My latest (jweekly.com): ‘Open Hillel confab takes on BDS, intellectual freedom’

"Unpacking BDS" panel at the Open Hillel conference (from left): Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace; Sa’ed Atshan, a Palestinian post-doc at Brown University; and student moderator Holly Bicerano | Copyright: David A.M. Wilensky

“Unpacking BDS” panel at the Open Hillel conference (from left): Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace; Sa’ed Atshan, a Palestinian post-doc at Brown University; and student moderator Holly Bicerano | Copyright: David A.M. Wilensky

As noted, I was at the Open Hillel conference at Harvard over the weekend. I was there doing a story on Bay Area folks for jweekly.com. And now it’s live.

Here’s a bit of it:

The prominent pro-BDS contingent was hard to miss. Many displayed their views proudly, sporting black T-shirts with the Jewish Voice for Peace logo on the front and the words “Another Jew Supporting Divestment” on the back.

But the conference was not about BDS itself. It was about whether there is room in the Jewish student community for those who support it to even be part of the conversation. There was a sense among many at the conference that the tide is beginning to turn in their favor.

“I’m one of the most right-wing people here. I’m a Zionist, I don’t support BDS, but this is an important conversation and it’s important to open it up,” said Sarah Beller, a Stanford University senior who grew up in San Jose and currently serves on the boards of Hillel at Stanford and Stanford’s J Street U chapter.

“Judaism is all about intellectual discussion, and about debate and questioning,” Beller said, “and especially Hillels, which are Jewish institutions aimed at cultivating Jewish life in college, where there should be academic freedom. To say that we won’t discuss certain things to protect people is deeply problematic because it ties how Jewish you are to your politics.”

Now go read the rest of it.

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