signed up for . You know what Hillel stands for . If you don’t like it , support it , live it then go join JVP . There is no half way house . The game is up . Go play Trojan horse somewhere else .

    • Varda Meyers Epstein

      But that’s not what happened here. They just ran roughshod over them and did their own thing. It’s happening in other places, too. Hillel isn’t doing enough to combat this stuff. They’re afraid.

      • Harvela

        Then Hillel needs to go over its Articles of Association and enforce them . Legally . These individuals are intent on destroying the Jewish nation state from the inside out . Regard them as you would any other element of the BDS Israel demonising brigade .

        • Varda Meyers Epstein

          And that’s what I tried to tell the Hillel representative sitting in a booth at the Jerusalem GA a few months ago. But she was utterly clueless. They need to get their act together in order to be effective.

          I absolutely DO view this element as I do the BDS movement and others who demonize Israel.

        • ahad_ha_amoratsim

          Exactly. That’s what Hillel did at Swarthmore. Looks like it’s time to do it again.

  • orangeandolive

    Actually, the current Hillel International rules would exclude “Jews who believe the Jews must settle every part of Biblical Israel in order to properly observe the tenets of their Jewish faith.” The rules call for support of Israel as a “Jewish an democratic state,” and the “Greater Israel” doctrine is undeniably anti-democratic (because to have a Jewish state in all of Biblical Israel would mean either forcibly expelling Palestinians or not allowing them to vote). The current Hillel International rules call for Hillels to biased in favor of Israel, but also implicitly insist on a two-state solution and thereby exclude students who believe in “Greater Israel”. If the Open Hillel campaign succeeds, Hillels would actually be more inclusive for students who call for “Greater Israel,” because all perspectives would be included and no students would be excluded on the basis of their political views on Israel.

    • Varda Meyers Epstein

      I agree. I wanted to expose the nature of Vassar’s pluralism as the lie that it is. There is nothing open about Vassar’s Open Hillel.

      • orangeandolive

        No, my point is that Vassar’s Open Hillel is actually more open to the students you support (those who believe in Greater Israel) than it was before, under Hillel International’s rules. The Open Hillel campaign is fighting against Hillel International’s rules, and Hillel International’s rules would exclude students who believe in Greater Israel. So, for the students you support, Open Hillel is actually an improvement, because it calls for there to be no political restrictions, including on the students whose views you support.

        • Varda Meyers Epstein

          Ah. I see what you’re saying. I don’t agree. If you’re allowing Dibat Haaretz, you’re excluding traditional Jews who aren’t allowed to hear such talk, for instance. If you allow non-kosher food at events, you’d exclude the religious.What pluralism really means is ditching the Torah and doing your own thing.

          • Lex Rofes

            Lots of Hillels allow non-kosher food at events with no complaint from Hillel International.

            • ahad_ha_amoratsim

              Sad, but true. It started at our Hillel in the early to mid-1990′s. Whether International knows, I cannot say.

              • Lex Rofes

                Lol they know. Most of the employees in the international office don’t keep kosher.

            • Varda Meyers Epstein

              That’s a pity.

              • Simone Kaye

                Not merely a pity. It’s a disgrace.

        • ahad_ha_amoratsim

          Your assumption that Greater Israel would necessary be undemocratic is not the slam dunk you seem to think it is. Space precludes addressing that misconception on this thread.

    • ahad_ha_amoratsim

      Wrong. The so-called demographic time bomb is a long-debunked but ever popular myth. Israel could annex those areas and still have a comfortable Jewish majority.

      • LJ Spivak

        I don’t know about that ahad. As matters currently stand, the resulting State (excluding Gaza, I presume) would be no more than 60% Jewish and no less than 40% Arab. Assuming that Israel doesn’t choose the apartheid option, that’s already a little close for comfort. The secular Jewish population is growing slowly, while the haredi and Religious/nationalist Jewish population is expanding at a rate roughly equal to Arab population growth, but is currently roughly only a quarter to a third of the Jewish population. Arab population growth is slower in Judea and Samaria and inside the Green Line than in Gaza, but it’s still very high. Jewish immigration these days is low, though it could pick up if there were a peaceful resolution of the conflict. If there were a contest as to which group would become a permanent majority, I don’t know what the result would be. I suspect the Arabs would be mostly accepting of this solution, though I also suspect they would agitate for a Palestinian right of return law equivalent to the one that currently applies to Jews. Maybe the answer is a federated (or confederated) state along the lines of the old Austria-Hungary, with incorporation into the Israel or Palestine portion being determined by municipal boundaries. I prefer a two state solution, but if Israelis and Palestinians eventually arrive together at something else they can both live with, it is not my place to argue with that.

