The Brandeis University Hillel has rejected a second membership bid by the controversial Jewish student group Jewish Voice for Peace.
Some 1,000 Brandeis students, nearly a third of the student body at the suburban Boston university, signed a petition circulated by JVP asking the Brandeis Hillel to reconsider its decision earlier this month not to admit JVP as a partner organization.
Fifty rabbis and 100 faculty members, parents of students and Brandeis alumni also signed the petition, according to JVP spokespeople.
In its March 28 rejection statement, Brandeis Hillel reiterated its commitment to Hillel’s national guidelines, which state that Hillel will not partner with groups that do not accept Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.
Jewish Voice for Peace states its mission as promoting “full equality, democracy and self-determination for Israelis and Palestinians,” but does not describe Israel as a Jewish state and also supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.
JVP’s position, reiterated by its supporters, is that if Hillel is to be the center for Jewish life on campus, no Jewish student organization should be excluded, no matter its positions on Israel.
In her letter explaining the original decision of Brandeis Hillel’s student executive board, Brandeis Hillel president Andrea Wexler said JVP’s support of BDS put it beyond what Hillel could accept.
“While we understand that JVP at Brandeis considers itself a pro-Israel club, based on positions and programming JVP has sponsored, we do not believe that JVP can be included under Hillel’s umbrella,” Wexler wrote.
The Brandeis chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, which was created last fall, is the first campus chapter to seek Hillel membership. The group has chapters on five college campuses and is organizing on six more, according to a spokesperson.