Below is the #OurJudaismIncludes Petition calling on Hillel International to end its Partnership with Mosaic United. Read on and sign your name!
Hillel International: End Your Partnership with Mosaic United and Affirm Your Commitment to Pluralism
On August 12th, 2016, the Israeli government launched its Israel-Diaspora outreach initiative, Mosaic United, promising $66 million to the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement, Olami Worldwide, and to Hillel International, the Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, supposedly to strengthen Jewish identity and connection to Israel. Yet Mosaic aims to impose a monolithic vision of what it means to be Jewish, contradicting Hillel International’s commitment to fostering an inclusive and pluralistic Jewish community on campus.
Naftali Bennett, Israel’s far-right Minister of Education and Diaspora Affairs, will lead this initiative. Time and again, Bennett has used his power to shut down political views of which he disapproves. In June 2015, he censored a school play, drawing the ire of 2,000 Israeli artists; in December 2015, his Education Ministry banned a novel on Jewish-Arab romance from Israeli schools; that same month, he barred the Israeli human rights organization Breaking the Silence from the Israeli school system. These actions stand in sharp contradiction to Hillel’s stated commitment to promoting “students’ inquiry” about Israel.
Mosaic United’s creators explained that they aim to combat the “undermining of the Jewish foundations of the family unit.” Bennett and his political party, Habayit Hayehudi (“Jewish Home”), promote policies which define the Jewish family in a manner that excludes the families of countless American Jewish students; they oppose same-sex marriage and interfaith partnerships, and they support religious laws that forbid married women from initiating a divorce.
Mosaic United also seeks to combat “critical discourse” regarding Israel. Bennett and the Jewish Home party sit in Israel’s governing coalition, where they advocate for building settlements and annexing large portions of the West Bank. Bennett has called peace proposals “nonsense” and denies that Israel is engaged in a military Occupation. Given his history of targeting his political opponents and censoring views that could disrupt his political aims, Bennett’s commitment to combatting “critical discourse” implies that he intends to shut down a wide range of perspectives that don’t align with his own.
While Bennett and Mosaic aim to censor conversation about Israel and impose a narrow, discriminatory definition of the Jewish family, Hillel claims to welcome “students of all backgrounds;” to foster “an inclusive, pluralistic community;” and to “encourage students’ inquiry” about Israel.
For nearly four years, Open Hillel has urged Hillel to enact policies and support programs that are consistent with its stated values of inclusion, pluralism, and open discourse.
Hillel cannot serve students of all backgrounds if it takes millions of dollars from an initiative that disrespects students’ families and disparages non-Orthodox Jewish practice.
Neither can Hillel claim to foster pluralism, inquiry, or real dialogue around Israel if it accepts millions of dollars from an initiative that seeks to censor critical discourse and to impede Jewish students’ ability to learn and question.
Therefore, we call upon Hillel to reject all funds from Mosaic United and to affirm its commitment to pluralism and open discourse in Jewish campus communities.