Student group: Plan to eavesdrop on Hillel CEO ‘a mistake’

Hillel CEO Eric Fingerhut
Hillel CEO Eric Fingerhut

The Open Hillel student network said last week that it was “a mistake” to have accepted information about an internal conference call about Israel on campus in which Hillel CEO Eric Fingerhut took part.

Open Hillel was formed last year to oppose Hillel International’s guidelines on who is welcome in the organization’s campus centers based on their position about Israel. Members believe the guidelines are too restrictive.

The group was told about the impending Oct. 30 call by Danny Blinderman, a staffer at the American Jewish Committee’s Boston office and an Open Hillel member. The call was to be between Fingerhut and AJC staff.

Blinderman contacted members of Open Hillel and in a series of emails they discussed the possibility of Blinderman recording the call and passing the information to Open Hillel. The Washington Free Beacon first reported the story on Nov. 18 after obtaining the emails. In their discussion, the Open Hillel members expressed interest in what Fingerhut would say about their group.

Following the revelations, the AJC fired Blinderman, a 2014 graduate of Wesleyan University.

AJC spokesman Ken Bandler said in a statement that the organization learned after the fact that the call “was shared with unauthorized outsiders.”

“This constituted a serious breach of trust,” Bandler said. “Accordingly, the individual who shared the information is no longer employed by AJC.”

The AJC declined to comment further.

In a statement Open Hillel wrote, “The call was not recorded; merely, information was shared about how Mr. Fingerhut perceived the campus conversation around Israel-Palestine.” The group declined to comment further.

A Hillel International spokesman said that Fingerhut “is not available for interviews.” But David Eden, Hillel’s chief administrative officer, said, “Open Hillel broke the bounds of propriety” when members eavesdropped on the conference call.

Political Reporter Dmitriy Shapiro contributed to this article.

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See also:

An academic exercise

Open Hillel holds first conference at Harvard

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