Khalidi Controversy: CJL emails reveal split in board

From the archive (legacy material)

Daily Princetonian | 28 April 2005

The following email messages were sent between Stanley Katz, former CJL board president and Wilson School professor; Arlene Pedovitch ’80, interim CJL director; and Henry Farber, current CJL board president and economics professor; regarding comments made by Pedovitch to The Daily Princetonian. Copies of the messages were obtained from The New York Sun. They are presented unedited, as received from the Sun.
Original message from Katz to Pedovitch and Farber
Dear Arlene and Hank —
I was extremely upset to read Arlene’s comments in the Prince this morning. In the first place, I don’t think the CJL has or should have a position on an academic appointment in this university — but if it does, it should reflect the deliberation of the board, which I do not believe has discussed the Khalidi appointment (although as you know I had to miss the last meeting). In the second place, acknowledging that Arlene may have been misquoted by the reporter, I think it both inaccurate and unacceptable to describe Rashid as”an individual who has a political agenda rather than a scholarly approach to history.” I don’t know how well-versed in Rashid’s scholarship Arlene is, but I think the statement is totally inaccurate as to his scholarship. As to his “political agenda,” of course — and why not? Many of us have political agendas, and it is good for the democracy that we do. The difficulty, as even the benighted Lee Bollinger has figured out, is with professors who do not distinguish their political agendas from their scholarship. Rashid has not done that in my view, and to suggest that he has, as Arlene is quoted as doing is either inaccurate or politically motivated or both. If CJL wants to turn Princeton into Columbia, I want nothing more to do with it. I believe that you, Hank, need to issue a statement clarifying where the Center stands before this situation gets out of hand. We have a search going on and I have every confidence that Miguel and his committee know what the appropriate standards of judgment are. Jeremy, judging from what I know and what he is quoted as saying this morning, has it exactly right. I think that CJL has an obligation to make clear that it respects academic judgments and that it can distinguish between politics and academics. Jonathan Elist is entitled to his view that Rashid’s appointment would have a negative impact on Jewish applications for admission, but I have to say that I do not agree with him — unless, of course students at the Hillel at Princeton contact the David Project and we permit Princeton to be politicized in the way that Columbia has been. I think it is in the interest of those of us in the Jewish community at this university to prevent that from happening. I consider this a very serious and dangerous situation.
Reply from Pedovitch to Katz and Farber:
We did discuss this at the last board meeting. I accurately stated that many alumni are calling me and emailing me and are contacting the administration as well.
Hank and Dan Rubinstein said at the last meeting that the these decisions will be based solely on scholarship and not on any other basis. I tried to say that, obviously not well, to the Prince.
Hank/Stan, Please issue whatever type of statement you feel you should. Stan, it’s me who’s leaving, not you, so you and the board can repudiate any of my remarks that you choose, and say that I was expressing my own opinions. I and many, many others do feel that such an appointment makes a political statement by Princeton University and that this statement will effect Jewish enrolment at Princeton. I don’t know if you realize that on a daily basis, the largest and primary users of the CJL are the more observant community. These are the students who consistently are concerned about anti-Israel rhetoric that is a feature on many campuses. This is one of the questions asked by a very large percentage of visitors to the CJL during April hosting weekend. The Jewish enrolment at Princeton is the lowest in the Ivy League, even half of Harvard’s and Yale’s (and less than Dartmouth). We’re at a level where a significant drop makes the community insignificant.
Would you like me to send the Prince a letter saying that i apologize for not telling the Prince reporter that i was expressing my own views rather than the views of the CJL Board? I’m happy to do so. Would you prefer to write something for me to send to the Prince? Let me know ASAP and feel free to send this email to any of the people on your cc list.
And, lest you think that i instigated this, the Prince emailed me for a meeting yesterday morning, saying they wanted to discuss Jewish representation on campus. I thought, since it was so close to April hosting weekend, it had to do with Jewish enrolment, and was surprised to learn that the discussion was about Khalidi.