What will happen to City College Hillel president?

We all know what happened to Jilian Redford, president of the University of Richmond Hillel. Once she stated her political views – she was dismissed from her post.

Today I got in my emailbox an invitation forwarded by the NY Israel Campus Roundtable:

This summer is an active season for political demonstrations, everywhere you look, there are young people with flags, banners, and songs. But this time, it’s the pro-Israel community that’s making up the crowd. On Thursday, June 10th the City College Hillel and NAJSA, led by me will lead a pro-Israel counter-demonstration against a pro-Palestinian leftist rally. We will meet at 5PM in Union Square under the George Washington statue. Bring flags, posters, and people. Wear blue colors to show support for Israel. If you can’t find me there, call (718) XXX-XXXX.

-Sergio Kadinsky, President
City College Hillel

Below are three manipulative images which were attached to the invitation… This was the response I sent back:

As a pro-Israel and Israeli activist I will not take part in these demonstrations. Since when is supporting the Gaza settlements pro-Israel (most Israelis support withdrawl from the strip)?

As an active member of the NYU Bronfman Center Hillel, I think it is totally inappropiate that the call for a demonstration came from president of City College Hillel. There was already a case of a Hillel president who [lost] her job for her leftist political views.

I really dont want to start a political discussion over this mailing list, but the point is that what you call “pro-Israel” would be called back in Israel simply “Right-Wing”.

Hillel now has two options: The first one is to give Redford back her presidency. The other one is to kick out the president of City College. I support the former option of course. It would be only fair – Redford only stated her views while the City College Hillel president is calling to join him (as president!) for an explicitly right wing march as is obvious from the following pics:

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39 Responses to “What will happen to City College Hillel president?”

  1. what kind of name is sergio for a jewish boy?

    “Hillel now has two options” — meh, hillel will do whatever the ‘hillel’ they want. their israel on campus initiative exists precisely to encourage people like kadinsky and his right-wing positions.

    i guarantee if you write a letter of complaint you’ll either never hear back from them, or get horeshit apologia for kadinsky’s positions.


    Mobius · June 9th, 2004 at 7:50 am
  2. Where in her thing does she mention Gaza?


    Steven I. Weiss · June 9th, 2004 at 8:09 am
  3. if u are referring to the city college president, the three images came together with the invitation, giving a very clear understanding what the demo is about and what his concept of “pro-Israel” is.


    Asaf · June 9th, 2004 at 8:18 am
  4. I actually think is advertising is fair. It is a counter-demonstration to a “pro-palestinian leftist rally.” I’ve been to a number of the demonstrations on Union Square. I think having a (what you call) right-wing presence will lay the foundations for Proud Jews across to political spectrum to show those one or two antisemites hanging out on the pro-palestinian side that the children of israel, both in israel and nyc don’t appreciate their “protest of injustice” Within the context of a counter demonstration, I’d rather a clear indication of Jewish defense than a left-wing Zionist rally stand next to those who don’t blur the lines between criticism and hatred.


    eli · June 9th, 2004 at 8:56 am
  5. eli, thats not the issue. the issue is that this was publicized by an hillel president, and forwarded by head of hillels in NYC (if i am not mistaken), while someone like refored was fired from her job.


    Asaf · June 9th, 2004 at 9:01 am
  6. I see your point. While I certainly don’t support the firing of Redford, I do support one Hillel president creating and sending that e-mail to his colleagues and constituents. I don’t think their is a relationship between the firing of Redford and this appearance of this e-mail. There is no beauracracy one needs to go through to send a nyc-area hillel e-mail. The context of the response letter characterizes this as a protest of Hillel’s right wing policy in reaction to a “pro-palestinian leftst” rally and makes then makes the attempt to connect this specific right-wing e-mail to the firing of Redford in Richmond, VA. If that doesn’t employ the same tactics that enemies of Israel use to connect one policy the entire state, I don’t know what does.


