In Response to: One Jew’s Journey

In an otherwise excellent and balanced piece “One Jew’s Journey” on Rabbi Gil Steinlauf ’91 and the Princeton CJL, two modest supplements provide context. 

Objections to the speaker Mohammed El-Kurd went beyond the described El-Kurd references “to the [Jewish] Anti-Defamation League” (which pre-dates Israel) “as the ‘Apartheid Defense League’” and his comparison of Israel to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (even though Israel has offered in writing plans in 1967, 2000, and 2008 to withdraw from all or almost all disputed territories, all of which have been rejected by Palestinian leadership without any meaningful counter), and were to his prior hateful, racist statements, deploying age-old antisemitic lies, that Israelis “harvest organs of the martyred [Palestinians],” have an “unquenchable thirst for Palestinian blood,” are “genocidal,” denying the facts of Jewish connection to Israel as “fictional indigenity [sic]”, and justifying his denial in overt racist terms: “How are Israelis gonna say they’re indigenous to Palestine but can’t walk outside without getting sunburned?”

Also, the reduction of Jewish admissions in the 1920s and decades after were more malicious than implied by the dean of admission’s denial and the Princeton president’s wife’s admission as to quotas. Correspondence published in Jerome Karabel’s 2005 book The Chosen shows the Princeton secretary issued an appeal to alumni to “tip us off to any Hebrew candidates” for otherwise the “Hebrew question will become serious,” and from a Princeton trustee to a Harvard Board member explaining Princeton’s “somewhat arbitrary basis for selection . . . which permits racial moulding . . . and . . . consequently no Jew question at Princeton,” after which the Harvard Board member wrote about avoiding a “Jewish inundation.”

Demonstrating an ongoing, visceral hatred of Jews, a tiny tip of an iceberg of antisemitism, which has endured for three millennia, provides context to the need for the CJL.

Seth Akabas ’78
New York, N.Y.