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A Message to Princeton: The Calls for the Genocide of Jews Are Real

As a Princeton student, I have personally witnessed many calls for genocide on campus, calls that my university president appears to deny.
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December 21, 2023
Photo from Flickr.

On December 12, Princeton University President Christopher Eisgruber issued a statement referring to “hypothetical calls for the genocide of Jews” and confidently declaring that he has “never heard calls for genocide, or calls for murder, on this campus … If ever there were calls for genocide or calls for murder on this campus,” he said, “this University would respond forcefully under its rules in order to protect [its] values.” 

As a Princeton student, I have personally witnessed many calls for genocide on campus, calls that my university president appears to deny. During the recent explosion of  demonstrations on campus, students chanted “From Princeton to Gaza, globalize the Intifada,” a clear call for violence against Jews on this very campus; “One Solution, Intifada revolution,” ominously — and perhaps intentionally — invoking Hitler’s Final Solution; and “From the water to the water, Palestine is Arab” in Arabic (Min al-mayye il al-mayye, falastin arabiyye), an explicit directive to entirely rid Israel of its Jews, and perhaps Christians too. 

The vociferous calls for genocide on campus must shape how we read Eisgruber’s statement, as it effectively leaves readers with two possible interpretations. Either Eisgruber is genuinely unaware of these incidents or has decided on his own to dismiss the claim that the aforementioned chants are “calls for genocide” as ‘not serious’. 

If the former is the case, then our university president is extremely out of touch with what is happening on his campus — and it is not for lack of notice from the student body. Jewish students have repeatedly turned to members of the administration to discuss these incidents and their impact on Princeton’s Jewish community: Countless campus news articles and op-eds have referenced calls for “intifada” and campus protestors’ assertions that “resistance is justified,” and other rationalizations for the mass murder, rape and kidnappings on Oct. 7 in the name of ‘resistance to colonialism,’ and an open letter, signed by almost 2,000 Princeton alumni, students, faculty and staff, addressed directly to President Eisgruber that expressed concern over Princeton’s lack of response to campus antisemitism.

Since it is virtually impossible that the university administration remains unaware of these clear calls to violence against Jews on campus, the second option presented is the only plausible message being communicated. In other words, calling for genocide would be unacceptable, but nothing that has happened up until this point reaches some arbitrary threshold yet to be articulated by the powers that be. I appreciate that Eisgruber acknowledged that “calling for the genocide or murder of Jews or any group is always wrong and appalling,” but that does not give him and Princeton a pass to misrepresent the campus climate. By reinterpreting and downplaying antisemitic language that promotes violence against Jews on campus, Eisgruber has made it clear that when it comes to protecting Jewish students on campus, the university will turn a blind eye. It is a strategy unthinkable had this type of language been directed at any other identity or group in our university community.

All I ask of Princeton’s leadership is to stand for moral clarity; all I ask is that they ensure that I and my fellow Jewish students are safe on campus. 

All I ask of Princeton’s leadership is to stand for moral clarity; all I ask is that they ensure that I and my fellow Jewish students are safe on campus. The challenges we confront today extend beyond our immediate moment; today is not just about today — it also shapes the trajectory of our collective future. The current events, with calls for violence against Jews all the while generating indifference on the part of those in authority, recall the harrowing tales of my grandparents, survivors of the Holocaust, in the years leading up to the Second World War. No one seemed to care, no one could be bothered, no one took the threats seriously or could be roused out of their slumber. The bitter consequences of blithely dismissing the ‘hypothetical’ are there for all to see.


Alexandra Orbuch is a Junior at Princeton University studying History. She serves as publisher of the Princeton Tory, the university’s journal for conservative thought.

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