Letter to the Editor: Statement opposing Tzipi Hotovely’s visit to the Center for Jewish Life| Nov 5, 2017
Editor's Note: As of the time of publishing, the Center for Jewish Life has indefinitely postponed this event with Member of Knesset Tzipi Hotovely until it is vetted through the CJL's Israel Advisory Committee.
The evening of Nov. 7, the Center for Jewish Life will host Tzipi Hotovely, Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister. Hotovely’s visit to Princeton is part of a college tour with Columbia and NYU as well. These visits are timed to coincide with the release of Israeli pamphlets designed to help students defend the Israeli government’s positions. 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 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. On the topic of settlements, she claimed, “This land is ours. All of it is ours. We did not come here to apologize for that.” 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.”
By inviting MK Hotovely to speak, the Center for Jewish Life violates its own official policy on Israel-related events, which states that “The CJL will not, however, 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.” In clear violation of this policy, Hotovely has repeatedly made racist statements.
Furthermore, the CJL’s Israel Policy has previously served as a thinly veiled method to exclude left-wing voices. The CJL has refused to co-sponsor or has qualified their sponsorship of events proposed by the Alliance of Jewish Progressives that skewed left-of-center on Israeli politics, with speakers such as feminist activist Penny Rosenwasser and Israeli filmmaker Shimon Dotan. If the Center for Jewish Life claims to host speakers with diverse voices and opinions, it must subject all political views on Israel to the same standard of scrutiny. The CJL claims to be a home for all Jewish students on campus, and moreover claims to support open-minded dialogue about Israel. We firmly reject the CJL’s choice to host a racist speaker like Hotovely while it continues to quiet progressive voices.
Finally, the CJL’s decision to sponsor this event implies that the CJL and its affiliated student groups support the decision to host Hotovely. As engaged members of the CJL community, we in no way support Hotovely’s racist statements. We refuse to let Hotovely use us to legitimize her goals. We feel ashamed of the CJL’s misrepresentation of our Jewish community’s politics and values. We will not sit by quietly as the Israeli government continues to entrench its control over Palestinians. We will not be silent as members of our Princeton community further these hateful and racist policies.
The Alliance of Jewish Progressives and Allies
Yitz Landes, Religion, GS2
Young Democratic Socialists of Princeton
Joshua Judd Porter
Princeton Committee on Palestine
J Street U Princeton
Madeleine Le Cesne
Maya von Ziegesar
Tigers for Israel, President Emeritus
Rohana Chase, Young Democratic Socialists
Francois Laforge, International Socialist Organization
Celia Aranda Reina
Rod Eric Joseph
Muslim Advocates for Social Justice & Individual Dignity (MASJID)