Rutgers University, the State University of New Jersey, is in the midst of a battle over BDS.
The Rutgers American Association of University Professors, and the Rutgers American Federation of Teachers (AAUP-AFT), approved a resolution, requesting, “be it resolved, that Rutgers AAUP-AFT expresses our solidarity with the Palestinian people and calls for Israel to end bombardment of Gaza and stop displacement at Sheikh Jarrah, Therefore, be it further resolved, that Rutgers AAUP-AFT calls on the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden to stop all aid funding human rights violations and an occupation that is illegal under international law.”
In May, the Executive Board of the Part-Time Lecturer Chapter of Rutgers AAUP-AFT expressed support with Palestinian trade unions which stated that “Israel’s settler mobs and occupation forces continue a campaign of violence and ethnic cleansing against Palestinians in Gaza, Sheikh Jarrah, Lydd and Haifa – Palestinian workers bare the brunt of this violence.” The petition listed over 130 names of faculty members supporting the Palestinians.
Worth noting that the charges against Israel are based on the Human Rights Watch (HRW) report published in April 2021, written by Omar Shakir. Shakir is the Israel and Palestine director of Human Rights Watch, who was deported from Israel in 2019 for making statements in support of the boycott of Israel. His report was based on the work of the Israeli human rights organization, B’Tselem, with 42 references to the B’Tselem website and the B’Tselem report, co-written by BGU Geography Prof. Oren Yiftachel in January 2021. As IAM reported in April, Yiftachel is a long-time political activist who understood since 2002 that if he wanted a successful academic career, he should accuse Israel of apartheid, as reported by the British Guardian newspaper in December 2002.
All the Rutgers petitioners ignore the fact that some Gazan academics are actively fighting against Israel. Earlier this month, Nasr Fahajan, a Gazan Professor of Islamic Studies, stated in public that once Palestine is liberated, not all Jews will be annihilated, as some will be allowed to escape abroad.
Another Gazan academic collaborated with Hamas. On May 12, 2021, when the IDF attacked a location in the western part of Gaza City where senior Hamas figures had gathered, fourteen Hamas operatives were killed. One of them was Dr. Jamal al-Zebda, who held a Ph.D. degree in mechanical engineering from Virginia Tech in the United States and was a senior lecturer at the Islamic University of Gaza engineering faculty. He had developed weapons for Hamas and headed the rocket development program.
Earlier this year, another Rutgers group, the Endowment Justice Collective, demanded that the “university divest from Israeli apartheid” and the “Israeli apartheid-supporting telecommunications company Motorola Solutions,” noting that Greg Brown, a member of Rutgers’ Board of Governors is the chairman and chief economic officer of Motorola.
Rutgers was involved in several anti-Semitic cases in the last decade, including in 2017, when Michael Chikindas, a professor in the food science department, reportedly posted dozens of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel comments on his Facebook page during several months, such as claiming that the Armenian genocide was orchestrated by Jews. After investigation, he was dismissed from teaching.
Anti-Semitic concerns prompted the administration of Rutgers to step in to denounce anti-Semitism. On May 26, 2021, Christopher J. Molloy, the Rutgers Chancellor, and Francine Conway, the Rutgers Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Research and Academic Affairs wrote a letter that was posted on the Rutgers website condemning anti-Semitism. However, they took it down after receiving complaints from Palestinians.
The group Students for Justice in Palestine at Rutgers University wrote a letter to the Chancellor and Provost opposing the fact that the statement exclusively addressed anti-Semitism while ignoring “the extent to which Palestinians have been brutalized by Israel’s occupation and bombing of Gaza.” That the Chancellor and Provost’s statement comes during “global protests and critiques against Israel’s occupation of Palestine.” That publishing the Chancellor and Provost’s statement is a “decision that cannot be separated from widespread attempts to conflate antizionism with antisemitism and derail Palestinian voices and activism. The statement released by Chancellor Molloy and Provost Conway thus cannot be interpreted as anything other than a deflection from Rutgers University’s role in financially supporting the Israeli state, and thus its human rights abuses and occupation of Palestine.”
Feeling the heat, the leadership of Rutgers produced an apology which was also taken down, then provided a final statement titled “On Hatred and Bigotry,” on May 29, 2021, stating that “Rutgers deplores hatred and bigotry in all forms. We have not, nor would we ever, apologize for standing against anti-Semitism. Neither hatred nor bigotry has a place at Rutgers, nor should they have a place anywhere in the world. At Rutgers we believe that anti-Semitism, anti-Hinduism, Islamophobia and all forms of racism, intolerance and xenophobia are unacceptable wherever and whenever they occur.”
