Jewish Groups Slam Activists’ call to Defund Rutgers Hillel

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Rutgers University (illustrative)

Dan Verbin

On Thursday, Rutgers’ University Hillel slammed a statement from pro-Palestinian groups that called for defunding Jewish organizations on campus.

The letter posted on Instagram by Rutgers’ Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Rutgers Mutual Aid (RMA) came in response to New Jersey rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) who had called in late June for university President Jonathan Holloway to condemn a statement made by the part-time lecturer chapter of the Rutgers faculty union accusing Israel of being a “regime of legalized racial discrimination perpetrated against the Palestinian people” that it targeted with “military actions” that have “killed and maimed civilian populations.”

The letter said, “We, the undersigned, categorically reject Rep. Gottheimer’s slanderous mischaracterization of the statement.”

It was signed by over a dozen campus and off-campus groups, including CUNY4Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace-Northern NJ.

It accused Gottheimer of ignoring “the two real threats to Jewish safety today: white supremacy and Zionism itself, which purposely ties all Jews to the Israeli regime and, by extension, its crimes.”

The statement said, “Considering Rutger’s own endowment investments in apartheid Israel, and prominent campus Zionist organizations such as Hillel,” it was calling on “President Holloway to publicly affirm the right of Rutgers faculty, students, and staff to voice their solidarity with Palestine and to make clear that the university rejects all attempts to falsely conflate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism” while also requesting Rutgers provide an explanation for why they turned down the “Endowment Justice Collective’s request for Rutgers University to divest from oppression and injustice and comply with an audit of endowment investments led by the Students for Justice in Palestine at Rutgers – New Brunswick.”

Rutgers Hillel denounced the letter on Thursday, reported the Algemeiner.

They thanked Gottheimer and Holloway for “the support… they have shown to Jewish students.”

“Campuses have become increasingly hostile to Jewish life amid the national surge in anti-Semitic hatred, and it is more critical than ever to ensure universities foster an inclusive environment where Jewish and pro-Israel students can live and learn without fear of harassment or abuse,” said Rutgers Hillel.

Jewish on Campus, a student advocacy group, also condemned the SJP and RMA letter, saying it was, “filled with anti-Semitic libels targeting Jewish students and institutions on campus.”

“By specifically targeting Hillel, an organization established to house and feed Jewish students who were otherwise lacking access to kosher food and dorms, Rutgers Mutual Aid and SJP have targeted individual Jews on campus and held them accountable for the actions of the Israeli government. This statement thus goes directly against a prior statement in the post alleging that Zionism forces ‘the tying of Jews to the Israeli regime, and by extension, its crimes,’” tweeted Jewish on Campus.

The New York and New Jersey chapter of the ADL said it was shocked by the letter, dubbing it “outrageous.”

“ADL is shocked by this outrageous statement suggesting that Rutgers blacklist and halt funding for Hillel, which represents Jewish life at Rutgers,” said the group in a statement. “This is simply wrong. ADL stands by our partners at Hillel who provide an essential space for Jews and Jewish ideas, and we call on all people of good will to do so as well.”