'I am disappointed that this book is on an assigned reading list at Princeton University, a school where antisemitism and anti-Israel rhetoric continues to make Jewish students feel unsafe'
Princeton University declined a demand that it remove a book from one of its classes that is critical of Israel and makes the claim that Israelis experiment on Palestinians and harvest their organs, following a letter from a New Jersey congressman.
Congressman Josh Gottheimer's letter criticized a book, "The Right to Maim: Debility, Capacity, Disability," by Rutgers University Professor Jasbir Puar that is included in a fall class, "The Healing Humanities: Decolonizing Trauma Studies from the Global South."
The congressman (pictured) also noted his role in appropriations, which includes federal funds that could or could not flow to Princeton.
"As we enter the 2023-2024 academic year, I remain committed to ensuring our nation's institutions of higher education, including private universities like Princeton, which receive federal research dollars, honor their responsibility to protect Jewish students and root out antisemitism and hate," he wrote.
"I am disappointed that this book is on an assigned reading list at Princeton University, a school where antisemitism and anti-Israel rhetoric continues to make Jewish students feel unsafe," Gottheimer wrote.
The University has publicized its commitment to diversity and inclusion, and must not misinterpret that mission to exclude Jewish students. Princeton should please reconsider allowing the work of an author like Jasbir Puar, who is known to traffic in vile antisemitic tropes, to appear on school-sanctioned reading lists. Puar is a noted antagonist of Israel, whose criticism clearly crosses the line into antisemitism.
The university rejected his criticism.
President Christopher Eisgruber noted that he himself is Jewish and that academic freedom, according to the president, protects the book.
"When faculty members teach a course within our curriculum, academic freedom protects their right to decide what texts they will assign and how best to cover the subject matter," he wrote.
"Those who disagree with a book, or a syllabus, are free to criticize it but not to censor it.," President Eisgruber wrote. "Such arguments are the lifeblood of a great university, where controversies must be addressed through deliberation and debate, not administrative fiat."
He said students can make their own decisions about the content in the classroom.
"I have no doubt that they have the intelligence and independence to interrogate, challenge, and learn from texts with which they disagree," he wrote. "This University will continue to foster those discussions inside and outside the classroom, and we will adhere steadfastly to the principles of free speech and academic freedom that are essential to our mission."