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December 20, 2013

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PAGE 2A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, DECEMBER 20, 2013 Swarthmore Hillel picks fight over campus group's Israel guidelines Wikicommons The board at the Hillel chapter of Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania is openly rejecting guidelines on Israel debate adopted by the international umbrella group. By Julie Wiener NEW YORK (JTA)--With an estimated Jewish popu- lation of 275 undergradu- ates, the Quaker-founded Swarthmore College outside Philadelphia is home to one of the smaller Hillel chapters in the country. But that hasn't stopped student activists at the small suburban school from pick- ing a fight of potentially epic proportionswith the umbrella group Hillel International. On Dec. 8, the Swarth- more Hillel student board announced that it had voted unanimously to defy Hillel International's guidelines for Israel activities and become the first college to join the Open Hillel movement, a cam- paign aimed at widening the Israel discourse on campus. Two days later, Hillel In- ternational President Eric Fingerhut responded with a letter declaring the position unacceptable. (See "Hillel warns Swarthrnore chapter over rejection of Israel guide- lines," page XX.) "I hope you will inform your colleagues on the Stu- dent Board of Swarthmore Hillel that Hillel Interna- tional expects all campus organizations that use the Hillel name to adhere to these guidelines," Fingerhut wrote. "No organization that uses the Hillel name may choose to do otherwise." The conflict comes amid growing criticism of the 2010 Israel guidelines, which some argue stifles debate and excludes too many people from the communal discourse around Israel. The guidelines forbid in- dividual Hillel chapters from hosting groups or speakers that among other things deny Israel's right to exist or support boycott or divestment from the Jewish state. Just how far Hiilel will go to enforce the policy remains unclear. David Eden, its chief admin- istrative officer, declined to say whether the group would strip the Swarthmore group of its name or take other punitive measures. Eden said a meet- ing between Fingerhut and Joshua Wolfsun, communica- tions chair of the Swarthmore Hillel, would likely take place in January. "Hillel is an open organi- zation," Eden told JTA. "We embrace dialogue onall sorts of issues, especially with our students." Israel has long been an ex- plosive issue on college cam- puses, with pro-Palestinian groups routinely sponsoring events like Israel Apartheid Week and pro-Israel activ- ists struggling to determine whether to react to provo- cations or focus instead on promoting positive aspects of Israeli culture. The challenges have multiplied with the recent growth of the movement to boycott or divest from the Jewish state, known by the acronym BDS. Wolfsun, a sophomore from Amherst, Mass., said his lIlllel on page 15A Pro-Israel groups backing away from confrontation with Obama over Iran By Ron Kampeas WASHINGTON (JTA)-- When it comes to the deal between Iran and major pow- ers, Israel and the pro-Israel community are retreating from a strategy of confronta- tion and working instead to influence the contours of a final agreement. In a conference call last week, Howard Kohr, the American Israel PublicAffairs Committee's executive direc- tor, advised pro-Israel activists and leaders not to confront the Obama administration directly over the "difference of strategy" between the United States and Israel on Iran. Instead, Kohr said to focus on passing new sanctions as a means of shaping a final deal. AIPAC would not comment on the call, which was first revealed Dec. 3 in a Zionist Organization of America news release criticizing AIPAC's approach. But Kohr's advice comports with a recent rhe- torical pivot by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netan- yahu, who initially excoriated the interim deal with Iran reached last month in Geneva as a "historic mistake." Last week, meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Jerusalem, Netan- yahu significantly downplayed his unhappiness with the interim deal and said he was focused instead on the out- come of the six-month period established to reach a final accord over Iran's nuclear pro - gram. Netanyahu is sending a team to Washington in the coming days to consult with U.S. officials on how best to influence a final deal. Friedman & Friedman Excellence in Real Estate Jeffrey and Barbara Friedman 407-222-6059 - Direct One Team. Twice the Knowledge, Service and Experience Serving the Central Florida Jewish Community for over 12 years . "We believe that in a final deal, unlike the interim deal, it's crucial to bring about a final agreement about deter- mination of Iran's military and nuclear capability," Netanyahu said. The interim deal rolls back some sanctions--although not the central ones target- ing Iran's banking and energy sectors--in exchange for some freezes in Iran's nuclear development. Israel, along with some pro-Israel groups and mem- bers of Congress, decried the deal for not dismantling Iran's nuclear capability and said the rollback of any sanctions, however marginal, reversed the momentum that has helped bring Iran to the negotiating table. U.S. offi- cials recoiled at the rhetoric, telling Jewish leaders in off- the-record phone calls that it made more sense for Israel to try to shape the outcome of a final deal than to trash the interim deal. In a talk