USC Hillel removes name from NJQ event

USC Hillel removed its name from the Nice Jewish Queers’ Passover Drag Show Facebook event page just before the event occurred Tuesday. USC Hillel said they removed their name because the NJQ added USC Jewish Voice for Peace as a co-sponsor. Hillel

Hillel International restricts partnerships with organizations, like JVP, that do not support Israel’s existence as a Jewish state, allegedly causing the removal of NJQ’s status as a USC Hillel affiliated organization from the event Facebook page description.

“Upon learning that ‘Nice Jewish Queers’ was co-planning and co-sponsoring its Passover Drag Show with University of Southern California’s Queer and Ally student assembly and USC’s Jewish Voice for Peace Chapter, USC Hillel forced NJQ to stop referring to itself as a Hillel-affiliated organization,” Ariella Amit wrote in a public statement on behalf of Open Hillel, a organization focused on fostering openness and inclusivity within the Hillel community.

In the statement, Open Hillel called for USC Hillel and Hillel International to “reaffiliate with NJQ without preconditions and revoke the Standards of Partnership.”

USC Hillel clarified NJQ’s status as a USC Hillel organization in a statement to the Daily Trojan.

“Contrary to misinformation, Nice Jewish Queers remains an affiliate organization of USC Hillel,” the statement read. “USC Hillel disassociated from an event organized by Nice Jewish Queers because Jewish Voices for Peace was added as a co-sponsor without coordination with the primary event sponsors.”

Amit, who helped organize the event on behalf of NJQ and is employed at USC Hillel, said JVP was added as an event sponsor after initial planning had already taken place. QuASA was a co-sponsor since the beginning of the planning process and helped fund the event.

“So I think that these standards of partnership prioritize Hillel’s Israel advocacy over the interests of students, and that is harmful to the organization, and a lot of it’s students who are already marginalized by their identities,” Amit said in an interview with the Daily Trojan.

Roy Pankey, the student who emceed the event, said he was surprised by the addition of the JVP sponsorship. He said he first learned of the sponsorship was when the logo was placed in the header image of the event Facebook page.

“In several preliminary discussions and meetings about the drag show, JVP was never mentioned as a sponsor,” said Pankey, a junior majoring in journalism. “If JVP had been mentioned, somebody from Hillel would’ve definitely spoken up.”

Students who attended the drag show said the event itself did not contain any political tension and went as planned. Concerns only rose before and after, said Lucy Allen, a  junior majoring in cinema and media studies who performed in the show.

Students primary concerns are focused on increasing USC Hillel’s inclusivity.

“I find it problematic that Hillel claims to be this safe space for Jewish students on campus but then heads up this rhetoric that makes Jewishness is synonymous with support for Israel,” said Allen. “A lot of people myself included is not at all the case on critical support for Israel and I find it really objectionable.”