        • ahad_ha_amoratsim

          Arab population growth is slowing as their economic opportunities and education level increase. Federated state did not work in Lebanon — Jews cannot trust their defense to anyone else. Israel could also annex the ‘settlements’ without annexing the Arab villages or the land currently under PA misrule. An Arab right of return is a non-starter and there is no moral or legal reason that Israel should accept one.

  • LJ Spivak

    Gee thanks, you’ve pretty much insulted every diaspora Jew and every non-Orthodox Jew. And then you expect us to support you in the fantasy that you can have Judea and Samaria and remain a Jewish and democratic state. Good luck with that. As to you other point, yes the Vassar Hillel should be open to hearing your point of view and that of people who share it. But agreeing to that implies that it should be open to hearing the opposite points of view as well.

    • Varda Meyers Epstein

      LJ, I don’t expect any support from you whatsoever. That is where you are dead wrong. I live where I live by the grace of God and not by the grace of American Jewry. If we part ways, so be it. Your choice.

      As to your last point, that’s a WRONG Western notion. The fact is that being a Torah Jew precludes hearing people speak out against Israel or doing anything to harm other Jews, such as those living in Israel who might be affected by BDS. The Torah precludes disseminating Arab propaganda against Israel and it precludes listening to it.

      • LJ Spivak

        First of all, as the Vassar student points out, Hillel is not an organization dedicated to what you consider to be “Torah” Judaism, so don’t expect them to be bound by the strictures you would place on them. Secondly, Israel has relatively little support in the World, and you’re willing to throw most of that away because you live by the grace of God. Well, so did the blessed victims of the Shoah. For your sake, I hope that His grace offers you more protection than it did for them.
        Your contempt for any Jews who don’t share your interpretation of what being a Torah Jew means and requires is pretty obvious. Essentially, we agree with you or we are not “Torah” Jews – that is not really Jews at all.

        • Varda Meyers Epstein

          First of all, I agree that Hillel is not dedicated to Torah Judaism. That’s not the issue here. The issue here is that Vassar Jewish students want permission to disassociate from Israel and to delegitimize Israel and this is against the international standards of their host organization.

          Second of all, I’m not throwing anything away. American Jewry is throwing something away: their Yiddishkeit. It’s a choice they’ve made: to hate Israel and love the Palestinians. They are cutting themselves off from their heritage and their people and think that they’re being progressive and pluralistic when all they are doing is being sheeple captive to a false narrative and hurting their own people in the process, not to mention the generations to come.

          Rather than be tolerant, I am active in exposing the stupidity and evil of this behavior and hope this will make some of them stop and think and check the facts the next time someone tells them a made up story about Palestinian woes and land claims.

          Now that you’ve brought in the Shoah, you’ve managed to prove Godwin’s Law while saying something about the victims of that Shoah that makes absolutely NO sense whatsoever.

          I don’t have contempt for Diaspora pork-eating Israel-hating Jews. I have contempt for their choices.

          • ahad_ha_amoratsim

            I’m a diaspora Jew and I wasn’t insulted either, but I have no stomach to set him straight. Kol havod to you for trying.
            While you’re at it, please ask him to drop the pathetic lie that Orthodox Jews think that he isn’t Jewish. If we thought that, we wouldn’t be Orthodox Jews, would we? (Then again, we do believe that if his mother was not Jewish and he did not convert, he isn’t a Jew no matter what he does or doesn’t do.)

            • Varda Meyers Epstein

              Well, ahad_ha_amoratsim, you don’t sound like an Am HaAretz at all. You sound like you’ve got a good kop on your shoulders. Kol HaKavod.

              The way I see it is that a prophecy is being fulfilled: we’ll always be a small nation. One that outlives every other. Works for me. People like you will be part of that. Others will opt out. It’s a choice.

