Donors: Do you know what you’re paying for?
Times of Israel
Thu Aug 02 2018
I attend Columbia University, whose campus is known for political activism and an especially fiery conversation around Israel. Our campus has many Israel-related groups, ranging from pro-Israel Hillel clubs to “Columbia University Apartheid Divest,” which is affiliated with the BDS movement and claims Israel is an apartheid state that should be boycotted. I am very grateful to the Jewish donors who have been funding my Hillel, and, through it, pro-Israel clubs like my own, J Street CU, which have created meaningful experiences for Jewish students who love Israel and want to engage with it religiously, politically, and/or culturally. But a new club sprang up recently, thanks to support from Maccabee Task Force (which is funded by Jewish mega-donor Sheldon Adelson), that has made the political environment surrounding Israel particularly toxic. This new non-Hillel-affiliated group, innocuously named Students Supporting Israel, is causing significant collateral damage within the Columbia community through its pro-Israel and anti-BDS activity. Some Jewish students are distancing themselves from the Israel conversation on campus to avoid association with this group and the ill-will it inspires among both Jewish and non-Jewish students.