Northeastern Hillel recognizes President Aoun’s courage and integrity in condemning anti-Semitism on campus this weekend. Insodoing, he recognized that hate crimes negatively impact the quality of life for all within the Northeastern University community.
The first incident took place on-campus, with swastikas drawn on a dry erase board in the common area of a residence hall.
The second incident, involving the desecration of a mezuzah, occurred at an off-campus apartment, in a building inhabited mostly by NU students.
The desecration of one of our most precious symbols of free speech – adorning our doors with our heritage – has motivated Northeastern Hillel to purchase a variety of beautiful new mezuzot for students to proudly display. Please come to Hillel, pick out a mezuzah, and meaningfully fulfill the mitzvah by posting the holy words of the Shema “on the doorposts of your house” (Deut. 6:9).
We invite everyone–Jewish and non-Jewish students, staff, alumni and their families, to please RSVP to join us in celebrating “the Festival of Freedom” this Friday and Saturday with NU Hillel at our Passover seders: http://www.northeasternhillel.org/…/religious-life/passover/
President Aoun shared with all students, staff and faculty his outrage with the vandals’ anti-social behavior. You too can help us make our environment better. There are many opportunities to get involved with your Jewish community through Hillel. Please be in touch with NU Hillel’s Jewish Student Life Director, Anna Meyers, at: email@example.com or Israel Program Director, Ariel Scheer, at: firstname.lastname@example.org to find opportunities uniquely suited to your interests. Additionally, if you have information about either of these hate crimes, please contact: email@example.com or reach out directly to NUPD at x2121.
We must be vigilant against the insidious evil of anti-Semitism. As we draw closer to Holocaust Remembrance Day (April 16th) we would do well to remember the words of Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984):
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: Divestment Referendum Defeated
Dear friends of Northeastern Hillel,
After a long night, it’s a pleasure to share this update regarding the status of the referendum proposing that Northeastern University divest from 4 companies that do business with Israel. Tonight, the resolution on the referendum was put before the student senators of the Student Government Association. The proposed divestment referendum was defeated after several hours of thoughtful and passionate debate by student senators.
A simple majority was required to pass the resolution. 9 senators voted in favor of the resolution, 25 opposed it, and 14 abstained. Due to space constraints, the meeting itself was open only to senators and press.
The road that lead to tonight’s victory was a long one, with unprecedented collaborative efforts from the community.
The outcome of the vote is welcome news to our Jewish student leaders, who feel justifiably proud of all the hard work they have put into lobbying, advocacy, educational efforts, strategy sessions, late night communications, and social media efforts. I particularly wish to recognize the student senators who advocated for this resolution’s defeat tonight, including yielding time to other senators so that the points that were so effective in persuading their peers that this would be harmful for our campus community could be made.
Thanks is due to our organizational partners, both here in Boston and around the country, who have been so generous with their time and expertise. The professionals at the Anti-Defamation League, Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Hasbara, Hillel Council of New England, Hillel International, IACT, Israeli American Council, Israel Campus Roundtable, Israeli Consulate, Israel on Campus Coalition, Jerusalem U, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, Stand With Us, The Adam and Gila Milstein Foundation, The David Project, The Louis D. Brandeis Center, and the Zionist Organization of America (among others, whom I apologize in advance for forgetting) all put in many hours to advise, support, and work with us along the way.
Additionally, many thanks to YOU. The efforts of all of the students, alumni, faculty, family members, and concerned community members who took the time to write letters of support and encouragement made a huge difference.
Lastly, I hope you’ll indulge me as I take a minute to recognize the staff and my colleagues here at Hillel. Ariel Scheer Stein, our outstanding IACT Coordinator, offered countless hours of advising to our students and has navigated complex situations and difficult conversations with great diplomacy. I’ve been very grateful for her sensitivity, skillful coordination, and tireless efforts on our students behalf.
Our talented Jewish Student Life Director, Anna Meyers, also deserves special recognition for her devotion. Her efforts on behalf of Israel took her from initially advocating within our community, and then physically *to* Israel—returning just this morning from staffing an Alternative Spring Break for our students there, in partnership with CJP.
NU Hillel’s Board of Directors, particularly our dedicated Board Chair, Sheldon Goldman, offered tremendous support and advice throughout this process. These extraordinary lay leaders have been instrumental in helping to navigate the unexpected.
Anticipating the potential for additional developments, we are hosting a strategy session with some of the foremost experts of BDS on campus later this week. We will continue to keep you updated through our e-newsletter moving forward.
Northeastern Hillel, Jewish and pro-Israel partner organizations on and off-campus, and faculty and staff members will be collaborating closely with students to bring additional Israel programming to campus and to convene forums for constructive community discussions.
We’re very much looking forward to turning our community’s efforts towards the Season of our Freedom and Renewal, as we prepare for Passover in the weeks ahead!
With gratitude for SGA’s decision to begin a constructive dialogue of peace,
Northeastern University Hillel
Sunday, March 15 2015 Message from Executive Director
Dear Friends of Northeastern Hillel,
Last Wednesday, I served on a panel at the Boston community premiere of Crossing the Line 2. You can view the short film by clicking here.
It documents the anti-Israel activity “crossing the line” into anti-Semitism, spreading at alarming rates on our campuses nationwide. The incidents that weighed heaviest on my mind were the disturbing accounts of students impacted by active BDS campaigns on their campuses.
On Monday night, the Northeastern University Student Government Association will debate a divestment resolution advanced by NU Students for Justice in Palestine. I hope they will make the choice not to bring BDS’ “circus of hate” to Northeastern.