              • ahad_ha_amoratsim

                What is it that makes Jews from the Greater McKeesport area (that includes Pittsburgh, of course) so insightful? Whatever it is, we need to export it to other parts of the US.

                • Varda Meyers Epstein

                  I KNEW there was something I liked about you. You are giving me a chance to brag about something that is meaningless anywhere outside of that area. I am Myron Cope’s NIECE. Double Yoi! Go Stillers.

                  • ahad_ha_amoratsim

                    Can you get Duquesne B’Eretz? Much better than Iron in my opinion, though I haven’t had either one in decades. (No more about my location — not Pgh unfortunately — lest I blow my cover.)

                    • Varda Meyers Epstein

                      Nope. But we have a guy who has a mancave for Steelers games and he once pasted fake Ahrn stickers on local beer bottles when he found it would be too expensive to import the real thing.

                  • LJ Spivak

                    No wonder I’m having such trouble with you people. Go Ravens!

                    • ahad_ha_amoratsim

                      Go Ravens? Baltimore is one of my favorite US cities, but you stole the Browns from Cleveland, and you point a finger at Israel for “stealing” land that was already Jewish?

            • LJ Spivak

              If you’re not insulted by Varda’s insistence that the Torah commands us to settle in all of Eretz Yisrael, then why haven’t you made aliyah and settled in Pisagot? She has proclaimed that only people who share her belief are really “Torah” Jews. And if you do share that belief, then by remaining in the diaspora, you are by your own definition not really a “Torah” Jew. You might as well eat pork every other Thursday.

              • ahad_ha_amoratsim

                Maybe I’m not insulted because I read her article and you merely emoted your way through it. Maybe because I realize that not every Jew is privileged to personally perform every mitzvah. Maybe because your pathetic attempt to put words in Varda’s mouth, and in mine (‘you are by your own definition not really a “Torah” Jew’? Really?), together with your woeful ignorance of Israel’s history and the ‘settlements’ make me wonder if you have a even modicum of intelligence remaining after your public school miseducation.

                As to why I have not settled in Pisagot, there are a several reasons, including my preference for one or two other cities in Israel, family reasons that are none of your business, and because I do not want to burden Eretz Yisrael by moving there without without being able to contribute to the country’s economy and defense.

                • LJ Spivak

                  Varda’s response to me was to state that she doesn’t have contempt for other diaspora Jews who don’t share her religious views, but for their choices. It seems pretty much like a distinction without a difference. But I’ll reply in kind that I don’t have contempt for Orthodox Jewry (quite the opposite in fact, since it is impossible not to admire people who willingly subject themselves to difficult restriction in their lifestyle in service to God), but merely for the absolutism of those that insist that Orthodoxy, or a particular form of Orthodoxy, is the only valid and acceptable way to practice Judaism. As for my “public school education,” I’ll take a public school education that teaches critical thinking and examination of all sides of an issue and all the facts over one that teaches that only one side is always in the right, the other side is just telling lies and is pretty much unredeemably evil, and that we have a monopoly on truth. And believe me, I am not remotely ignorant of Israel’s history. Indeed, I’d wager I have at least as complete knowledge of that history as you.

                  • ahad_ha_amoratsim

                    So you admire the Orthodox but disagree with the very concept of Orthodoxy. Interesting.
                    As to public school, I had a public school education that did indeed teach critical thinking, as well as critical reading — two skills that seem to have dropped from the curriculum some time before the mid-1980s or so.

                    • LJ Spivak

                      I’d like to argue with your characterization, just for the fun of it, but actually, I think you’ve nailed it. More than most religious orthodoxies, Orthodox Judaism gives considerable scope for critical thinking, but within strictly proscribed limits. And I admire some things about the Orthodox, as I mentioned above. So long as they persist and persevere, there will always be Jews, something that probably can’t be said of less observant Jews. That said, I generally don’t like absolute certainties, and the Orthodox have more of those than I am comfortable with. I would not argue that there are no absolute certainties in life – the Torah certainly contains a number of them. But as marvelous as the Torah may be, I can’t see a book that was set to paper 3,000 years ago as an infallible guide to how a human being should live, or even how a Jew should live.