    eli · June 9th, 2004 at 9:21 am
  7. …Not too mention all of the Jewish boys and girls who will march as proud, occupation-fighting Zionist activists on the “pro-palestinian” side. It’s too easy to see Mobius(leftists) against Hillel (rightists). Hashem knows how many non-activist Jewish students found an inkling of comfort when, for example at Rutgers, Hillel had a nice “right wing counter protest” against www.njsolidarity.org


    eli · June 9th, 2004 at 9:26 am
  8. as far as I am concerned the president of any hillel can call for demonstration against transfer. but also for refusal. if i ever become a hillel president (i might run senior year, who knows..) i want to be sure that if i call for a demonstration in support of refusal, i wont be fired as redford was.


    Asaf · June 9th, 2004 at 9:46 am
  9. two hundred percent agreed.


    eli · June 9th, 2004 at 9:47 am
  10. Redford should not be reinstated because she in NOT Jewish and therefore has no right to lead a Jewish organisation


    Shalom · June 9th, 2004 at 9:55 am
  11. the issue is that this was publicized by an hillel president, and forwarded by head of hillels in NYC — okay, if you really wanted to analyse the hell out of it, you could make the distinction between Jillian speaking on behalf of Hillel (to the Israeli embassy, signing as Hillel president) and Sergio speaking with Hillel (with members and associated group members, signing as Hillel president).

    As to what should have happened: yeah, makes sense that he shouldn’t have signed as Hillel president. Clearly he was forwarding that stuff because he agreed with it; clearly it’s not up to him to decide that Hillel as a whole agrees with it.

    what kind of name is sergio for a jewish boy? A pretty common one…


    8opus · June 9th, 2004 at 3:02 pm
  12. Memo to Shalom: Redford is Jewish. She did convert, that is true, but she is now Jewish.


    Shawn · June 9th, 2004 at 6:46 pm
  13. Ah, yeah, Judaism is about genetics.
    Huh. One day (soon) we’ll be gleefully applying DNA tests to all diaspora “Jews”.
    Maybe some of you might not be as Jewish, but more Russian and German, as you were led to believe.
    Imagine.

    Judaism is about values and faith, not genetics.

    .rob adams


    rob adams · June 10th, 2004 at 6:07 am
  14. Sorry rob. Jews are a people, Judaism is a religion. Even converts are understood as counting among the Jewish people, not for the least of which is the process converts undergo to be included. Like citizenship.


    Zionista · June 10th, 2004 at 9:07 am
  15. Reform and conservative converts do not constitute Jews halachically


    Shalom · June 10th, 2004 at 9:30 am
  16. Shalom,

    1)How do you know which sort of conversion process she participated in? Many people who want to convert do so under supervision of an Orthodox rabbi, regardless of the path they choose to follow, precicely because the Orthodox patriarchy won’t acknowledge anything else.

    2) While you might think you’re protecting Judaism from something (though I’m not sure what), consider what your elitist attitude has the power to do. I’ve known a few people who have undergone ORTHODOX conversions only to be totally snubbed (be excluded, have their kashrut questioned, etc) by the religious community they’ve embraced. They end up feeling totally marginalized and come to resent the faith they felt so drawn to in the first place. Also, what’s up with your hostility toward Reform and Conservative Jews? We’re Jewish too, like it or not.


    Eliana · June 10th, 2004 at 11:28 am
  17. Could somebody enlighten as to what, in terms of policies supported, being “pro Israel” actually means?

    I think one of the points that Asaf is making, and it seems to be a fair one, is that there are people all along the political spectrum who would describe themselves as being “pro Israel”. That being the case, it does not behove one particular group to hijack the term and to use their own political agenda as the definitive benchmark, i.e., if you agree with our views you are pro Israel and if you don’t, then by definition, you are not.

