Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely pictured at Columbia University..
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely gave her planned speech at Princeton University on Monday night. However, it was Chabad who hosted her after the Princeton Hillel canceled the event due to a progressive group’s petition.
In a tweet following the event, Hotovely thanked Princeton students and the campus Chabad “for not surrendering to the liberal dictatorship, and insisting on allowing the students to have academic freedom and [access to] a variety of opinions on campus. It was fascinating.”
Deputy Diplomacy Minister Michael Oren said he is “ashamed that the Hillel at Princeton, my alma mater, denied Deputy Minister Hotovely the right to speak. Israeli officials shouldn’t speak there.”
In an email obtained by The Jerusalem Post
on Tuesday, Princeton Chabad Rabbi Eitan Webb said he and his wife, Gitty, “Felt that free speech should be upheld, and we are proud to say that [Chabad] replaced the original sponsor.” He described the event as “packed... with more than 100 people, standing room only.”
Webb opened the event by telling attendees about his trips to Israel over the years. “I have met with many types of people and had untold numbers of conversations. Sometimes they soothe me. Other times they are upsetting. Or thought provoking.
“Conversations. That’s how we learn,” Webb added. “The reflections and the dialogue which results from those conversations are the core of our independent thinking... We bend over backwards to give free speech to all, and it is an honor to make sure that this ideal is upheld tonight.”
Webb said he’s proud of Israelis, who “live in a complex region surrounded by hostility,” and encouraged the audience to “work toward understanding their circumstances and show support.”
The Princeton Hillel’s executive director Rabbi Julie Roth wrote on Monday – the day of Hotovely’s planned speech – that she had “decided to indefinitely postpone the program... until we can properly vet the program through our Israel Advisory Committee.”
The cancellation came after the Alliance of Jewish Progressives, a campus group, circulated a petition calling Hotovely a racist because she opposes a Palestinian state, supports settlements. The petition cited a specific example of her criticizing Joint List MKs for supporting a UNESCO resolution that denied Israel’s connection to the Temple Mount, and called Judaism’s holiest site by its Islamic name, “Haram al-Sharif,” or the “Noble Sanctuary” in Arabic.
This is not the first time Chabad has hosted a pro-Israel event that was canceled due to pressure from progressive groups.
Last month, Stanford University’s Hillel canceled an event on the day it was supposed to take place, featuring a Reservists on Duty group of Christians, Muslims and Beduin talking about their life as minorities in Israel. The local Chabad hosted the event, instead.
In addition, Chabad hosted a controversial event at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law titled “The Liberal Case for Israel,” which was to be addressed by noted Israel advocate Prof. Alan Dershowitz and was in danger of being canceled.
Dershowitz said of Hillel’s backing out of Hotovely’s event: “It suggests that the students lack the ability to assess a speaker’s ideas and need a committee to tell them who they can listen to.”