Jacob Plitman, in his Opinion piece, “Hillel And Its Donors Repress Real Conversation” (Dec. 20), rests his argument against Hillel’s policy denying anti-Zionist speakers a Hillel campus platform on pressure from donors. It goes way beyond that.
I agree with Hillel and it has nothing to do with money. As an example, while I personally do not agree with many of J Street’s positions, J Street supports the State of Israel and, of course, should be welcome on campus. Hillel should encourage the entire spectrum of discussion regarding the policies and priorities of the Israeli government, but only among those who begin with the premise that Israel has a right to exist. Speakers and organizations who consider Israel, by definition, to be a racist state or do not believe that Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish state fall outside the pale.
Hillel would not invite a Holocaust denier to speak, or, I hope, a racist who preaches that all Muslims are terrorists. Hillel is an institution that stands for certain values, among them encouraging students to develop and deepen their connection to the Jewish state. Freedom of speech generally does not mean that institutions must grant a microphone to any speaker, no matter how offensive the speech. Granting a platform mean granting legitimacy, and some views aren’t legitimate, including advancing the goal of wiping Israel from the map.
Senior Rabbi, Temple Sinai, Roslyn, L.I.