    Re Shalom’s point and leaving aside the Jewishness of Ms Redford, that principle, if applied, would have robbed Britain, a Christian country at the time, of one of her greatest Prime Ministers. Furthermore, it would seem to preclude the possibility (albeit remote) of an Arab Israeli ever being voted in by democratic process to be PM of Israel – unless, of course, he or she has gone through an Orthodox conversion.


    jerry · June 10th, 2004 at 12:37 pm
  18. jerry: “I think one of the points that Asaf is making, and it seems to be a fair one, is that there are people all along the political spectrum who would describe themselves as being ‘pro Israel’. That being the case, it does not behove one particular group to hijack the term and to use their own political agenda as the definitive benchmark, i.e., if you agree with our views you are pro Israel and if you don’t, then by definition, you are not.”

    Sounds alot like the Good Ol’ USA, too….

    And jerry, there is an Arab fellow serving on the Israeli High Court, as well as several Arab Knesset Ministers. Beyond immigration law, orthodoxy (and even Jewishness, for that matter) has nothing theoretically to do with participation in the Israeli political system.


    Zionista · June 10th, 2004 at 1:26 pm
  19. Yes, Zionista, agreed. There are Israeli Arab Members of the Knesset, an Israeli Arab presence in the High Court and enfranchisement has currently nothing to do with orthdoxy. And although my fingers are twitching to raise the question of participation versus the power to influence, it would be an off topic post, so I won’t. :-)

    However, that was not the point I was trying to get over. My quibble was with the consequences of applying the rationale of Shalom’s argument as set out in his mails to a real and a hypothetical case.

    Incidentally, who are the ministers to whom you are referring ? At first glance,

    www.knesset.gov.il/mk/eng/mkindex_current_eng.asp?view=4

    does not appear to show any, but that might be my eyes.


    jerry · June 10th, 2004 at 11:23 pm
  20. Jerry, I suppose your talking about Benjamin Disraeli, but I don’t see what my point has anything to do with him as prime mininster.


    Shalom · June 11th, 2004 at 3:25 am
  21. Jerry, your linked page lists only members of the cabinet. Current Arab Knesset members include Ahmed Tibi, Azmi Bishara etc.


    Shalom · June 11th, 2004 at 3:32 am
  22. jerry: “And although my fingers are twitching to raise the question of participation versus the power to influence, it would be an off topic post, so I won’t.”

    Nu…? So go ahead and raise it. We can take it. Participation vs. the power to influence is not entirely limited to the arena of static civil law. In other words, social and/or cultural change can influence civic change, and legislation can influence societies. But of course there are no guarantees, and that’s what makes the intersection of the personal and the political so exciting.


    Zionista · June 11th, 2004 at 6:25 am
  23. Hi Shalom,

    Re your first point:

    You made the right to lead an organisation dependent on a religious qualification. If you apply the same principle to Disraeli, then he had no right to be PM.

    Re your second point:
    Being a Member of the Knesset and a being a Minister are not the same thing (see Zionista’s post)


    jerry · June 11th, 2004 at 10:09 pm
  24. Zionista, I agree with what you say. However, what examples did you have in mind of this actually occuring? The Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2003, did not seem too upbeat about the subject.

    Should we start a new thread?


    jerry · June 11th, 2004 at 10:25 pm
  25. jerry,

    The crux of my point is simply that political change and social change don’t necessarily happen together. It’s one of those pesky facts of life, albeit one that should keep us all motivated to fight our respective good fights.


    Zionista · June 12th, 2004 at 6:42 am
  26. Jerry, being PM has nothing to do with religion but heading a religious organsiation, namely Hillel, does.


    Shalom · June 12th, 2004 at 3:27 pm
  27. Shalom,

    First of all, since when is Hillel a religious organisation? Is it open to all “denominations”?

    Secondly, you would have no problems with a Moslem or Christian PM in Israel?


    jerry · June 13th, 2004 at 10:09 am
  28. Jerry, re your first point, it is open to all JEWISH denominations.
    And YES I would have a great problem with a Muslim or Chrstian PM in Israel.


