NOTE: I have screenshots, pictures, videos, and recordings to back up literally every single thing said here. I will not disseminate them for legal reasons, but Aussie Dave has seen them.
SEE UPDATE here.
It all started when a friend of mine tipped me off to the event that was scheduled for last night at 7:30pm, at the Hillel building.
You would think it would be a Yom Ha’atzmaut party or a Yom HaZikaron ceremony. It wasn’t. Instead of celebrating Israel, this group of students had planned to mourn it.
The Nakba, Arabic for Catastrophe, refers to when six Arab armies attacked Israel and Israel destroyed them, and subsequently became a state.
The “Nakba narrative” refers to the Palestinian side of the story. In other words, the made-up one. It claims that the Jews kicked out a zillion Palestinians from the ancestral homelands they’d been inhabiting for ten zillion years.
We all know that’s rubbish. For the record, 90% of “Palestinians”, who are actually just Arabs, immigrated in the hundred years before 1948. They followed prosperity brought by Jewish immigration. And because there were a lot of them and they’re much better than us at having babies, they overtook us rather quickly.
So I broke the story in an Israellycool blog post and bought a ticket to Providence.
The day before the event was scheduled to take place, I received a call from my friend saying that since my story went uber-viral, calls from concerned donors and good people who don’t like traitors poured in. Hillel was telling these concerned folks that the event was cancelled.
“But they just deleted the event from Facebook and made another one that starts at 8pm!” I said.
Since I had clicked “attending” at the original event, I was invited to a private one along with about 820 others.
I find out the original public event wasn’t cancelled, Hillel just “withdrew their sponsorship” because one of the sponsoring Hillel groups backed out and they can’t sponsor something without unanimous approval from all Hillel groups.
According to students active in Brown/RISD Hillel, this news upset their ultra-leftist rabbi, whose political views make even my J Streeter friend/source shudder (yes, I still have J Street friends, as much as I deplore their views they’re still good people who are misled, but I draw the line at JVP). She really wanted the event to happen, so she worked it out with the organizers that they can use the Hillel meeting room, and in order to appease donors and alumni, they will pretend they have nothing to do with it.
I arrive in Providence at around 4:30pm. At about 6pm I find out the event was cancelled and that the Hillel building would close at 7pm “due to security concerns.”
My gut feeling told me there was something fishy going on. Eventually my suspicions were confirmed by a tip: the event was happening, that it had started at 5:30, and that the other event that started at 8pm was a decoy.
The “real” invites were sent to about a hundred students they deemed trustworthy.
I wondered why the building was to close at 7pm. Then, when I did a bit of sleuthing, I found out that the event attendees were slated to leave the building at 7:30, when there could be no witnesses to the group leaving and talking about the screening. Because, you know, how could you talk about a screening that didn’t exist?
I was heading towards the Hillel building when all of a sudden I heard thunderous applause emanating from the Hillel Meeting Room, where the 8pm event was scheduled to take place.
When I walk into the lobby, there are about five employees and all are nervous as heck. The security guard asks me anxiously what I am doing there. I think quickly: the only way they’ll let me stay is if I say I’m waiting for a friend who went to the event. He looked flustered. “What event?” he asked nervously. “I dunno, he didn’t tell me, he just said an event.”
“There is no event” he said.
There was a table laid out full of perishable food items: A Kale salad, some veggies, and a vegetable quinoa dish. I asked one of the employees, later confirmed to be Hillel Executive Director Marshall Einhorn, who was standing around what it was there for. He said: “It’s for the event.” I asked “What event?” Then, he must have knew I wasn’t in the know, so he had to cover up: “Oh, it was for an event last week.” The food looked totally fresh, so I gave him a look like “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“You know college students,” I said, “You lay food out and it’s gone within hours, not days.”
He laughed nervously, as if he were worried I had figured out his secret by osmosis. “You okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine.”[FYI: Quinoa lasts just a few hours after it is cooked, and this quinoa was fresh].
These employees were textbook examples of “How to tell if someone is lying” classes in law enforcement. Some bit their lips, others fidgeted, some stuttered, and others made really terrible excuses or looked away.
Suddenly, a throng of youngsters bounded down the stairs from the meeting room. I ask the secretaries at the desk about the event that was going on and they said they are not allowed to disclose any information on it for security reasons. Another employee approached me and said frantically “The event was cancelled, there was no screening!”
Then what are all these people talking about the Nakba for? I wondered.
“What happened up there? A screening?” I asked another employee.
“Yeah, a screening.”
“I don’t know…”
Finally, I approached a girl who had attended the screening.
“So what was going on up there?”
“About what? The Nakba?”
“Yeah, the Nakba.” Her friend nodded.
“Ohhh weird!” I said, acting surprised.
“Why is it closed?” I asked someone else, “I wanted to come study here but they said I can’t because it’s closed.”
“Oh, I’m gonna tell Eital, she’ll tell you all about it.”
I asked Eital, whom I recognized as one of the organizers, why the building was closing.
“Because it’s a holiday tomorrow,” she answered.
“What holiday?” I asked. I know Hillel didn’t close early the night before holidays. They typically held ceremonies and prayers instead.
“Uhhhh… I don’t know much about it…” she responded anxiously. She seemed Israeli, so I surmised that she just didn’t want to mention Independence Day, being pro-nakba and all.
“Oh… well I’m waiting for a friend here, I’ll just go outside.”
She seemed excited by my suggestion.
As I was leaving the building, I heard someone say “have some quinoa, it’s for the event!” off in the distance.
I was followed by another student who turned out to be a Hillel executive who was in favor of the event.
She might have assumed I had an accomplice.
“What are you two doing here?” she asked, suspiciously.
“I was supposed to wait for him in there but he’s out here somehow… I can’t find him… Oh! we were going to grab dinner now!”
When she started to interrogate me, presumably to ask me whether I was recording or try to coerce me into deleting what I had, I played my getaway card: “I’m going to be late, I have to go!”
Later that day, an email circulated among certain community pro-Israel circles: “An undercover reporter was there, she will claim the event happened, do not believe her, it did not happen.”
Cool story, bro. Betcha don’t know I have the recording!
So what is going on at Hillel that they are trying to cover up? Why would they cover it up?
Obviously they want to appease the largely left-wing Hillel contingent, and, as I heard, the regular students across the United States are getting turned off Hillel in favour of more unabashedly pro-Israel group Chabad, which is growing in popularity.
Another thing that I’ve also heard is that there is a push in the upper echelons to hire young, hip, social justice warrior types in order to get the kids involved and make Judaism cool again and give Hillel the appeal of the youngsters who actually get involved in student life. These student activists and “doer” types with time on their hands are more likely to get involved with an organization like Hillel, are more outspoken, and are disproportionately radical left-wing. This circumstance creates the illusion that the school is nearly unanimously left, and therefore likely believe in changing with the times to retain appeal.
So Hillel is like the Haaretz of student clubs. Uber left-wing, loud, and pandering to haters, even though most ordinary Jews secretly don’t like them.
Furthermore, I heard a rumor [later confirmed] that there is pressure to make Hillel an open Hillel by the left-wing contingent that organized this event, and Hillel is desperately trying to keep these people in the fold by appeasing them, modifying their Hillel to fit that model and deliberately violating the “Standards of Partnerships,” standards that are not enforced.
I left the event sad that I couldn’t listen to the actual discussion and hear how doomed my generation is, but glad that I may have found myself right in the middle of one of Hillel’s biggest cover ups.