The ongoing controversy fueled by the opening of an Israeli soldiers photo exhibit last week at Harvard Hillel has prompted attention from national Jewish organizations beyond Harvards Jewish community.
Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, said he has asked leaders of Hillelthe national umbrella organization for Harvard and more than 500 other colleges and universitiesto issue a statement condemning the Harvard chapter for promoting programs and material that dont promote love and respect for Israel.
But Hillel Senior Communications Associate Danielle Freni said she had no knowledge of Klein urging Hillel to issue such a statement.
Breaking the Silencea traveling exhibit of over 100 photographs and videos testimonials curated by former Israel Defense Force (IDF) soldiersdrew a crowd of nearly 200 on its opening night on March 1. Critics have said the exhibit portrays only the extremes of military lifesuch as a picture of an IDF soldier smiling in front of several corpsesand offers little context.
By hosting this exhibit, Harvard Hillel only promotes enmity and hatred towards
But Franklin M. Fisheran MIT economics professor and chair of Americans for Peace Now, which advocates for peace in the Middle East and sponsors Breaking the Silencesaid he disagreed with Kleins view. Fisher said the exhibit does not constitute criticism of
The Union of Progressive Zionistsa national network of Jewish student activiststries to provide a progressive voice to debates about
Harvard Hillel President Sarah B. Joselow 10who is also a Crimson design editorsaid that some Harvard Hillel donors have voiced concerns about the exhibit.
But Joselow added the donors are more understanding when they hear that the exhibit was originally slated to be held at CGIS-South but was moved to Hillel to provide a Jewish context for the controversial content.
Though Hillel is holding the exhibit in its building, the Harvard Progressive Jewish Alliance (PJA)an associated group of Harvard Hillelis acting as the exhibits sponsor on campus, according to former PJA co-chair Seth R. Flaxman 08.
This is our affiliated group, said Gabriel M. Scheinmann 08, Harvard Hillel student development chair. Well let them use the space, but were not going to endorse or sponsor it, and were making that clear,
But Klein acknowledged that it would be difficult for any student to distinguish between hosting and sponsoring the pictures posted on [Harvard] Hillels walls.
Joselow said she expects Hillel to be supportive of the Harvard chapters attempts to encourage dialogue within the Jewish community.
We cannot look the other way, Fisher said of current dialogue on IDF activities. We cannot be silent.