    Shalom · June 14th, 2004 at 2:53 am
  29. For those who question MY Jewishness (which is a personal matter, but will reluctantly discuss it to educate the ignorant), I guess you’re not familiar with Israel’s current policies regarding converts. The State of Israel actually DOES recognize my conversion to be halachically valid and the Israeli Ordothodox do as well. I can go to Israel and claim citizenship just as easily as Shalom or any other Jew can. And since Israel uses that silly and degrading i.d. card system, mine would look just like yours Shalom. Would you consider me an equal then?


    Jilian Redford · June 14th, 2004 at 7:42 am
  30. Shalom (1):
    “Jerry, being PM has nothing to do with religion …”

    Shalom (2):
    And YES I would have a great problem with a Muslim or Chrstian PM in Israel.

    Hmmmmmmmm?

    Jilian, if I have said anything above that has caused you hurt. then please accept my apologies. From my standpoint, what you feel in your heart is enough.


    jerry · June 14th, 2004 at 12:31 pm
  31. Jerry, when I stated that ‘being PM has nothing to do with religion’ I was referring to Disraeli being British PM (see above). If you’ve studied your British history you will see that by the time Disraeli was appointed PM, Britain was no longer controlled by the church. The only thing stopping his original appointment was his Jewish ‘inferiority’ i.e. it had nothing to do with the religious status of the country, rather his personal social status. Israel, however, is a Jewish state and a non-Jewish PM would defy the point of its establishment.
    Without getting Ms Redford involved, the same applies to Hillel. Hillel’s purpose is to serve Jews on campus. If Hillel were to have a non-Jewish leader, it would defy the point of the organisation. However, appointing a Jew as head of a students union has nothing to do with his Jewishness.


    Shalom · June 14th, 2004 at 2:06 pm
  32. Jilian, I don’t mean to be rude or to meddle with your private affairs, but since when do the Orthodox recognise a Conservative conversion?
    Furthermore, I never mentioned that you are not equal, I merely stated that you are not halachically Jewish. Please do not take this as a personal attack. My point is directed at the Conservative movement in general (together with the Reform etc.) and its leadership.


    Shalom · June 14th, 2004 at 2:17 pm
  33. First of all, since when is Hillel a religious organisation? Is it open to all “denominations”? I think this is right. Hillel isn’t simply a religious organisation. It’s a Jewish organisation, for all meanings of “Jewish”. Including the religious/faith-based aspects, and the ethnic aspects, one would assume.

    In other words, serving both those portions of the community who are not ethnic Jews but who chose to convert, as well as those born as Jews but, say, atheists.

    For those who question MY Jewishness (which is a personal matter, but will reluctantly discuss it to educate the ignorant), I guess you’re not familiar with Israel’s current policies regarding converts.

    Er, the State of Israel is not a religious authority. It is empowered (by the United Nations) to create secular laws as a nation-state. It is not empowered (by anyone) to create religious laws for any particular faith.

    This is also true of the Greek Orthodox Church, the Russian Orthodox Church, and so forth, as it happens. On the other hand, it is untrue of the Anglican Church, whose head is also the head of state of the UK.

    Mad, mad, mad world!

    Israel, however, is a Jewish state and a non-Jewish PM would defy the point of its establishment. Really? That — and I’m speaking as an ardent Zionist — seems bizarre to me. The point is Israel’s policies and responsibilities, not the individuals who hold office. And YES I would have a great problem with a Muslim or Chrstian PM in Israel. You know, while you say you would have a great problem with this, I suspect that Israeli law would not.

    That said, part of the point is that Israel is a democracy, not a dictatorship. Among other things, this means that the Israeli PM is not the king of Israel. He cannot do whatever he wants. He cannot impose his will on everyone else (as Sharon knows well, these days). In particular, he cannot change the character of the state; the Basic Laws and so on ensure that.


    8opus · June 15th, 2004 at 3:14 pm
  34. me: bad with italics.


