An African-American transgender activist was intimidated into canceling her lecture at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, this month by a group of radical students who somehow connected the event to Israel.
A student group at the university launched a petition to force the activist, Janet Mock, into canceling the lecture, reports The Daily Beast. But it was not her message of transgenderism and homosexuality that upset the radically liberal students – rather it was the fact that one of many student groups involved in the event was the campus Hillel chapter.
Mock had been invited as the keynote speaker for an event of the group Moral Voices. The event had not connection to Israel.
Those signing the petition protested that Hillel helped sponsor the event, even though a bevy of other student groups were involved as well such as the Brown Center for Students of Color, Sarah Doyle Women’s Center, LGBTQ Center, Sexual Assault Peer Educators, Office of the Chaplains, and the Rhode Island School of Design’s Office of Intercultural Student Engagement.
So what exactly bothered the protesting students? According to the petition posted on Change.org, which the university's Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) later said it helped initiate, Mock was pressed to cancel the lecture because Moral Voices, a privately funded group, operates through the local Hillel.
"Hillel as a corporation has consistently defended and even advocated for the Israeli state’s policies of occupation and racial apartheid. Israel’s violent policies center on colonialism, ethnic cleansing, and genocide of native Palestinians," claims the petition, accusing that it "has guidelines set in place to ensure that no speaker hosted by Hillel is allowed to rigorously critique Israel."
Ironically in making its last charge about blocking criticism, the petition linked to a part of the Hillel International website which reads: "Hillel welcomes a diversity of student perspectives on Israel and strives to create an inclusive, pluralistic community…We object to labeling, excluding, or harassing any students for their beliefs and expressions thereof."
In fact, the Brown chapter of Hillel's website has a link to the local chapter of the leftist J Street U group, which brags about having convinced US Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) "to support continued aid to the Palestinian Authority."
Even though only 160 people signed the petition, Mock gave in to the pressure and canceled days before the March 21 lecture.
"We feel the focus of Janet’s work was lost leading up to the proposed event,” Mock's representative is said to have told the Moral Voices organizer.