Hillel CEO to address J Street campus arm’s summer conference

Hillel CEO Eric Fingerhut. Credit: Shahar Azran for Hillel.

(JNS.org) Hillel International CEO Eric Fingerhut will address the Summer Leadership Institute of J Street U, the campus arm of the controversial left-wing Jewish lobby group, on Aug. 17 in Washington, DC. 

Fingerhut “will speak to 120 national J Street U student leaders in attendance and discuss issues of mutual concern and importance to both organizations and the pro-Israel community on campus,” J Street U announced Thursday.

While J Street publicly claims to be opposed to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, the organization has come under fire for co-sponsoring campus events with pro-BDS groups. 

Hillel International spokesman Matthew Berger said in a statement, “All Hillel professionals value opportunities to speak to as many Jewish students as possible. Eric appreciates the invitation from J Street U and looks forward to meeting the students and engaging with them.”

J Street’s inclusion within Hillel’s umbrella has been the subject of much debate, both before and after Fingerhut’s hiring as CEO. Last March, Fingerhut dropped out of J Street’s national conference, prompting 500 students attending the conference to protest outside Hillel’s office.

“My desire to attend the conference was based on my wish to speak at a student-only session directly with the students who will be in attendance, to thank those who have joined in the fight against BDS and anti-Semitism on college campuses, and to urge everyone to take up this crucial cause,” Fingerhut had said at the time. “However, after reviewing the full list of speakers, I now realize that any benefit that might come from this opportunity would be overshadowed by concerns regarding my participation amongst other speakers who have made highly inflammatory statements against the Jewish state.”

In a recent op-ed for JNS.org, Charles Jacobs and Elliot Hamilton of Americans for Peace and Tolerance argued that J Street’s multi-million dollar campaign in support of the Iran nuclear deal, an agreement that is widely opposed in the rest of the American Jewish community, means that it is time to “evict” J Street from the Jewish communal tent.

“Pro-Iran J Street—which is spending millions of dollars to promote a deal that threatens Jewish life, receiving significant sums of cash from anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sources to promote pro-Iran causes, and dangerously undermining the collective Jewish unity needed to block the deadly Iranian threat—should be drummed out of organized Jewish life,” they wrote.

Posted on August 7, 2015 .