CJL Statement on Israel, Anti-Semitism and Civil Discourse | Center for Jewish Life

CJL Statement on Israel, Anti-Semitism and Civil Discourse

Released May 21, 2021

As the Board of Directors Executive Committee and Student Executive Board of the Center for Jewish Life - Princeton Hillel (CJL), our chief priority is ensuring the well-being and safety of Jewish Princetonians, especially our students. Our goal is to ensure that students feel safe being openly Jewish in a campus climate that promotes open civil dialogue on all issues. In the past two weeks, members of our own Princeton community have been harassed while praying on the CJL lawn and wearing a kippah during Commencement. And around the country, there have been instances of violent attacks against Jews. We must have a campus community and a country where there is safety for all voices, which includes all Jewish voices.

In recent days, Jewish students and community members on campus have expressed increased fear in sharing their support for Israel and speaking out for their beliefs. Contributing to this campus climate is inflammatory one-sided language, most notably the absence of condemnation for Hamas and its attacks against civilians in Israel including members of the Princeton community and their extended families. The toxicity of exchanges on social media and residential college listservs have sometimes moved beyond political disagreement to antisemitism. We condemn the antisemitism that has seeped its way into campus conversations about Israel and beyond. 

CJL is supporting our students in as many ways as possible since the recent conflict in Israel began – praying as a community for Israel; advocating to University administration concerning antisemitism; connecting with peer Hillels around the country for support and guidance and fostering conversations with campus partners who share our commitment to ensuring the safety and well-being of our Jewish students. We are also engaging in dozens of one-on-one conversations with concerned students and supporting students’ communication directly with their peers and the broader community.

CJL understands the immense power of dialogue; it is a cornerstone of our mission and our key strategy for building bridges within the Jewish community and the larger campus community. At this time of hurt, pain, and fear for so many students, we reaffirm our commitment to fostering a campus climate of civility and nuance that includes support for Israel and concern for the Palestinian people, including members of the Princeton community and their extended families. We celebrate that one of our most important values is to build a welcoming community with people of diverse opinions. 

With news of a cease-fire between Israel and Gaza, we pray for lasting peace. CJL is committed to the support of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. We seek to promote fully open dialogue amidst the challenges and complexities of the situation in Israel and the region and to advocate for a safe and respectful campus environment for all.