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Richmond Hillel President Ousted for Criticizing Israel

The University of Richmond student president of that campus's Hillel, Jilian Redford, has been ousted for criticizing Israel.

In an open letter to Hillel protesting this action, Robert Blecher of the Department of History at U of R, explains the events and issues at hand. Below you'll find an excerpt outlining the basic course of events.

"The facts are the case are as follows: In February 2004, after having received unsolicited emails from the Israeli Embassy for months, she asked the embassy to remove her from its mailing list. In her message, she wrote that the solution to Israel's problems lay in reconciliation with the Palestinians, not with the "radical Zionist propaganda" that the embassy had been sending her.

"Within 24 hours, she was summoned to meet with her supervisors at the JCC. They told her that the embassy was calling for her dismissal and demanded that she apologize for her 'unprofessional [behavior] that demonstrated a total disrespect.' Ms. Redford refused.

"Her supervisors also charged her with failing to provide 'balanced' programming on Israel, on the grounds that she had vetoed a speaker they had recommended. Ms. Redford defended her action by explaining that the would-be speaker had told her that Palestinians, unlike Jews, were born with the innate capacity to kill innocent people. Ms. Redford later elaborated: 'Racist statements are contrary to Jewish values and beliefs and have no place in a university setting. There is a clear line between 'a different political view' and outright racism, bigotry, promotion of violence, and hatred.'

"Following the meeting, Hillel officials told Ms. Redford that her 'statements [were] not in keeping with the mission and goals of Hillel' and asked her to resign. Ms. Redford once again refused, asserting that her actions were consistent with Hillel's mission statement on Israel. Hillel then dismissed her for her refusal to apologize and her 'inappropriate [and] inexcusable' accusation of racism."

This letter was posted as a comment to the original post, which contains quotes and links to other stories. Please read the full thread to get the local story.
"An irate e-mail to the Israeli Embassy in Washington may have cost Jilian Redford her job as the leader of the Jewish student organization on her campus, but it transformed the 20-year-old into a darling of Jewish peace activists nationwide".




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