Jewish students have shared concerns that a hostile environment will develop at Northeastern if the resolution passes Monday night and a BDS referendum appears this spring. Footage from the film and examples of the genocidal intent emanating from BDS’ leadership validate their concerns:
“Shoot the Jew” – chant by BDS protesters in South Africa, defended by Muhammed Desai, the National Coordinator of BDS South Africa[i]
“BDS does mean the end of the Jewish state.” – Ahmed Moor, leading BDS activist[ii]
“The real aim of BDS is to bring down the state of Israel… Justice and freedom for Palestinians are incompatible with the existence of the state of Israel.” – As’ad Abukhalil, leading BDS activist[iii]
“BDS pertains to the entirety of Palestine, not only Gaza and the West Bank.” Rafeef Ziadah, Spokesperson for the BDS National Committee[iv]
Northeastern Hillel, Hillel International, and current directors of Hillel stand united against BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) resolutions and referenda.
Hillel’s guidelines on Israel state: “Hillel is steadfastly committed to the support of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state with secure and recognized borders as a member of the family of nations.”
The opinions on Israel and divestment recently advanced by a past NU Hillel director affiliated with the fringe group, Jewish Voices for Peace, do not represent NU Hillel’s views and do reflect the vast majority of the American Jewish community. According to a 2011 poll, 94% of Jewish Americans would consider it a “tragedy” if Israel no longer existed tomorrow.[v] American Jews are overwhelmingly opposed to the BDS agenda. [vi]
The Jewish and pro-Israel student organizations at Northeastern are opposed to the resolution of hatred and divestment against Israel, being advanced by SJP. We must not allow the “voice” put forward by those who would seek to harm Israel, appear to speak for actual Jewish students and organizations at Northeastern. We need to raise our voices until the message is clear that the Jewish community of Northeastern opposes SJP’s resolution to divest from Israel!
Please join us,
Executive Director טאובא רבקה בת גאלדא
Northeastern University Hillel
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP?
1) Support NU Hillel’s Israel advocacy efforts by making a tax-deductible donation here.
2) Join the new Facebook group: Students for a United Northeastern (SUN)
3) Reach out to SGA senators and ask them to vote no on divestment from Israel:
firstname.lastname@example.org / https://www.facebook.com/NortheasternSGA / / http://www.sga.neu.edu/association/senate/senators/
Inform them about the true intent of this campaign so they can vote against it, rather than abstaining. Sample letters to SGA can be found on the new SUN Facebook page.
4) Come to Hillel (70 St. Stephen St.) at 5:15 pm on Monday, March 16th for a quick dinner and sign-making party. We will walk to the SGA meeting together afterwards.
Northeastern University Hillel joins the U.S. government, the majority of universities, the majority of Americans, and the Jewish community in condemning BDS.
Here is a list of 250 universities that rejected anti-Israel academic boycotts in 2013, including Northeastern University:
Here are statements from some of those universities:
Here are remarks made by President Obama in support of Israel:https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/03/04/remarks-president-aipac-policy-conference-0
Here is a petition by over 1,700 rabbis opposing divestment:http://www.inpursuitofpeace.org/
Letter from ADL Regional Director to SGA President
Dear Mr. Carville,
We implore you to reject the one-sided “solution” presented by those promoting a Northeastern University divestment initiative. That approach to the complex Israeli-Palestinian conflict is short-sighted and not progressive. In fact, it solves nothing.
Together, we should seek a true resolution to the conflict that allows for a secure, independent and prosperous future for both Palestinians and Israelis. Such a solution will only emerge from intense negotiations, with both sides making difficult concessions regarding borders, refugees, settlements and additional contentious matters. A solution to the conflict between these two parties requires the good faith, will, and determination of both parties involved.
Divestment initiatives are not only simplistic in their one-sided approach to a complex conflict, but they also needlessly agitate and divide the student body. We have, unfortunately seen situations on campuses across the country, where Jewish, pro-Israeli students feel isolated and besieged in the face of divestment initiatives. We urge you not to contribute to creating this type of environment on your campus.
Make no mistake, those who advocate for Northeastern divestment from Israel do so not in the interest of promoting a two-state solution and Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation. They seek to isolate and punish the State of Israel, placing the entire onus of the conflict on Israel alone. Indeed, the global Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, as clearly articulated in its mission statement, does not support a two-state solution or the continued existence of Israel as a Jewish state and denies the Jewish right to self-determination and statehood.
The Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) divestment resolution inherently denies Israel the right to defend itself. The organization targets corporations that provide tools that enable Israel to defend its population, which is both Arab and Jewish. Raytheon, for example, provides equipment used by the Iron Dome system that is responsible for protecting Israeli civilians, again both Arabs and Jews, from missile and rocket attacks.
During the 2014 Gaza conflict, the Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepted approximately 600 missiles and rockets fired by Hamas into Israeli population centers such as Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Ashkelon, and saved countless Israeli lives. Targeting Raytheon directly challenges Israel’s ability to defend its citizens from attack. The other companies targeted by divestment initiatives similarly contribute to Israel’s very real need for self-defense.
Israel and Israeli policies are not perfect and criticism, similar to that of any other sovereign country in the world, can be reasonable and legitimate. Indeed, this week as Israelis head to the polls to elect their next government, there has been passionate and vibrant debate about the policies of the State and its direction. But divestment, which singles out Israel for pariah status, is both biased and disproportionate. It doesn’t constructively seek to enact change – it demonizes, isolates and punishes one side involved in a complicated, nuanced situation.
For the betterment of Northeastern University, its students, and ultimately, for the promotion of true peace between Israelis and Palestinians, we urge you to reject simplistic and divisive initiatives; instead of divestment, seek initiatives that build connections, encourage interaction, foster relationships and help prepare both societies for peace.
We encourage you to soundly reject the referendum put forth by SJP.
Robert O. Trestan