At the same time, Jewish groups raise their concerns with the Rutgers University Board of Trustees, noting that “anti-Semitism at Rutgers from faculty is at very high, unacceptable levels.”
It looks pretty obvious that the battle in Rutgers will continue where Palestinian and pro-Palestinian faculty will justify Palestinian attacks on Israel while opposing measures against anti-Semitism on the Rutgers campuses.
PTLFC-AAUP-AFT Executive Board Statement in Solidarity with the Palestinian People
June 12, 2021
Whereas, over 1,500 Palestinians from neighborhoods in Jerusalem are facing the threat of forced displacement and home demolitions by Israeli authorities, and children make up a large percentage of the families threatened with homelessness,
Whereas, this pattern and practice of dispossession and expansion of settlements has been found to be illegal under international law,
Whereas, many reputable international human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch and the Israel-based B’tselem have designated these practices of Israel as “apartheid” and a regime of legalized racial discrimination perpetrated against the Palestinian people, and the International Criminal Court has opened an investigation into these practices,
Whereas, in response to Palestinian demonstrations against these illegal practices and the forcible displacement of families in Sheikh Jarrah, Israeli police attacked demonstrations in many instances, injuring hundreds, including a raid on the Al-Aqsa Mosque, a place of worship,
Whereas, since May 10 the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have begun an intense campaign of bombing and mortar fire on the territory of Gaza. At the time of writing, nearly 277 people, more than a quarter of them children, have been killed. Over 1,300 have been wounded, and 52,000 Gazans have lost their homes,
Whereas, as a Higher Ed union, we strongly support the right of our members to defend Palestinians since we are committed to the principles of academic freedom. We deplore the attacks on media offices that serve to threaten a free press,
Whereas, we also stand in solidarity with Palestinians participating in a general strike to demand their rights and condemn employers who retaliate against them,
Whereas, we stand in solidarity with Palestinians and their Jewish Israeli allies, understanding that their struggles are fundamentally entwined with many other movements for equality, justice, and liberation, both within the United States and around the world. We join together in rededicating ourselves to working against all forms of racism, colonialism, and injustice at Rutgers, in the classroom, on campus, and beyond,
Therefore, be it resolved, that Rutgers AAUP-AFT expresses our solidarity with the Palestinian people and calls for Israel to end bombardment of Gaza and stop displacement at Sheikh Jarrah,
Therefore, be it further resolved, that Rutgers AAUP-AFT calls on the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden to stop all aid funding human rights violations and an occupation that is illegal under international law.
Executive Council Resolution in Solidarity with Palestine
May 28, 2021
In response to the urgent call from Palestinian trade unions, we, the undersigned members of the Executive Board of the Part-Time Lecturer Chapter of Rutgers AAUP-AFT (Local 6324), call on the American Federation of Teachers to divest itself of all Israeli bonds and for the United States government to cease all financial support to Israel at once.
As teachers and union members, we can no longer allow ourselves to be complicit in the illegal acts of the Israeli government that have driven Palestinians from their homes or with military actions that have targeted, killed and maimed civilian populations of Gaza and the occupied West Bank, and that have destroyed vital infrastructure, including schools and hospitals.
We support the position of Trade Union Action for Justice in Palestine and international human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch and the Israel-based B’Tselem, who have designated these practices of Israel as “apartheid” and a regime of legalized racial discrimination perpetrated against the Palestinian people. We note that the International Criminal Court has opened an investigation into these practices.
We join with the Executive Council of our sister union, Rutgers AAUP-AFT (representing full-time faculty and grad employees), to condemn these crimes in the strongest possible terms, and we urge others in the global labor movement for freedom, justice, dignity, and equality to similarly answer the call made by Palestinian trade unions and workers’ organizations.
Ann Ilan Alter, Representative, New Brunswick
Frank Bridges, Representative, New Brunswick
Bruce Garrity, Representative, Camden
Roseli Golfetti, Newark Vice President
Amy Higer, President
Kevin Keogan, Representative, Newark
David Letwin, Representative, New Brunswick
James Robinson, Representative, New Brunswick
Bryan Sacks, Treasurer
Dan Sidorick, Representative, New Brunswick
Howie Swerdloff, Secretary
Karen Thompson, Representative, New Brunswick
Click here to read and sign the Rutgers University Faculty Stand in Solidarity with the Palestinian People statement.
