by: David Harris-Gershon on January 29th, 2014 | 10 Comments »
The story of me being barred from speaking about my book at a university student center (UCSB Hillel) gained national attention this week. And with this exposure came American Jewish leaders who exposed their desire for Hillel International, and Jewish organizations at large, to bar progressives such as myself from being allowed to stand within the communal tent.
Such expressions served to further concretize the existence of a true crisis facing the American Jewish community: a crisis over Jewish institutions deciding who should, and should not, be considered legitimate members of the community on the basis of their political views.
The most prominent among them was William Daroff, Senior Vice President for Public Policy & Director of the Washington office of The Jewish Federations of North America, who wrote in support of UCSB Hillel banning me:
“I just do not support giving communal hecsher to those who are outside the bounds of legitimate discourse … Your [political views] place you outside our communal tent.”
Now, one might think, based upon this, that I’m a horrendous individual with wildly offensive views to be cast outside a vast, nondenominational tent. So, who am I? Brace yourself: I’m a Jewish educator who teaches biblical and rabbinic texts at a North American day school. I’m an author whose memoir focuses on my reconciliation with a Palestinian family. And I’m a progressive Zionist who would like to see Israel thrive as a Jewish, democratic state resulting from a finalized two-state agreement.
Clearly, I’m a vile anti-Semite who should be banned from ever speaking within an Jewish building (save the classroom where I teach daily, I suppose).