The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday December 3rd

Op-ed: UNC Hillel student leaders respond to recent DTH column

We unequivocally condemn threats made to anyone or a journalist for their opinion but reserve the right to respond to some of the disinformation that was conveyed in a recent op-ed about our community. As Jewish student leaders at UNC Hillel who went on a Taglit Birthright trip to Israel this summer, it is important for us to share our perspective on what we see as a problematic op-ed published in and subsequently removed from the DTH last week titled "When Studying Abroad Becomes Political."

Birthright is a ten-day trip to Israel in which we were able to create deep and meaningful connections with our fellow Jewish Tar Heels while in Israel, to be able to see, touch and walk through the places that we read about in the Torah (the Hebrew Bible). For us, as Jewish students living as a minority at UNC and in the United States, Birthright means so much more than simply a trip abroad: it is a chance to explore our Jewish identity, both religiously and culturally. 

The op-ed failed to mention the religious significance of the land of Israel to the Jewish people. It gave a false narrative of our Birthright experience that was not based on the actual content of the trip, but rather it focused solely on the political landscape of Israel and not the other significant aspects that a trip like Birthright has for Jewish students. And even more damaging, it targeted the Jewish students on this campus as deserving of special scrutiny and condemnation. The goal of Hillel Birthright trips is Jewish identity and community building through discussion, touring, interaction with Israelis, and group activities. These trips are not designed to examine every aspect of the modern state of Israel or the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Many of us left the trip recognizing that the conflict is a complicated situation, one in which many of us want to continue to learn more about both sides after returning home.  

We are thankful to have UNC Hillel on our campus as a space to explore and create our personal relationship with Israel. We, as student leaders, aim to represent and acknowledge the vast diversity of Jewish voices on our campus. It is important to plainly state that the author not only dismissed the deep relationship that many Jews have with Israel, but he also appeared uninterested in actually learning about what our relationship is. In the spirit of continued learning, we invite and encourage the author of this op-ed, the editors of the Daily Tar Heel and other members of the UNC campus community to join us for an open lecture hosted by UNC Hillel on Sept. 13 to hear Ambassador Dennis Ross and expert on Arab-Israeli relations and the peace process, Ghaith al-Omari, speak about the conflict and a path forward to peace.

Hallie Lovin
UNC Hillel President, Class of 2023 

Chad Purcell
UNC Hillel Vice President, Class of 2023


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