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Rutgers University Faculty Stand in Solidarity with the Palestinian PeopleWe stand in Solidarity with the Palestinian People
Rutgers University faculty condemn Israel’s military assault against the Palestinian people across all Palestinian geographies. We join and welcome the endorsement of all colleagues committed to combatting racism, colonialism, and settler colonialism.
A ceasefire does not end the colonial conditions of structural violence and inequality that Palestinians live under. The fifteen year siege of and systemic war on Gaza are part of a long-standing effort to isolate, dehumanize, and punish Palestinians for resisting decades of occupation and what UN ESCWA, Human Rights Watch and the Israeli human rights organization B’tselem, have called an Israeli Apartheid regime.
The forced displacement of Palestinian families from occupied East Jerusalem, including Sheikh Jarrah, takes legal, bureaucratic, and military forms. Zionist settler colonial expansion marks Palestinian homes and neighborhoods for removal, destruction, and replacement while military and settler infrastructure limits Palestinian mobility and segregates them into Bantustans. Critical resources such as water and land are expropriated by the Israeli state. These tactics are part of a broader effort to deny the possibility of Palestinian self-determination in Palestine.
The Palestinian rights to freedom, security in their homes, to return, self-determination, and to be free of violent occupation are well established under international law. The language of both-sidedness, of timeless or religious ‘conflict’ with moments of ‘escalation’ erases the military, economic, media, and diplomatic power that Israel, as an occupying force has over Palestine. While we mourn the loss of civilian life in Israel, we also refuse to engage narratives that demand an ‘equal sides’ approach to a fundamentally unequal reality.
The demand to center Israel’s right to ‘self-defense’ erases the colonial context and delegitimizes the Palestinian right to resistance and to self-defense, both principles enshrined in international law. It also neglects non-violent tactics and campaigns, such as BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions), and civil disobedience that Palestinians have used for decades to dismantle the system around them. We stand in solidarity with a growing chorus of voices in the US media, in universities, activists and social movements, and with progressive political leaders in the US government. With them, we demand an end to US’ long-standing military, economic, and diplomatic support for unchecked Israeli anti-Palestinian violence.
We are in awe of the Palestinian struggle to resist violent occupation, removal, erasure, and the expansion of Israeli settler colonialism. As faculty at an institution committed to the principles of social justice and academic excellence, particularly those of us who study and teach about the Middle East or Racism, we endorse the Palestine and Praxis call to action. We affirm our own commitments to speaking out in defense of the rights and dignity of the Palestinian people as well as foundational principles of scholarly integrity and academic freedom. We recognize our role and responsibility as scholars to theorize, read, teach and write about the very issues unfolding in Palestine. Not doing so means we fail to provide our undergraduate and graduate students, including Palestinian and Israeli students, with the critical tools and information they need to understand and engage the subjects of Palestine and Israel, colonialism, US empire, and anti-racism. Those who do not study these issues can be involved in study groups, teach-ins, and other such educational activities as faculty and students were during other moments of international protest and solidarity, like protests against the Vietnam War and Apartheid South Africa.
Therefore, we stand in solidarity with Palestinians and their Jewish as well as non-Jewish allies around the world, understanding that their struggle is inseparable from other movements for equality, justice and liberation both within the United States and globally. We join together in rededicating ourselves to working against all forms of racism, imperialism, colonialism, settler colonialism and injustice at Rutgers, in the classroom, on campus, and beyond.
