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Response to Eisgruber: Your erasure of Palestinian suffering is not “inclusive.”

A silhouette of steeple with spire in the dark.

The cupola of Nassau Hall at nightfall.

Louisa Gheorghita / The Daily Princetonian

The following is a guest contribution and reflects the author’s views alone. For information on how to submit a piece to the Opinion section, click here.

It is the 113th day of the Gaza genocide. Israel has killed over 25,000 Palestinians, including 10,000 children. Over 60,000 Gazans are wounded. 1.9 million are displaced. Meanwhile, in President Eisgruber’s Annual “Letter to the Community,” there is no mention of the daily brutal violence that Israel inflicts on Palestinians — horrors that traumatize us all, especially Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims on campus.


Israeli soldiers have heeded Netanyahu’s invocation of “Amalek,” the Biblical reference widely interpreted as a call for the extermination of Palestinian “men and women, children and infants.” They dance and sing that “there are no uninvolved civilians.” They proudly post videos of themselves looting homes and abusing Palestinians who are “stripped naked or half-naked, blindfolded and handcuffed, and screaming in pain,” as reported by the Times of Israel.

Eisgruber’s letter reiterates disgust for Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel, but ignores the following 113 days of Israel’s bombardment and siege of Gaza — crimes that have landed Israel in the International Court of Justice. It lauds the University’s commitment to “academic freedom” and “excellence,” while staying silent on Israel’s assault on education in Gaza, which some have called a “scholasticide.” Israel has killed hundreds of Palestinians sheltering in schools, including a reported massacre where Israeli forces shot women, children, and babies point-blank. Israel has killed 94 professors in targeted attacks and destroyed or at least severely damaged every university in Gaza. The Israeli military occupied Al-Israa University for 70 days, looting over 3,000 rare artifacts and using it as a detention center for civilian interrogation. Finally, they demolished it with land mines.

In his letter, Eisgruber’s fails to make a direct mention of the Gaza genocide. As a Muslim student and a Palestine solidarity activist, we find this offensive and deeply hurtful to our communities. While Eisgruber claims to value diversity, equity, and inclusion, his letter is an erasure of Palestinian life, and an erasure of Palestinian and pro-Palestinian students from the University community.

Eisgruber’s letter frames Jewish students as the central victims on campus, with several paragraphs dedicated to how the University opposes anti-semitism. Though Eisgruber mentions the three Palestinian students that were shot in Burlington, Vermont while wearing kufiya — a symbol of Palestinian identity — he only makes one other vague, token reference to “anti-Arab and Islamophobic hatred.” His only mention of the pro-Palestinian student experience on Princeton’s campus is as follows: “Jewish students have reported feeling unsafe. Pro-Palestinian students and faculty have been doxxed for expressing views deemed to be antisemitic.” 

The letter fails to name “Palestinians” and “Arabs” as communities that are part of the University community, instead featuring them as mere causes for activism, and therefore fails to acknowledge their tremendous ongoing suffering. Furthermore, Eisgruber counterposes the trauma of Jewish and pro-Palestinian students, as if to imply that these groups are opposed to one another. Even as he laments doxxing, his framing of its cause — supposedly antisemitic sentiment — validates the claim that pro-Palestine activism harms Jewish students. 

We remind you that last fall, at Princeton, there were no incidents of pro-Palestinian student protestors assaulting Jewish students; rather, it was a pro-Israel University employee who assaulted a Jewish pro-Palestinian activist at a rally for ceasefire in Palmer Square. Last September, it was a pro-Israel organization that sent Jumbotron trucks to harass the Alliance of Jewish Progressives for defending a professor’s right to teach materials critical of Israel.


Secondly, pro-Palestinian activists are not doxxed, harassed, and assaulted because our “views [are] deemed to be antisemitic.” We are under attack for opposing Israel’s US-backed genocide. Zionists dox us in attempts to silence any and all advocacy for Palestinian life — putting us at risk of persistent vitriolic harassment, dismissal from our workplaces, and bodily harm. They have attacked protestors and use language that suggests they should be subject to rape and gun violence.

At Princeton, the Publisher of the Princeton Tory, the Canary Mission, and a writer for the National Review have all broadcasted the names, faces, and/or contact information of pro-Palestinian students to expose us publicly to abuse, amounting to doxxing. The inboxes of doxxed students have been flooded with threatening, racist, Islamophobic messages and slurs; for example, “antisemitic pig,” “antisemite Jihadist Nazi,” “Nazi motherf*cker,” “evil scum,” and “I will personally have you deported.”

In a political and social climate reminiscent of the months after 9/11, Eisgruber’s letter is downplaying the anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab, and Islamophobic violence spreading in this country and abroad.

Last fall, in addition to the three Palestinian students who were shot in Vermont, an Arab Muslim student at Stanford University was injured in a hit-and-run by a driver who allegedly shouted “fuck you and your people.” 

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On Jan. 19, at Columbia University, pro-Palestine protesters were attacked with a spray that several students identified as “Skunk,” a foul-smelling, illegal chemical weapon that many have asserted the Israeli military invented to collectively punish Palestinian protesters in the occupied West Bank. Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) said that eight of them were hospitalized and many sought emergency medical treatment. The victims identified their attackers as fellow students and Israeli veterans. Over a week later, no arrests have been made, and according to SJP’s Instagram the suspects continue to be seen on campus, although Columbia claims to have banned them.

While Eisgruber advises that pro-Palestinian students avoid “provocative​​” slogans like “from the river to the sea,” let us remember who the University promotes as its “experts.” On Oct. 9, 2023, the University sponsored a recorded lecture by Professor and ex-US Ambassador to Israel, Daniel Kurtzer. Only two days after Oct. 7, he implicated Iran — at the time, even the Israeli military said that there was no concrete evidence of Iran’s involvement — and flouted a wider war as an outcome: “Will we see a wider war? Can Iran escape retribution for engineering this if that in fact has been the case?”

Kurtzer then echoed Israeli justifications for targeting Palestinian hospitals. But in the same breath, he denied that Israel has ever destroyed a hospital, despite the mountains of evidence that Israel has targeted hospitals and medical infrastructure during earlier military sieges on Gaza in 2008-9, 2012, 2014, and 2021. Since Oct. 7, Israeli forces have destroyed or incapacitated more than half of Gaza’s 36 hospitals through bombs, shelling, and ground raids.

Any invocation of “excellence” and “inclusivity” is ethically void as long as this University’s administration remains complicit and silent on Israel’s scholasticide, occupation, and genocide of the Palestinian people. For the University to truly live up to those values, we demand that Eisgruber release a statement to clearly acknowledge the suffering of Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims, and pro-Palestinians on campus and abroad — just as he issued a clear statement regarding the war in Ukraine — and to denounce Israel’s horrific military campaign. We await this basic recognition of our humanity.

Ellen Li is a senior in Comparative Literature and in the Princeton Students for Justice in Palestine. Humza Gondal is a PhD candidate in the Department of Near Eastern Studies.