with the American Jewish Committee, Robert Einhorn, a former Obama administration policy official on Iran, said Netanyahu's "very aggressive" tone "was surprising to me and to many others." "Stop this megaphone di- plomacy," said Einhorn, now a senior fellow at the Brook- ings Institution. "Work with the Americans privately." Abraham Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League's national director, agreed with Kohr's strategy and called for working with the Obama administration. "It's not enough to be criti- cal, even though the critique brought about some chang- es," Foxman said. "What makes sense now is to work with the major player, the United States, the president and his staff. To flay and to continue to be critical is not productive and is not smart." The ZOA, which has often been outspoken in its criti- cism of the Obama admin- istration's approach toward Israel and Iron, signaled that it would not abide by calls to back away from confronta- tion. "The Obama Administra- tion Iran deal is avery danger- ous act of appeasement that leaves intact all the vital ele- ments of Iran's illegal nuclear weapons program," the group said in a statement. Tactical questions aside, major differences remain between what Israel and the United States are prepared to accept with respect to a final deal. U.S. officials this week for the first time said they could countenance a final deal in which Iran con- tinues to enrich uranium at low levels. Israel is unlikely to budge on its demand for a complete dismantling of Iran's enrichment capabil- ity. But officials in both gov- ernments say Israel and the United States do agree on two endgame bottom lines: Iran must dismantle the under- ground nuclear reactor near the holy city of Qom, and it must dismantle its nascent plutonium facility at Arak. Meanwhile, the pro-Israel community, backed by Ne- tanyahu, will continue to press for enhanced sanctions against the wishes of the Obama administration. Pro- Israel insiders say they expect top lawmakers, led by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, to press for enhanced sanctions before year's end. The sanc- tions likely would kick in in six months, allowing the Obama administration time to come to a deal with Iran. Responding to a reporter's question about Israel's push for new sanctions, Kerry said Friday it was natural to expect a degree of pushback from Netanyahu. "Look, the prime minister has every right in the world to make his views known with respect to his concerns about the security of his country, and we would expect him to do that," Kerry said. "But the prime minister has also been extremely constructive in working with us on the next steps and where we need to go now. He understands that we are now in the real negotiation." Hillel warns Swarthmore chapter over rejection of Israel guidelines NEW YORK (JTA)--Hil- lel International warned its Swarthmore College chapter that it cannot use the Hillel name if it flouts the interna- tional Jewish campus group's Israel guidelines. Hillel deliveredthewarning in a sharply worded letter fol- lowing the Swarthmore chap- ter student board's decision to repudiate Hillel guidelines prohibiting partnerships with groups deemed hostile toward Israel. In his letter, Hillel's presi- dent and CEO. Eric Fingerhut, warned Swarthmore Hillel's student communications coordinator, Joshua Wolfsun, that the chapter's rejection of the guidelines "is not ac- ceptable." "I hope you will inform your colleagues on the Stu- dent Board of Swarthmore Hillei that Hillel Interna- tional expects all campus organizations that use the Hillel name to adhere to these guidelines," Fingerhut wrote. "No organization that uses the Hillel name may choose to do otherwise." The Hillel student board at the Pennsylvania liberal arts college voted unanimously to reject the Hillel guidelines for campus Israel activities. Swarthmore became the first chapter of the Jewish campus organization to declare itself an "Open Hillel"--part of a student movement that says its goal is to "encourage in- clusivity and open discourse at campus Hillels." Hillel International's Guidelines for Campus Israel Activities reject partnerships with groups or hosting speak- ers who deny Israel's right to exist as a Jewish and demo- cratic state; delegitimize, demonize or apply double standards to Israel; support boycott, divestment and sanc- tions efforts against Israel; or foster an atmosphere of incivility. The policy encourages individual campus Hillels to adopt their own policies that are "consistent" with these guidelines. The Swarthmore Hillel student board's resolution said the guidelines "privi- lege only one perspective on Zionism, and make others unwelcome." The resolution said that Swarthmore Hillel "will host and partner with any speaker at the discretion of the board, regardless of Hillel International's Israel guidelines." Swarthmore Hillel had said in a statement: "All are welcome to walk through our doors and speak with our name and under our roof, be they Zionist, anti- Zionist, post-Zionist, or non-Zionist." Fingerhut, in his letter, rejected the formulation. "Let me be very clear- 'anti-Zionists' will not be permitted to speak using the Hillel name or under the Hillel roof, under any circum- stances," he wrote. Wolfsun had previously told the Forward that Swarthmore Hillel did not need to worry about financial repercussions. "We are funded by our own endowment and have no board of overseers." he said. 205 W. Fairbanks Avenue I.,,.ti,, I lilh..;m \\;Vintcr Park, Florida 32789