                  • ahad_ha_amoratsim

                    “but merely for the absolutism of those that insist that Orthodoxy, or a particular form of Orthodoxy, is the only valid and acceptable way to practice Judaism. ”

                    That’s a common misconception. First, we believe that even the transgressors among the Jews are as filled with mitzvos as a pomegranate is filled with seeds. (Chagiga 145b-146a).

                    But more important, we agree with you that there are many ways to be a Jew, and in fact there are many ways to be a Torah Jew. But in order to be a Torah Jew, one has to be committed to keeping the mitzvos.

                    See if this analogy helps. Most Americans would agree that there are many ways to be an American. But if you want to be a Law Abiding American, you have to be committed to following the country’s laws. You may
                    slip up now and then. (In fact, one former federal prosecutor estimates that there are so many obscure administrative regulations that most Americans commit
                    five felonies a day without realizing it.) But if you decide that it’s too inconvenient to pay your income tax, or too expensive to declare all your income, or that the environmental laws do not apply to you, or that it’s okay
                    to speed if there are no cops around, well, you are still an American, you may still be a good American, and you may love your country – but you are no longer a Law
                    Abiding American, even while you are not speeding, until you realize that the law applies to you, too.

                    So it is, l’havdil (to draw a comparison between something sacred and something that is not), there are many ways to be Jewish. And there are many ways to be a Torah Jew, and Torah Jews slip up just like everybody else. It’s often misunderstood, and people (some Jews and l’havdil some non-Jews) often resent us for it, but there’s no reason we need to apologize for it.

                    I am hoping not to post much today, and it’s getting late in Eretz Yisrael (where, alas, I am not), so this may be the best time for me to wish you and all on the thread a good Shabbos.

                    • LJ Spivak

                      I appreciate the explanation, though it doesn’t square very well with Orthodox rejections of Conservative and Reform conversions and Conservative and Reform participation in the religious governance of Israel.

          • LJ Spivak

            In point of fact I actually agree that Hillel has no business supporting the dissemination of anti-Israel propaganda. Where I disagree is with your position that Jewish students who want to hear such drivel shouldn’t be able to do so, or that listening to it is in and of itself contrary to Jewish law. I also agree that acting in a manner that is contrary to Jewish interests or the moral precepts of the Torah would be contrary to Jewish law. However, we apparently differ as to what would constitute the latter. In my mind it would be difficult to support an Israel that “transfers” the Arab population from Judea and Samaria (ethnic cleansing), or kills them in their masses (genocide), or annexes the land and allows them to remain as residents with something a lot less than full civil and political rights (apartheid). NO, I don’t think or claim that Israel has done any of those things, and I firmly hope it never does, because any of them would be far more anathema to Jewish law and Judaism than a diaspora Jew eating pork. And for the record it is quite possible to be a pork-eating, Israel-loving diaspora Jew.

            • Varda Meyers Epstein

              I stated no such position regarding the right of Jewish students to listen to drivel. In fact, I stated the opposite. God gives us free will. If someone wants to listen to drivel, it is his choice. I said that: it’s all about choices. I would never stop them. But it sure wouldn’t happen under my auspices or in my home.

              If you don’t know that listening to negative stories about Israel is contrary to Jewish law, it can only be because you haven’t studied that particular aspect of the law. It’s not about agreeing or disagreeing. It’s about the law and what that law is.

              If you think it is anathema to transfer Arabs, what did you think of Disengagement, I wonder? And why do you, in your wisdom, get to decide which sins earn greater punishments than others?

              I do realize that one can be a pork-eating Israel-loving Jew. That is an obvious truth. Most people have some commandments they cherish and observe more than others. I have non-observant friends who live in and cherish Israel quite clearly more than many observant Jews who live in the Diaspora.

              Choices.

