Princeton Hillel director cancels Deputy Foreign Minister’s talk on campus

“You are silencing the voice of Israeli democracy,” Hotovely responded to the progressive group that accused Hotovely of racism.

November 6, 2017 21:54
3 minute read.
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely pictured at Columbia University.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely pictured at Columbia University.. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Princeton University’s Hillel House on Monday canceled a planned address by Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, following a petition by a progressive Jewish group on campus.

In a letter to the Israeli Consulate in New York, Rabbi Julie Roth, executive director of the Center for Jewish Life on Princeton’s campus, stated “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.”

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Hotovely had been scheduled to speak on Tuesday. On her current campus tour, she already spoke at the Columbia University Hillel and plans to speak at the NYU Hillel.

The “students who pushed [CJL to be] consistent” are the Alliance of Jewish Progressives, who put out a petition accusing Hotovely of being a racist.

The AJP took issue with pamphlets Hotovely is disseminating on her current campus tour, which are meant to help students defend Israel, saying they “blatantly disregard any Palestinian claim to the land and amount to little more than propaganda.”

She has already lectured at Columbia University, and is scheduled to speak at New York University on Tuesday.

“Hotovely’s work causes irreparable damage to the prospects of a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” the students wrote. “She has stated her opposition to a Palestinian state and has made it her mission to expand settlement construction in the West Bank."


“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 [Temple Mount]. In a recent speech in the Israeli Parliament, Hotovely spoke directly to Palestinian [Israeli Arab] 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 student group argued that inviting Hotovely to speak violates the Hillel’s Israel programming policy, which states that it “will not…sponsor groups or speakers that, as a matter of policy or practice, foster an atmosphere of incivility, intend to harm Israel or promote racism or hatred of any kind,” and that Hotovely is a “racist speaker.”

“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,” they wrote.

Hotovely will give her speech at the Princeton Chabad, instead.

The deputy foreign minister wrote to Roth that she was “shocked” to learn of the last-minute cancellation.

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

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

Renowned attorney and Israel advocate Alan Dershowitz, who has also faced cancellations of his speeches due to progressive protests, called the cancellation “outrageous censorship.”

“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,” he said.

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