Students gather in Brown/risd Hillel for the event.

Students gather in Brown/risd Hillel for the event.

May 12, 2016

Open Hillel applauds the over seventy students who gathered inside Brown RISD Hillel to watch and discuss three short films about the Palestinian Nakba produced by the Israeli NGO Zochrot. These students came together to learn about and grapple with perspectives on the events of 1948 that are rarely examined in the American Jewish community.

For the past five months, Jewish students at Brown built a broad-based coalition in support of this event. As of early this week, Israel-related student groups from across the political spectrum were set to co-sponsor the film screening. Both the Brown RISD Hillel Student Board and the Brown RISD Hillel Board of Trustees supported it.

Then, several days ago, in response to external and internal pressures, Brown RISD Hillel officially cancelled the event. This cancellation comes in the shadow of a long line of instances in which Hillel International and local Jewish Federations have pressured local Hillels to cancel events deemed to break Hillel International’s Standards of Partnership for Israel Activities and challenge the establishment consensus on Israel.

But Brown RISD Jewish students remained steadfast in their commitment to open discourse.  Disavowing Hillel International’s exclusionary Standards, on Wednesday evening, over seventy Jewish students of all backgrounds held the film screening in Hillel, the Center for Jewish Life on Campus.

Open Hillel is deeply heartened to see so many Jewish students at a major university taking a stand and creating -- inside Hillel -- the pluralistic Jewish community that they want to see.

We applaud the Brown RISD Jewish students for making it clear that their Jewish community supports pluralism and open dialogue. We hope that this event will be the start of important, student-driven conversations at Brown RISD Hillel about pluralism and open discourse within their Jewish community.

Moreover, we hope that this event will set a precedent for pluralism and open discourse in Hillel chapters across the country. We call upon Hillel International to rescind its Standards of Partnership so as to enable Jewish students on campus to engage in difficult and important conversations, rather than trying to stop them from doing so.

[You can also read the statement from the Brown student organizers.]

students gather in Brown RISD Hillel for the event.

students gather in Brown RISD Hillel for the event.