Gil Steinlauf ’91 (“One Jew’s Journey,” May issue) sounds like someone I could like as a person, and I appreciate his thoughts about Jewish commitment to diversity of views and civil debate. If I were at Princeton today, however, it would be hard to use the Center for Jewish Life to explore my relation to my heritage.
The question of support for the current State of Israel deeply divides Jews in the U.S. I read both the Princeton Committee on Palestine’s call for a boycott of Israel Tiger Trek and Rabbi Steinlauf’s response. I am baffled by his premise that one cannot denounce the Israeli government’s lethal repression of those resisting occupiers, including children, without crossing “a line by engaging in age-old, classic antisemitic references to child killing.” And I am angered by being told, once again, that it is antisemitic to be among those who see a state created by European Jews on others’ expropriated territory as colonial.
Not that his views are any more fringe these days than my own. And I am not saying that the head of CJL should not hold them. But to politicize that institution by vehemently committing it to one side of a heated controversy and calling the other side antisemitic seems to contradict the rabbi’s statements about the Jewish tradition of finding truth through respectfully embracing different views. And it certainly brands the center as a place that I probably could not comfortably enter, much less affiliate with.