              • LJ Spivak

                You’re right – I don’t know of any Jewish law that precludes one from listening to negative stories about Israel. Since I don’t ever claim to be an expert on Jewish law, I will accept your word for it. That said, can you tell me if it is applicable to negative stories about Israel that are entirely factual? Or is it a prohibition against listening and giving credence to falsehoods and slanders against Israel? The latter would be more in keeping with my understanding of things, but I will defer to your knowledge on the issue.
                On Disengagement (and I take it to mean the withdrawal from Gaza and the forcible expulsion of the Jews living there, but correct me if I’ve misunderstood), I wasn’t crazy about it when it happened, and the result has been pretty awful, hasn’t it? On the other hand, would you have preferred it if the Israeli Government hadn’t forced the Gaza settlers to leave and had instead just withdrawn the Israeli army? And the act of Disengagement reflected the will of the considerable majority of Israelis in a democratic society. Should a relatively small minority have been allowed to thwart that will?
                As for transfer of Arabs, in my opinion it is anathema because it goes against the respect for human life, dignity, and freedom that underlies Jewish law. I would guess that it could become acceptable under Jewish law if it is the only way to prevent a much larger shedding of blood. I would say it is not acceptable if it is done simply to permit the repopulation of the land by Jews. Even when Joshua first conquered Eretz Yisrael, that didn’t happen. Though the conquest was bloody, the Canaanites remained in the Land under Israelite rule. The Maccabees kicked the idolators out of the Temple, and killed those who would have prevented them from reestablishing Jewish rule in the land, but they also didn’t kick all the Greeks and Hellenized Jews out.
                Ultimately, you are completely right that I don’t get to determine what is the greater sin. Neither do you, though. All either of us can do is state our opinion on the subject, and God alone decides. Of course, in the meanwhile, it would be highly surprising if much of the rest of the World didn’t do its best to punish Israel for the act, no matter how well justified it was. To the extent that God allowed such punishment to occur, would that be his answer?

                • Varda Meyers Epstein

                  Yes. It is applicable to negative stories about Israel that are entirely factual. It’s also prohibited to listen to falsehoods or to give them credence. Negative true tales are one category of forbidden speech, negative false tales are another. Listening to or telling either are prohibited.

                  It’s interesting that you call 8,500 people a minority. That’s how many Jews were kicked out of Gaza against their will. THAT, is ethnic cleansing.

                  The sign you see here: http://citystatepost.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/pic1.jpg is just outside my town, at the entrance to the neighboring Arab town, as it is at the entrance to all Arab towns in Judea and Samaria.

                  Where the sign says “entrance for Israeli citizens forbidden,” I can assure you that if an Israeli Arab, one with Israeli citizenship, were to enter this area, nothing would happen. What that phrase actually means is, “no Jews allowed.”

                  That sign is all over Judea and Samaria, the heartland of the biblical land of Israel.

                  Additionally, take note of Abbas’ statement regarding a future Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria: http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Abbas-wants-not-a-single-Israeli-in-future-Palestinian-state-321470

                  “In a final resolution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli – civilian or soldier – on our lands,” Abbas said.

                  In other words, the PA leadership (as does Hamas) insists that a PA state will be Judenrein.

                  At the entrance to Efrat, there is no sign forbidding Arabs entrance. They freely come and go on our buses, in our supermarkets, and everywhere that the public congregates.

                  Ethnic cleansing is Disengagement. Ethnic cleansing is removing Jews from Judea and Samaria and forbidding them entrance to Arab towns.

                  You ask me if I would prefer the army left the Jewish people in Gaza remain but leave them defenseless. This is a stupid question. This is a choice? Be expelled or be killed? Because you can’t stay in your home/homeland anymore because Arabs want you out?

                  Where did you get the idea that the majority of Israelis wanted Disengagement? In fact, the opposite was true. There was a referendum. The will of the people was AGAINST the plan. The government went ahead and did it anyway.

                  As for transfer, you don’t just transfer people. You offer them the financial means to build a new life. Perhaps they could be given a choice to pledge allegiance to the state and receive citizenship or be offered a financial package to make a new start elsewhere. But this is OUR land. If they don’t accept that, it’s their right. If they don’t wish to live under Jewish sovereignty, they should leave.

                  I don’t weigh sins and commandments. I don’t follow the Torah out of fear of punishment. I follow the Torah because I love the Torah. I don’t think about whether it’s worse to eat pork or hate Israel or transfer Arabs. It’s irrelevant to my observance. I observe because I have reverence for God and His Torah.

                  I am proud to be a Jew. I am happy and proud to claim my inheritance. And I won’t let Diaspora Jews try to make me slice it into pieces to give to a green-eyed enemy that kills us from within with violence and from without with a false narrative.

