Queen’s Hillel criticizes Muslim-Jewish symposium over speakers

Controversy over Muslim-Jewish event

Queen’s Hillel criticized a Muslim-Jewish symposium for alleged lack of “mainstream Jewish voices.”
Journal File Photo

Queen’s Hillel criticized a symposium focused on Muslim-Jewish solidarity last week, saying in a Facebook post the event lacked “mainstream Jewish voices.”

The Jewish Studies Department, History Department, and Muslim Societies Global Perspectives Initiative sponsored a symposium on Feb. 28 and 29 called “Becoming Allies: Muslim-Jewish Solidarity in the Face of Islamophobia and Antisemitism.”

The event included a discussion led by historian Barry Trachtenberg from Wake Forest University and San Francisco State University sociologist Rabab Abdulhadi. According to the Queen’s Events calendar post, the two were scheduled to “speak about their experience as scholars and educators in the area of ethnic and religious studies on United States campuses.”

On Feb. 25, Queen’s Hillel criticized the symposium in a Facebook post.

“Due to the narrow perspectives of the presenters, the fact that no mainstream Jewish community voices have been asked to participate, and the fact that the program takes place over Shabbat, Hillel, supported by CIJA, has communicated our very serious concerns to organizers and members of the Queen’s administration,” the statement read.

The Journal reached out to Hillel for comment and was referred back to the Facebook post. They declined to answer further questions, citing the fact none of their members had attended the symposium due to its overlap with the Jewish day of rest.

Of particular concern to Hillel was what the organization called the lack of mainstream Jewish voices represented at the event, saying it “undermines the noble pursuit of interfaith partnership-building.”

“When talking about representation at a given talk or event, it’s important to realize that almost no event is organized to represent every possible viewpoint,” Sam Connolly, ArtSci ’20, who attended the event, wrote in a statement to The Journal.

“When people organize Birthright and pro-Israel events, they do not receive backlash for not inviting anti-Zionist Jews or Palestinians,” Connolly wrote. “The Becoming Allies symposium was organized to build solidarity and relationships between Jews and Muslims, and it centered [on] messages of unity and support between communities.”

Connolly told The Journal they believe Hillel’s view is that the mainstream Jewish ideology is Zionism, which alienates Jewish students who are anti-Zionist.

As of the date the statement was posted, Hillel wrote that its concerns hadn’t been addressed by the symposium organizers.


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