Asher Ghertner, Geography Laura Schneider, Geography Mary Rizzo, History Asli Zengin, Women’s and Gender Studies Jawid Mojaddedi, Religion Yesenia Barragan, History Mark Bray, History Marisa J. Fuentes, History and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Judith Surkis, History Elaine LaFay, History James Livingston, History Jackson Lears, History Belinda Davis, History Xun Liu, History Sean T. Mitchell, Sociology and Anthropology Arthur B. Powell, Urban Education Camilla Townsend, History Barbara Foley, English Donna Murch, History Tamara Sears, Art History Salam Al Kuntar, Classics Popy Begum, School of Criminal Justice Aldo Lauria Santiago, History, Latino and Caribbean Studies Kenneth Sebastián León, Latino and Caribbean Studies Kevon Rhiney, Geography Hanan Kashou, African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian Languages and Literatures Samah Selim, African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian Languages and Literatures Atiya Aftab, Middle Eastern Studies Karishma Desai, Education Carlos Ulises Decena, Latino and Caribbean Studies Jon Cowans, History Jamie Pietruska, History Charles Payne, African and African American Studies Radhika Balakrishnan, Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Nelson Maldonado-Torres, Latino and Caribbean Studies, and Program in Comparative Literature Zakia Salime, WGSS & Sociology Ousseina D. Alidou, African, Middle Eastern, South Asian Languages and Literatures Akissi Britton, Africana Studies Zeynep Gürsel, Anthropology Amir Moosavi, English Becky Schulthies, Anthropology Ethel Brooks, Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Alamin Mazrui, African, Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Literatures Kyla Schuller, Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Tim Raphael, Arts, Culture and Media Nate Gabriel, Geography Jasbir Puar, Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Michael Adas, History Carter Mathes, English John Keene, English/AAAS Evie Shockley, English Sarada Balagopalan, Childhood Studies Kate Cairns, Childhood Studies Erica R. Edwards, English Stéphane Robolin, Literatures in English Anjali Nerlekar, African, Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Literatures (AMESALL) Lauren Silver, Childhood Studies Andrea Marston, Geography Preetha Mani, African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian Languages and Literatures Charles I. Auffant, Law Jamal Ali, AMESALL Shaheen Parveen, AMESALL Belinda Edmondson, English/AAAS Beth Rubin, Education Edwin Bryant, Religion David D. Troutt, Law Todd Wolfson, Journalism and Media Studies Zaire Dinzey-Flores, Latino & Caribbean Studies David Lopez, Law Trinidad Rico, Art History Krista White, Rutgers Libraries Diane Fruchtman, Religion Dennis C. Prieto, Law Mark Krasovic, History Debra Scoggins Ballentine, Religion Itzel Corona Aguilar, Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Kayo Denda, Rutgers U. Libraries – NB Meredeth Turshen, Bloustein School Sara Perryman, Writing Program, English Chrystin Ondersma, Law Mich Ling, WGSS Adnan Zulfiqar, Law Jillian Salazar, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Brittney Cooper, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies/Africana Studies Chenjerai Kumanyika, Rutgers Department of Journalism and Media Studies Hamid Abdeljaber, CMES Carolyn A. Brown, History Karen Caplan, History Shantee Rosado, Africana Studies and Latino and Caribbean Studies Thayane Brêtas, Global Urban Studies Andrew Goldstone, English Melissa De Fino, Rutgers University Libraries Troy Shinbrot, Biomedical Engineering James Brown, English and Communications Lilia Fernandez, Latino and Caribbean Studies Julien Corbo, Neurosciences Rebecca Kunkel, Law Library Jeffrey Dowd, Sociology Ana Pairet, French O. Batuhan Erkat, Neuroscience Hussein Khdour, Neuroscience Paul Boxer, Psychology Rob Scott, Anthropology Fernanda Perrone, Rutgers University Libraries Audrey Truschke, History Toby C. Jones, History Maya Mikdashi, Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Noura Erakat, Africana Studies and Criminal Justice Deepa Kumar, Journalism and Media Studies Zahra Ali, Sociology and Anthropology Yasmine Khayyat, African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian Languages and Literatures Omar Dewachi, Anthropology Melissa M. Valle, Sociology and Anthropology & African American and African Studies Sahar Aziz, Law Johan Mathew, History Christien Tompkins, Anthropology Mayte Green-Mercado, History Nukhet Varlik, History Nermin Allam, Political Science Sylvia Chan Malik, American Studies Domingo Morel, Political Science Leyla Amzi-Erdogdular, History Sadia Abbas, English Laura Lomas, American Studies Manu Samriti Chander, English Wendell Hassan Marsh, African American Studies and African Studies Charles G. Häberl, African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian Languages and Literatures, and Religion Kathleen C. Riley, Anthropology Asli Zengin, Women’s and Gender Studies Paul O’Keefe, Geography Lyra Monteiro, History David Fogelsong, History Ousseina Alidou, African, Middle Eastern, South Asian Languages and Literatures Bridget Purcell, Anthropology Alison Howell, Political Science Antonio Y. Vázquez-Arroyo, Political Science Gabriela Kuetting, Political Science Carlos Ulises Decana, Latino Studies, Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Atif Akin, Art & Design Meril Antony , Public Administration Genese Sodikoff, Sociology and Anthropology Karen Caplan, History Shantee Rosado, Africana Studies and Latino and Caribbean Studies Thayane Brêtas, Global Urban Studies David Hughes, Anthropology