News and Commentary

Princeton Hillel Cancels Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister’s Speech After Progressives Complain

Princeton University’s Hillel House was forced to cancel a planned speech from Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, after a progressive Jewish group on campus complained Hotovely was “pro-Israel,” and accused the government official of “racism.”

The event was moved to a Chabad, located on campus, but that only barely satiated the angry progressives who campaigned forcefully ahead of Hotovely’s appearance, accusing the foreign minister of all manner of sins, stemming from the bare fact that Hotovely is a member of the Israeli government.

Princeton’s Center for Jewish Life apologized for inviting Hotovely to speak on campus without “properly vetting” her credentials:

The Center for Jewish Life at Princeton decided to postpone the program with Member of Knesset Tzipi Hotovely until we can properly vet the program through our Israel Advisory Committee. We are fortunate that our colleagues at Chabad agreed to host the program today as originally scheduled and we are encouraging our students who are interested to attend. We regret the last-minute change and apologize to Ms. Hotovely for the inconvenience. We look forward to a continued robust and healthy debate around Israel in our community.

The “Alliance of Jewish Progressives” was reportedly responsible for Hotovely’s last-minute move. In an open letter, published in the Daily Princetonian, the leftist Jewish organization, tore into the Center for Jewish Life for daring to bring Hotovely to campus, knowing that she supports the right of Israel to exist, and could have plied students with “pro-Israel literature.”

According to a recent article in the Times of Israel, Hotovely “hopes to arm pro-Israel campus activists with ‘official content’ that will help them answer questions they might encounter from the pro-Palestinian camp.” Yet, with statements like “settlements are not an obstacle to peace,” the pamphlets blatantly disregard any Palestinian claim to the land and amount to little more than propaganda.

Hotovely’s alarming vision for the future of the region is coupled with a complete rejection of Palestinian history and connection to key sites such as the Haram al-Sharif. In a recent speech in the Israeli Parliament, Hotovely spoke directly to Palestinian Members of Knesset, saying, “You are thieves of history. Your history books are empty, and you are trying to co-opt Jewish history and Islamicize it.”

The group went on to excoriate Hotovely for opposing a peace agreement that would have forced Israel to forefeit its own land. “Hotovely’s work causes irreparable damage to the prospects of a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She has stated her opposition to a Palestinian state and has made it her mission to expand settlement construction in the West Bank,” they whined.

And as if that weren’t enough, AJP went on to call Hotovely a “racist,” and declared their intent to “persist” in opposing Hotovely’s “goals.” We in no way support Hotovely’s racist statements. We refuse to let Hotovely use us to legitimize her goals … We will not sit by quietly as the Israeli government continues to entrench its control over Palestinians.”

Hotovely was not silent in response. After moving her speech to a Chabad, she, herself, tore into Princeton, accusing the Center for Jewish Life of bending to a “liberal dictatorship” that was trying to silence any voice that opposes the progressive viewpoint.

“By canceling this lecture, you are infringing on the fundamental academic freedom of the students,” Hotovely wrote in a letter to the school following her speech. “You are denying the basic freedom of students to hear different points of view, to question, challenge and think for themselves.”

“Furthermore,” she added, “by agreeing to the demands of radical voices, you are silencing the voice of Israeli democracy.”