Hillel Student Leaders Participate in Israel Apartheid Week!
Anti-Israel Hate Group’s Presence at Hillel Has Already Had Disturbing Consequences:
Berkeley Hillel’s Valentine’s Day invitation demeaning Orthodox Jews, which was posted on Facebook by Hillel staff, was exposed and reported on in the Jerusalem Post The fact that Berkeley Hillel staff has been denigrating Jewish heritage in the past year became international news.
While we might be tempted to dismiss this latest occurrence as borderline trivial, it is important to recognize that it is indicative of a significantly more egregious pattern of conduct. Although Hillel apologized for its latest “mistake,” the situation continues.
Since Ken Kramarz, Hillel’s N. California regional head, took office in June 2007, under his leadership and guidance, a troubling situation has developed at Berkeley Hillel: Hillel has welcomed leaders of Students for Justice in Palestine (“SJP”), an extremist anti-Israel group (see here), into its student organization meetings (see here).
By allowing SJP into its facility and groups (see here), Hillel has allowed itself to become a breeding ground for anti-Israel extremists and activists. Impressionable Jewish students have fallen prey to SJP and have been closely cooperating with this organization.
Ken Kramarz himself has been discouraging pro-Israel students from rallying for Israel (telling them it makes Jews look “bloodthirsty”) and from displaying Israeli flags (saying the star of David “represents militarism”). This gives an insight into the source of the problem at Berkeley Hillel.
Kramarz’s “leadership” of Hillel is having its natural effect: Hillel’s student group leaders and members are participating in SJP’s “Israel Apartheid Week,” an annual anti-Israel hate-fest taking place this March 1-8, 2009 (see here). This is just the latest negative effect of the Hillel leadership on the future Jewish generation.
Rather than acknowledge the problems and trying to rectify them, those who are content with the present situation at Hillel are distributing a disingenuous letter trying to deflect from Hillel the responsibility for the offensive Valentine invitation. They are also ignoring the larger issue of a disturbing pattern of misconduct. The actual letter authors are implying that the invitation was not placed by Hillel staff. This is not true! The “administrators of Hillel’s Facebook invitation” are Hillel staff.
The people who wrote this letter could not refute any of the facts revealed in the Action Alert distributed recently; indeed each fact has evidence to substantiate it. They simply swept the serious problems of the Hillel leadership under the rug. Rather than confront this troubling situation, they are concealing the facts from the community and maintaining the status quo. Thus, they fail the students and the Jewish community.
The Hillel regional head is an important position. The person who fills it should reverse course and inspire and encourage students to develop pride in their Jewish heritage and stand up for Israel!
Under the leadership, guidance and advice of Ken Kramarz, Hillel’s N. California regional head, an alarming situation has emerged!
The following are just a few examples of an increasingly dire situation( for background see also the eye-opening links):
Hillel Denigrates Jewish Traditions
On Yom Ha’Shoah (Holocaust Memorial Day), Hillel held a dance party. When students complained about holding a party on that solemn day, they were told that “most students don’t really care.”
On Yom Hazikaron, memorial day for fallen IDF soldiers and terror victims, Hillel held a Cinco de Mayo BBQ celebrating Mexican heritage and pride.
Ignoring repeated student requests, Hillel has not held Passover Seders for the last two years. Rather, last Passover, Hillel’s walls bore signs that said “matzah sucks.”
Hillel Cooperates with Anti-Israel Hate Group (SJP) and Marginalizes Pro-Israel Students
Hillel has welcomed leaders of the extremist anti-Israel Students for Justice in Palestine (“SJP”) into its student organization meetings (see here). SJP leaders Allison Deger (see here) and Yaman Salahi (see here) who attend Hillel meetings, have been at the forefront of anti-Israel activities, including violent demonstrations at Israel’s SF Consulate (see here and here) and Berkeley’s divest-from-Israel campaign (see here). This SJP divestment effort is part of internationall Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaigns against Israel (see here, here and here). In their continuing effort to demonize Israel, those SJP leaders organized an “Israel Apartheid Week” (see here) on campus. Several of Hillel’s student group leaders and members participated in SJP’s annual Israel-bashing ritual known as “Israel Apartheid Week.”
Hillel has tacitly given SJP a platform to proselytize Jewish students and convert them to its anti-Israel cause.
In allowing SJP into its facility and groups, Hillel has allowed itself to become a breeding ground for anti-Israel extremists and activists.
Rather than support the pro-Israel students, Hillel, its affiliated students groups, and Kramarz have echoed SJP’s smear campaign against pro-Israel students. Kramarz has done so in statements to media, to the Jewish community, and in a national conference call — without soliciting the pro-Israel students’ response to the SJP’s false allegations.
These highly damaging and irresponsible actions of Kramarz and Hillel have helped the extremist SJP legitimize itself and marginalize the pro-Israel students at Berkeley – so much so that the SJP not only thanked notorious anti-Israel organizations such as the Muslim Students Association (MSA), but first and foremost thanked Hillel and its Jewish Student Union (JSU) for their solidarity and cooperation.
Ken Kramarz and Hillel Discourage Pro-Israel Students and Activities
After the recent Israeli operation in Gaza, Kramarz urged students (on January 16 and 21) not to rally in solidarity with Israel or to carry Israeli flags, saying they would make the Jews look “bloodthirsty” and that the flag’s Star of David represents militarism.
When a pro-Israel student asked Kramarz on February 3 for Hillel to take a public stance against anti-Israel speakers such as Hamas/Hizbullah advocate (see here) and obsessive anti-Zionist Norman Finkelstein, whom the SJP presented in October 2008, Kramarz said he does not consider Norman Finkelstein to be anti-Israel (see here and here).
When pro-Israel students protested the Finkelstein event, moderated by the notorious Hatem Bazian (see here), by briefly making noise while walking out, they were banned from using Hillel facilities unless they “publicly and formally” apologized to the SJP (Kramarz personally advocated this outrageous demand). But the SJP leaders who invited the Israel demonizer and their friends are welcome at Hillel.
Berkeley Hillel, under the advice and guidance of Hillel’s regional head, Ken Kramarz, and with his direct involvement, has repeatedly failed Jewish and pro-Israel students. There are already serious consequences!
These students are the future leaders of the Jewish community. They will determine the American Jewish community’s future attitudes toward, and support for, Israel. This year’s sophomore is next year’s shaper of public opinion, congressman or senator.
Kramarz, who is funded by the S.F. Jewish Federation and Hillel International, has known of, and cooperated with, Berkeley Hillel’s reprehensible conduct. Kramarz has whitewashed and concealed Hillel’s misconduct while attempting to discredit those who spotlight the problems.
If we fail to act and Hillel’s leadership remains unchanged, we should not be surprised when more and more Jewish students join the ranks of anti-Israel activists on campus. Last year’s anti-Israel youth protest at the SF JCC on Israel’s Independence Day (see here and here) may serve as a troubling example of what the future holds. The growing number of anti-Israel Jewish activists will eventually constitute the mainstream.
Please Act Now!–> Your Voice Makes a Difference!
Contact Hillel International (firstname.lastname@example.org) and the S.F. Jewish Federation [(email@example.com) and (firstname.lastname@example.org)]. You are funding them. Let them know that our Jewish students deserve much better!
Demand that the position of Hillel regional head be filled by a leader who is proud of our Jewish heritage and encourages students to stand up for Israel.