by Jerry Gordon | NewEnglishReview.org | July 3, 2011
Rutgers - the New Jersey State University - has been a battleground between virulently anti-Israel and pro-Israel advocacy for nearly a decade. Back in 2003, you had avowed Communist and Rutgers Law Student Charlotte Kates who became a fixture in the National Students International and Palestinian Solidarity Movements who spoke of “suicide bombers as a tool of justice, and against the right of Israel to exist as a sovereign state.” Then there was the clownish Rutgers senior, Abe Greenhouse who threw a cream pie in the face of Israeli human rights icon, Natan Sharansky, at a campus talk in 2003 before an audience of 500. Israeli security guards wrestled Greenhouse to the ground giving him a broken nose and bloddy lip for his efforts. Greenhouse had the chutzpah to put a note in the Kotel or Western Wall in Jerusalem saying: "end the mother f-----g occupation.” Greenhouse wasconvicted in a New Jersey court of a disorderly persons offense and fined a paltry $200 for the Sharansky pie throwing incident three years later in 2006.
More recently in January, 2011, another Rutgers anti-Israel hate fest sponsored by a group called BAKA: “Students United for Middle Eastern Justice” tried to paint Israel as the new Nazi, what Yaakov Kirschen in our NER interview: “Secret Codes Hidden War” called an example of Moral Inversion.
Note what Rutgers Senior Eric Kaplan noted this in an Op-Ed, “Fight anti-Semitic thought, speech” about the BAKA hate fest in the student newspaper The Targum;
Anti-Semitism is also present at the University. An upcoming event entitled "Never Again" promotes anti-Semitic attitudes under the guise of being anti-Israel. Criticism of Israel that is comparable to that leveled against other countries should be welcome. According the U.S. Department of State in a report addressing the rise of anti-Semitism to Congress, comparing the behavior of Israel to the Nazis is anti-Semitic, since it has no connection to reality.
I am not surprised this event is being sponsored by BAKA: Students United for Middle Eastern Justice, which has consistently lodged unfair criticism against Israel. Now, we can be sure that BAKA is indeed anti-Semitic and has no place in our civil discourse.
Here is what WorldNetDaily reported about the event, “Rutgers bars Jews from Anti-Zionist Event”:
Rutgers University campus police tonight (1/29) barred some 400 Jewish students and their supporters, including some Holocaust survivors, from attending what was billed as an anti-Zionist gathering at the state school tonight.
The student-sponsored event was announced with an open invitation campus-wide, and Rutgers policy is for all student activities to be open to the public.
However, when the sponsoring organizations of “Never Again for Anyone” saw they were outnumbered by Jewish students and their supporters by about 4-to-1, they asked campus policy to bar students wearing yamulkas – and eventually limited attendance to known supporters of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Americans for Muslims in Palestine and the Middle East Children’s Alliance.
Pleas to university officials from the Jewish students and their supporters for access to the event went unheeded. ”They started charging money as soon as they saw Zionists outside,” said Rabbi Akiva Weiss.
Rutgers campus police said they could not provide a statement as to why the public event would turn away 400 members of the public. One officer said they were called in late and weren’t really sure what was going on. When the Jewish students, led by Aaron Marcus, were denied entry, they gathered in the lobby and sang religious songs in Hebrew.
“We wanted to protest this event because as the children and grandchildren of victims of the Holocaust we believed it to be absolutely absurd to compare Israeli act of self defense to the vicious, systematic murder of millions of Jews, Catholics, Gays, Gypsies, Russians and others,” Marcus said.
Members of the New Jersey branch of Young Americans for Freedom were in attendance to protest the discrimination against Jewish students.
Fast forward to early June, 2010, when a event honoring Rutgers Hillel Students fighting Campus hatred was held in Livingston, New Jersey. Note this comments from a New Jersey Jewish Standard article about the event.
Rutgers University has found itself on the front lines of international anti-Israel efforts, as well as some visiting programs that can only be described as anti-Jewish, I was very proud of the Hillel student leadership and how they rose to the occasion to delegitimize the delegitimizers.
The contrast with the U.C. Irvine experience, that we have written about in the July NER “Does the Olive Tree initiative Lack Credibility?” is fairly dramatic. In the Rutgers case, the Hillel chapter joined forces with the local New Jersey Jewish community to combat hate on campus spewed by pro-Palestinian groups. By contrast in the U.C. Irvine case, both Hillel student leaders and the local Jewish Federation and Family Services, Inc (JFOC). have denied campus anti-Semitism, funded programs resulting in converting students to the Palestinian cause that facilitated meetings with Hamas and International Solidarity Movement leaders both on the West Bank and on campus. To make matters worse, both U.C. Irvine Hillel and JFOC leaders have resorted to slandering Jewish community activists for organizing events highlighting campus Antisemitism.
Gary Fouse, a U.C. Irvine adjunct instructor, in a recent post, “Rutgers – The Case for Community Involvement Against Anti-Semitism” on his blog, Fousesqwak notes the differences:
What the case of Rutgers illustrates is that there is an important role for the community-not just Jewish-but all good-minded people to answer the call. Is there a lesson for other schools? You bet there is.
In the case of my school (UC-Irvine), Hillel has responded by supporting positive events like I-Fest. In my view, however, that is not enough. Whether or not Jewish (or other) students want to actively challenge the organizations like the Muslim Student Association or Students for Justice in Palestine is a personal matter, and only the individual student can make that decision. The fact is that in most campus communities, there is a void left when it comes to challenging the above groups, their speakers and their often hateful messages.
That is where the community comes in. The case of Rutgers, as well as UCI in the past couple of years illustrates that community involvement can be effective. For one thing, lax university administrators who are afraid to speak out and condemn anti-Semitic hate speech (as opposed to hate speech directed at certain other groups) have to have their feet held to the fire and told that ALL hate speech is unacceptable-even if constitutionally protected free speech. Over the years at UCI many hateful statements have been made against Jews. Swastikas have been scrawled on bathroom stalls at other UC campuses like Berkeley.
It was only in 2010, when Amir Abdel Malik Ali told Jews in his audience that he supported Hamas, Hizbollah and Islamic Jihad and that "You Jews-You'all the new Nazis" that UCI chancellor Drake finally spoke out and condemned it-without mentioning the speaker, the quote, the event and the targeted group.
Even worse, Orange County community members who decided after the incident with the Israeli ambassador to the US in February 2010 that enough was enough and started to organize counter-protests on the UCI campus, were met by opposition from the local Hillel chapter and the OC Jewish Federation. If some students prefer to dialogue with their Muslim counterparts, that is their business. If others (students or community members) choose to actively challenge hateful speakers in a legal and non-disruptive manner, that is our business.