Israel Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely was able to speak at Princeton University on Monday even though the campus Hillel canceled the speech in face of pressure.
Hotovely was initially scheduled to speak at Princeton Hillel’s Center for Jewish Life (CJL), but Hillel canceled the event after the Alliance of Jewish Progressives (AJP) lobbied for the cancellation.
“Hotovely’s work causes irreparable damage to the prospects of a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” AJP wrote in a letter published in The Daily Princetonian. “She has stated her opposition to a Palestinian state and has made it her mission to expand settlement construction in the West Bank.”
The letter added that the CJL was hosting “a racist speaker” and silencing “progressive voices” in doing so.
Rabbi Julie Roth, executive director of the CJL, explained in a letter to the Israeli consulate in New York their decision to cancel Hotovely.
“This program will be reviewed by our Israel Advisory Committee and we will refine our procedures to learn from this experience,” wrote Roth. “We look forward to continued robust and healthy debate around Israel in our community.”
Hotovely criticized the CJL’s decision in a letter to Roth.
“By canceling this lecture, you are infringing on the fundamental academic freedom of the students,” wrote Hotovely. “You are denying the basic freedom of students to hear different points of views, to question, challenge and think for themselves.”
Hotovely added later on in the letter that Roth was “silencing the voice of Israeli democracy” and stated that “a liberal dictatorship is ruling here.”
Fortunately for Hotovely, Princeton Chabad’s agreed to host her instead and she ended up speaking after all.
The head of Princeton’s Chabad, Rabbi Eitan Webb, introduced Hotovely and said, “We bend over backwards to give free speech to all.”
“Asking difficult questions is a part of listening,” said Webb.