            • Norman_In_New_York

              What Jewish students should or should not be allowed to hear is a red herring with respect to this thread. Hillel was created to give Jewish students a safe haven with which to affirm their cultural heritage and communal solidarity. The far left is engaged in a sinister and evil plot to destroy that haven and undermine that solidarity. No one is putting a gun to the head of any Jewish student and forcing her to join Hillel. Anyone who doesn’t like Hillel’s rules is free to associate elsewhere.

              • dabney_c

                This reminds me – many years ago, I worked in a group home for developmentally handicapped Jewish adults. It was a Jewish organization that was run under a Judaic mandate, which included rules about keeping kosher kitchens in the homes. One brilliant employee decided to lodge an official complaint that the kosher policy was infringing on his right to eat whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted, wherever he wanted. Telling him that nobody forced him to take this particular job at this particular organization didn’t make a dent in his moral indignation.

                In other words, if Jews Against Israel want to exercise their human right to oppose decency and truth, then they don’t need to hijack Hillel to do it. They can set up their own “Jewish Voices For The Destruction Of The Jewish State” as a campus alternative to Hillel.

                • Harvela

                  That misses the point . This is not about setting up competing campus alternative . This is about replacement theory . Something akin to supercessionist theory . Destroy the host from within or negate its very foundations and legitimacy . This is what is happening here .
                  Sometime after the end of the second intifada and realising violence on its own was not going to be instrumental in destroying Israel , I believe strategists came together to plan a comprehensive multi platform means of attacking Israel with the long term objective of destroying it . So began BDS in all its forms but also the creative thinkers came to realise that integral to their plans was the need to separate Israel off from the diaspora . A long term plan was conceived to infiltrate campus and begin the process of indoctrinating the Jewish student youth , naturally idealist and liberal without the harsh reality of experience behind them . A youth that can be turned becomes the leaders of our people tomorrow . The outcome 10 -15 years down the line , no AIPAC , no connection to Israel . Chain broken .
                  That’s the logic behind what is going on . It’s not rocket science . It’s bleeding obvious . I hope and trust our great and our good have got a handle on it and do something to stem the damage

                  • ahad_ha_amoratsim

                    “replacement theory . Something akin to supercessionist theory . Destroy the host from within or negate its very foundations and legitimacy .”.
                    Exactly. This used to be called subversion, I believe.

                  • dabney_c

                    Why did I miss the point? I’m saying exactly what you’re saying. The Jewish students who fight against Israel do so mainly because of indoctrination by the massive “pro-Palestinian” culture and relentless propaganda in Universities, coupled with an already weak connection to their Jewish identity. By subverting Hillel, they crowd out the pro-Israel voices while crowing about their superior liberal values, freedom of speech, respect for competing narratives, blah blah. I’m just highlighting their “supercessionist” agenda and pointing out that Hillel should not tolerate it within their organization.

        • ahad_ha_amoratsim

          Many of the victims of the Shoah relied on the good will of their gentile friends, neighbors and business associates. The percentage death toll was high among the Jews of Germany, Austria and Hungary, which were among the most assimilated populations in Europe. The Shoah reinforces the lesson of Purim: assimilation is no guarantor of survival, and trust in anything other than G-d is a recipe for disaster.

          We are taught that when someone puts his trust in anything other than G-d, G-d leaves that person to the mercy of whatever it was he trusted in, in order to demonstrate that no one except G-d can be trusted, because only G-d is both all powerful and faithful.

          This does NOT mean that we are permitted to sit back and wait for G-d to do something; we are of course required to do everything possible for our own survival, EXCEPT for things that would violate Torah. As you probably know, there are situations where Torah requires us to go so far as to commit prohibited acts, other than murder, idol worship and sexual immorality, to preserve human life. But it does not permit us to give up acting like Jews, or looking out for other Jews, in the vain hope that doing so will cause non-Jews to like us for it.

    • Harvela

      And you insult our intelligence by having us accept your premise that the settlements are what separates Israel and the Palestinians from an irrevocable peace accord . If that was the case why did the Palestinians fail to declare statehood at any time between 1948 and 1967 when there was no so called occupation and no settlements . Your naive idealism is disastrous for the Jewish nation .
      Stop leeching off of Jewish institutions . You have funding . Declare your own equivalent of Hillel . Separate and weave your webs among like minded individuals

      • dabney_c

        The midrash says that only 1 out of 5 Israelites left Egypt with Moses during the exodus. The rest perished in the plague of darkness. History repeats itself.

