Antisemitism at Princeton University. . . Again?

In an August 7, 2023 Jewish News Syndicate (JNS) article, Menachem Wecker reports on an all-too-familiar antisemitic activity, this from one of America’s most prestigious universities, Princeton, which is apparently allowing one of the most outrageous anti-Jewish accusations to be propagated. And it is not the first time this has happened at Princeton. In fact, these experiences are too common on liberal university campuses in the United States.

In what is described as a “modern-day antisemitic blood libel,” one of many spread through the centuries, a forthcoming Princeton University course reading list includes The Right to Maim: Debility, Capacity, Disability by Jasbir Puar, a Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and Director of the Graduate Program in Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University.

Published in 2017 by Duke University Press, the book won the National Women’s Studies Association’s Alison Piepmeier Book Prize in 2018. The book is part of a sample reading list for an upcoming Princeton University Humanities course.

The book promotes “queer”/homosexual/transgender, progressive liberal agendas along with Black Lives Matter propaganda and other social justice themes. The book blames nearly all of the world’s ills on the United States and Israel. 

Arsen Ostrovsky, CEO of the International Legal Forum, a network of lawyers, wrote a letter to Christopher Ludwig Eisgruber, President of Princeton, and Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi, Chair of Princeton’s Near Eastern Studies Department.

In the letter he writes, “The book in question contains a number of very serious and defamatory accusations, primarily that the Israel Defense Forces is harvesting the organs of Palestinians, including by ‘shooting to maim, rather than to kill,’ in order to create a ‘mass debilitation of Palestinian bodies.’ This charge is not only demonstrably false, but a modern-day antisemitic blood libel.”

Ostrovsky reminds that Princeton hosted a lecture in February by Mohammed El-Kurd, who he describes as “a notorious Jerusalem-based Palestinian activist, whom the Anti-Defamation League has called an ‘unvarnished, vicious’ antisemite, and who himself has also sickeningly accused Israelis of harvesting and eating the organs of Palestinians.”

Ostrovsky told JNS that his group requests the book be removed because it lacks educational value and scholarly merit, and because of the “potential for incitement to racial hatred and violence against the Jewish community by the use of age-old antisemitic blood libels.”

As reported in the JNS article, Morton Klein, National President of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), Susan Tuchman, Director of the Center for Law and Justice, and Jonathan Ginsburg, Managing Director of ZOA Campus, also wrote to Satyel Larson, Assistant Professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton, and the Professor for the course The Healing Humanities: Decolonizing Trauma Studies from the Global South, listed as an offering in fall 2023-24, stating “Puar’s book is filled with anti-Israel falsehoods. Mandating your students to read this antisemitic book will likely lead them to unwarranted animosity toward Israel and Jews.” They added, “We strongly urge you to replace Puar’s book with a book that is based on the facts.”

They urge Princeton to rethink the “misguided and dangerous decision,” suggesting “If the goal is to educate, rather than indoctrinate Princeton students with false anti-Israel propaganda, then there are accurate books about the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict to include on your syllabus.” They conclude “Puar’s book is not worthy of a place on any reading list at Princeton and should be removed from yours.”

In a follow-up JNS opinion article, Davis Suissa summarizes “In his book Israel Denial, scholar Cary Nelson asserts that Puar’s work ‘suffers from basic flaws in the principles and practices that guide it—her methodology, her standards of evidence, her style of argumentation, her lack of interest in opposing views, her penchant for drawing conclusions unsupported by facts, and her willingness to let political convictions guide every aspect of her anti-Zionist project.’”

Blessors’ Key Takeaways

  • Antisemitism is on the rise in colleges and universities across the United States (See “Anti-Semitism on College Campuses across US”).
  • Books that lack educational value and scholarly merit should not be part of an educational curriculum.
  • Books passed-off as scholarly works should be reviewed by educational institutions, especially when they are grossly antisemitic and when they make outrageous claims that have no substantiation, which is the “luxury” of Israel’s enemies, who regularly fabricate stories, alter events, misreport, or purposely mislead receivers of their messages/reports.
  • Efforts to indoctrinate students in discredited conspiracies should be challenged, and blatant antisemitic propaganda promoted by any institution should be exposed and rejected.

Blessors’ Bottom Line

  • All forms of antisemitism have Satan as their source (See “What’s at the Heart of Anti-Semitism?”). 
  • Though Satan’s future is sealed, he has not given up the fight. He wants to destroy Israel to prevent the return of Jesus Christ and the establishment of His Millennial Kingdom (Revelation 19-20).
  • Christians must understand what is behind all forms of antisemitism and reject whatever form antisemitism takes.

Geoff Hetrick and Dr. Matthew Dodd

August 11, 2023