    8opus · June 15th, 2004 at 3:15 pm
  35. “…On the other hand, it is untrue of the Anglican Church, whose head is also the head of state of the UK.”

    Good point that 80pus!


    jerry · June 15th, 2004 at 4:55 pm
  36. Yes Shalom, I do know my British History.

    The point about whether Britain was controlled by the church is a red herring. The Anglican Church was the state religion and, as 8opus points out, continues to be to this day. (The disestablishmentarianism movement failed in England.) It also has legal powers that, in theory, extend to passing measures on acts of Parliament

    In the UK, Jews were not allowed to sit in Parliament until after 1858 (The Second Reform Act). Disraeli managed to take his seat before then it because he had been baptised after his father had had a row with the local shul.

    The Emancipation was late in coming but it did come. If your argument had been applied, it never would have happened.


    jerry · June 15th, 2004 at 5:32 pm
  37. Jerry and 8opus, the Church of England (CofE) was and still remains the official religion of England and the head of state, now Queen Elisabeth II, is also head of the church (despite recent calls for her to lose the title). However, the great/ first reform act of 1832 was partly a result of dissilusionment with the church and a general move away from religion. It signifiantly weakened the power of the monarch and the church. The system became much more party- orientated and the monarch could no longer influence parliament or appoint or fire minsiters. So it was actually the great reform act not the second reform act (which took place in 1867 not 1858) which moved Britain away from the church. The second reform act enfranchised most men which included many Jews. There was no law banning Jews from sitting in Parliament and it was merely prejudice against his low-class Jewishness which did not allow Disraeli to become PM until 1967 not religion (although it is true that his baptism did help). So although nowadays England officially remains under the auspices of the CofE it is not really a protestant country and the church’s minimal power has not been used in a long time.

    8opus, re your point about Hillel and Jewishness it is open to all denominations (including Jewish-born reform, conservative, progressive Jews etc. and coverts converted by the orthodox) but a conservative or reform convert is not considered Halachically Jewish, so in theory, they should not be allowed to recieve a post in the organisation.

    Concerning your point about Israel. A PM can only become one if his party has the majority in the Knesset which means that he can make and change laws (and even change the constiution if he has a twothird majority). You saw how Sharon fired ministers to get his way. In Israel everything is possible. And if youll tell me this is a far-fetched scenario (which it is not), it is anyway unfitting for Israel to have a non-Jewish PM. Would you agree to the US having a French president? Its a mad idea and considering Israel’s unique status as a Jewish state its downright dangerous.


    Shalom · June 16th, 2004 at 4:34 am
  38. Shalom: You are right it was indeed 1867. It was the Jews Relief Act of 1858 to which I should have referred. Thanks for putting me wise on that.

    But, still, your analogy does not hold, Israeli Arabs are Israeli citizens whereas a French national is not American.


    jerry · June 16th, 2004 at 6:34 am
  39. Jews were not specifically barred from sitting in Parliament before the Jews Relief Act. The problem for Jews was the oath of allegiance to Christianity which had to be made upon entrance to Parliament. The Jews Relief Act changed the oath of allegiance to make Jews comfortable with it.

    With regards to my analogy I mentioned ‘Israel’s unique status as a Jewish state’. What I meant by that was that the US and Israel are inherently different. Israel represents the Jews whereas the US represents a melting pot of different religions, cultures and people. Nevertheless the US would have problems with a French president (even with US citizenship). You saw the opposition Shwartznegger had to become governor of California. If this is the case in the US how much more so in Israel, the sole Jewish state. An Israeli Arab PM would not be consistent with the Jewishness of the state.


    Shalom · June 16th, 2004 at 7:04 am

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"I may attack a certain point of view which I consider false, but I will never attack a person who preaches it. I have always a high regard for the individual who is honest and moral, even when I am not in agreement with him. Such a relation is in accord with the concept of kavod habriyot, for beloved is man for he is created in the image of God." —Rav Joseph Soloveitchik