        • Simone Kaye

          If they perished in the plague of darkness, then they were already dead by the time of the Exodus.

          • ahad_ha_amoratsim

            I’m not sure I see your point. Would you be happy if dabney_c had said that 100% of the then-living Jews went out at the time of the Exodus, but that this 100% was only 20% of the pre-darkness Jewish population?

            • Simone Kaye

              My point is that I don’t see dabney_c’s point.
              At least, I do now, but I didn’t then.

          • dabney_c

            That’s right. They did not align themselves with Moses and preferred to remain in Egypt rather than venture out to freedom and the Promised Land. So, they died in darkness.

      • LJ Spivak

        Harvela, I do not remotely claim that Settlements are the only, or even the main reason that there is no peace between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. To the contrary, it is quite clear to me that there is no peace because the Arabs have never shown any real desire for it, and remain unwilling to accept the existence of a Jewish State of Israel. My objection to the Settlements, to the extent that I have one, is that most of them are not needed for security. They are instead established in the attempt to bring to fruition on the ground Varda’s belief that Jews are commanded to settle in all of the Land of Israel. As such, I would say that they are highly detrimental to Israel’s interests. They make it seem to outside observers that Israel is purely engaged in a land grab, and has no respect for the rights of the existing inhabitants, whose families have been there for centuries or even millennia. That poisons the discourse on Israel and lends credence to the Arabs’ and BDSholes’ arguments, which will eventually lead to the widespread boycotts and sanctions they advocate. The settlement enterprise could also lead to actions by Israel that are far more detrimental to the Jewish soul than the exercise of restraint in resettling Judea and Samaria would be. If the settlements continue to be established and grown at the current rate, it won’t be long at all before the only acceptable outcome is a one state solution whereby Judea and Samaria become legally part of Israel and the Arabs living there are accorded the rights of Israeli citizens. And the eventual denouement of that scenario is a state where Jews are once again a minority.

        • ahad_ha_amoratsim

          Utter rot. 95% of the ‘settlements’ are within 5 miles of the Green Line. Many of them command high ground that in the Arabs used before 1967 to attack Jewish towns or traffic, and many are located on the likely route that would be taken if the Arabs again tried to invade. Some, such as Gush Etzion, are built on the site of former Jewish towns that the Arabs massacred and razed during the 1948 war or after the 1947 partition vote. And I reject as immoral the idea that Jews cannot buy land, or build on land they have bought, simply because the neighbors don’t want them there.

          • LJ Spivak

            I’ve looked at the settlement maps, and I don’t think your figure is accurate, though it’s quite possible that 95% of the settlement population lives within 5 miles of the Green Line. The likely route Arabs would use to invade? That’s any road that traverses the land from East to West (of which Israel has built or improved several, mostly to improve access to the settlements). And if security is the need, and not a religion-based land grab, wouldn’t that be better accomplished simply by establishing military bases at the appropriate locations? Why put civilians at risk? At any rate, your reply leads to the conclusion that any partition would be unacceptable to you and those who are like-minded, or that the “Palestinians” would reject any partition you found acceptable. I share your rejection of the idea that Jews shouldn’t be allowed to buy land or build on the land they have bought. Does that mean they should be able to expropriate or squat on land they desire for a settlement? Because that also seems to happen quite a bit (please feel free to debunk this notion as best you can if I’m misinformed – I would welcome proof that this never happens). And doesn’t your logic also imply that Arabs should be able to buy land anywhere within the Green Line and build on it? It’s my understanding that given the structure of land ownership in Israel, this is not currently possible, but I wouldn’t mind being corrected on this point either.

            • ahad_ha_amoratsim

              Squatters occassionally set up a ‘settlement’ on vacant land. Arabs do the same, as you probably know. The government sanctioned ‘settlements’ are established on land that has been purchased or that has been taken by eminent domain, or land that was state-owned land when the area was occupied by Jordan. The leftists fantasy of Arabs being pushed out of their homes by drooling settlers or tanks driven by long coated side curl wearing Jews is a leftist fantasy.

