Hillel International President and CEO Eric Fingerhut has withdrawn from his speaking engagement at the upcoming J Street conference, citing an unwillingness to be associated with many “other speakers who have made highly inflammatory statements against the Jewish state.”
J Street, which claims to be pro-Israel, was thoroughly turned away by the mainstream Jewish community last April when it was rejected entry into the Conference of Presidents.
“Over the weekend, J Street listed me as a speaker at their upcoming conference. They did this with the permission of my office,” Fingerhut wrote in a statement. “I have concluded that I should not participate in the conference. I regret the inconvenience I have caused.”
On the same day that Fingerhut was announced as a speaker, J Street added lead Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat. Among his most inflammatory comments, Erekat recently compared Israel to the Islamic State. Erekat was also condemned by the US State Department for proposing that the Palestinians may call for an economic boycott of Israel.
Fingerhut, a Democrat and former Ohio Congressman, then continued to clarify that his initial aim of attending the J Street conference was to connect with the students but that the level of anti-Israel vitriol from the scheduled speakers was ultimately too strong.