Letter: The Antisemitic “Academic Freedom” at Princeton

Dear Letter to the Editor:

Recently Princeton Assistant Professor Satyel Larson’s included as required reading Jasbir Puar’s book “The Right to Maim: Debility, Capacity, Disability.” MAIM is the operative word. Puar’s premise is that every shot fired by every IDF soldier since May 1948 is solely aimed to maim Arabs and Palestinians notwithstanding that 28,400 Jews have have been murdered by the Arabs — murdered being the terminology of Arab leader the Grand Mufti Amin al Husseini — since May 1948. This claim of 75 years of  Jews maiming Arabs is a pure blood libel in the tradition of the 1144 blood libel of Thomas of Monmouth and the 1840 Damascus blood libel. Historically the publication of blood libels have been used to incite hatred, violence and murder against Jews.

While academic freedom is important, for Princeton to include antisemitic blood libels as expressed by Puar’s delusional antisemitism as part of its required pedagogy is identical to those 1930s German/Nazi universities that included similar antisemitic balderdash as part of their required pedagogy. The hatred, violence and even murder against Jews that emanated from many of those German universities is documented.

Some of those German universities as a result of such a perverse antisemitic pedagogy have yet to recover their reputations over eighty years later.

It is not a stretch to imagine all the supporters of Larson, who have credulously embraced Puar’s blood libel “pedagogy” to unhesitatingly buy into Hitler-loving Martin Heidegger’s advice in 1939 that “it would be worthwhile inquiry into world Jewry’s predisposition to planetary criminality.” (“Heidegger in Ruins? Grappling with an Antisemitic Philosopher and his Troubling Rebirth Today“, Mathew Sharpe, ‘The Conversation’, April 11, 2023).

Obfuscating the virulent antisemitism of Puar or Heidegger behind hysterical cries of academic freedom presents Princeton as nothing more than a 1930s German/Nazi university which perverted its pedagogy in an identical fashion.

Antisemitism has always been part of Princeton’s reputation. Making the centuries old blood libel required reading in pursuit of “academic freedom” hardly improves the situation.

Further to require students to read Puar’s antisemitic balderdash, a book which violates the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism, will likely trigger a Title VI investigation by the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Education which could result in the loss of millions of dollars in federal funding for Princeton.

Requiring the teaching of progressive Jew hatred under the guise of “academic freedom” may turn out to be very costly for Princeton.

Richard Sherman
Margate, Florida

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