              Arabs can buy land within the Green Line. From what I understand, getting a building permit is a drawn out bureacratic nightmare, no matter who applies for it.
              Yes, the Arabs would reject any partition that I would approve, because they consider Haifa, Tel Aviv, Rishon L’Tzion, Petach Tikvah, Sderot, Ofakim, Beer Sheva, Eilat and any other place you care to name every bit as illegally occupied as they deem any place on the post-1967 side of the Green Line.

            • Varda Meyers Epstein
    • dabney_c

      I am a diaspora, non-Orthodox Jew, and you don’t speak for me.

      • LJ Spivak

        You at least are 100% right on this. I do not speak for you. In fact, I do not speak for anyone other than myself.

        • dabney_c

          Well, when you declare that this post has insulted every diaspora Jew and every non-Orthodox Jew, I just wanted to exclude myself from that gross generalization. I don’t share your views. Many diaspora, non-Orthodox Jews don’t share your views. Being proudly, unapologetically pro-Israel is not the sole domain of Israeli Jews, and/or Orthodox Jews, as you imply.

          • LJ Spivak

            It has insulted diaspora and non-orthodox Jews, dabney. Some of us may see the insult, and others may not take offense (as you don’t). That doesn’t mean the insult isn’t there. And I completely agree that being proudly and unapologetically pro-Israel is not limited to the Orthodox and Israelis. I’d put myself in that category. That does not mean that I have to blind myself to unpleasant acts (some justifiable and some not, in my view) committed by Israel or some Israeli groups or individuals. Neither does it mean I have to adhere to the views of the most nationalist and uncompromising part of the Israeli political spectrum.

    • c0mm0ncenz

      joining the discussion late, but as an American Israeli living in Judaea, I have to say I’m really sick and tired of hearing how Israel has to remain a “democracy” and to do so means we have to give away our land. I fail to see the rationality here. Arabs have every right Jews have, and they sit in the Knesset and Supreme Court. They have more freedom in Israel than in most Arab states. Polls have shown that close to half, or even more than half, prefer living under Jewish sovereignty than under a new PA state. In fact, when the security fence was built around East Jerusalem, 70,000 Arabs moved so they could be on the Israeli side. Democracy is as alive in Israel, for both Jews and Arabs, as it is in the US, or more so. But it isn’t a god, and if I have to choose between Israel being called a democracy or remaining the Jewish state, I’d choose for it to remain the Jewish state.

      • LJ Spivak

        I agree that democracy is alive and well for both Jews and Arabs in Israel. But would that continue to be the case if Israel annexed Judea and Samaria? The answer is no if the Arab inhabitants of those areas were no granted citizenship. That would be the “apartheid” the BDSholes rant on about. You may find that an acceptable option (or not – I won’t presume to know your mind), but few people outside of the Israeli nationalist camp would. If the Arabs of Judea and Samaria are granted citizenship, that would perpetuate a democratic regime, but it would endanger the Jewish character of the state.

        • c0mm0ncenz

          I couldn’t answer your very appropriate question, but the solution has been studied by a learned group of Israelis. You can go to
          http://www.womeningreen.org/2ndConvention.php and/or
          http://www.janglo.net/index.php?option=com_adsmanager&page=display&catid=87&tid=257874&Itemid=157
          to read articles about the Sovereignty Plan for Judea-Samaria. The janglo link has videos of some of the speeches. They’ve worked out solutions to the problem of democracy vs apartheid, such as a slower naturalization process rather than instant citizenship for the Arabs in the area. Many Arabs, especially those who have jobs with Jews in Judea-Samaria, would prefer to be under Israeli sovereignty. They would lose jobs and the good life they now enjoy if a Palestinian state would take over. It’s far from being a popular movement on the part of many -if not most – Arabs.

  • Harvela

    How do you know when you reach rock bottom ? When you get congratulatory retweets from among others Mondoweiss and Electronic Intifada

    https://mobile.twitter.com/VJUvassar/status/436191601862643712

    You are obviously doing something right Vassar – at least in the eyes of those two bottom trawlers . Maybe that’s why Hillel want their name back .

  • Natan Epstein

    So ummm am I the only one thinking in my head (nagal Vassar) but seriously, could it be that college campuses are rebelling on Hilel so far that Hillel will seize to exist ? That’s a form of BDS in my opnion and its sad.

  • simi K.

    Interestingly, the comment I left on the Vassar’s page on February 21st, is still “awaiting moderation.”