Meril Antony, Public Administration Icnelia Huerta Ocampo, CMBN Dana Luciano, English, Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Elizabeth Surles, Rutgers Libraries, Institute of Jazz Studies David Winters, Journalism and Media Studies Mukti Mangharam, English Terry Matilsky, Physics and Astronomy Sara Elnakib, Family and Community Health Services Meheli Sen, African, Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Literatures David Kurnick, English Jawad Irshad, OIT Beyza Guven, Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Andrew T. Urban, American Studies and History JB Brager, Douglass College Howard Swerdloff, English Juan Lazaga, History Benjamin Koerber, African, Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Literatures Janice Fine, School of Management and Labor Relations Hebtalla Elkhateeb, English Dan Battey, Education James WJ Robinson, School of Management and Labor Relations James Jones, African American and African Studies Parvis Ghassen-Fachandi, Socio-Cultural Anthropology Saladin Ambar, Political Science Karen Thompson, English Timothy Eatman, Urban Studies Lina Saud, Psychology Frank Edwards, School of Criminal Justice Julia Bowling, School of Criminal Justice Andres Rengifo, School of Criminal Justice Bryan Sacks, Journalism and Media Studies David Letwin, Rutgers Arts Online Jody Miller, School of Criminal Justice Joel Miller, School of Criminal Justice Englebert Santana, Honors Learning and Living Community Sununda Gaur, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School Nikol Alexander-Floyd, Political Science Sandra Russell Jones, History and Religions Caroline Key, Digital Filmmaking Deniz Turker, Art History Park McArthur, Art and Design Laurent Reyes, Social Work
Research | Culture | Analysis
Palestinian Trade Unions call for immediate and urgent action from international Trade Unions
Palestinian trade unions and workers’ organisations across historic Palestine are calling on our brothers and sisters in the global trade union movement to take immediate action in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom and justice.
May 22, 2021
Call to action
As Israel’s settler mobs and occupation forces continue a campaign of violence and ethnic cleansing against Palestinians in Gaza, Sheikh Jarrah, Lydd and Haifa – Palestinian workers bare the brunt of this violence and we are at the forefront of the struggle for our liberation.
This week, Palestinian activists and trade unions held a General Strike across historic Palestine. This is the first strike in recent history to bring together Palestinians no matter where we are located.
In order to achieve our liberation, however, we require the solidarity of our comrades and friends in the trade union movement internationally. As Israel escalates its attacks and brutality we need this solidarity more than ever, and we need it urgently in order to restrain Israel’s war machine from continuing its massacres even further.
We call on you to stand with us, to speak out, to take action. As trade unions internationally we have a proud tradition of standing up against oppression. We have the power to halt support for racist regimes. The global trade union movement has always played a key and inspiring role in its courageous commitment to human rights and adoption of concrete, ground-breaking, labor-led sanctions against oppressive regimes. The trade union boycott of apartheid South Africa stands out as a bright example of this tradition of effective solidarity.
In the spirit of internationalism and solidarity, we are calling on trade unions to:
issue clear public statements of solidarity with the Palestinian people, and express support for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel to bring it inline with its obligations under international law.
Participate in future general strikes called by Palestinian popular organisations and trade unions by holding protests and vigils on these dates.
Take immediate and concrete steps to ensure that unions themselves are not complicit in supporting and sustaining Israeli oppression, e.g. by divesting pension funds from firms complicit in the Israeli occupation, encouraging workers to refuse to handle Israeli goods and/or supporting members refusing to build Israeli weapons.
Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, Gaza
General Union of Palestinian Women
Professional Associations Federation including:
Palestine Dental Association
Palestinian Bar Association
Palestine Doctors Association
Palestinian Pharmacists Syndicate
Agricultural Engineers Association
General Union of Health Service Workers
General Union of Agricultural and Food Industries Workers
General Union of Service and Private Business Workers
General Union of Construction Workers
General Union of Textile and Garment Workers
Syndicate of Workers in Popular and Civil Organisations
Palestine New Federation of Trade Unions
General Federation of Independent Trade Unions
Trade Union Action for Justice in Palestine: sample motion, graphics and more
Workers in Palestine
The Citizens’ Press is a network of non-sectarian socialist student, labour and community organizers based in Canada.
Speaking Out Against Acts of Anti-Semitism
“Hate against one is hate against all.”
The Miller Center for Community Protection and Resilience supports and echoes the below statement of Rutgers University-New Brunswick leadership, which condemned recent acts of hate and prejudice directed against Jewish members of our community. The Miller Center condemns all acts of hate and prejudice against targeted and oppressed groups on our campus, in our state, in our country, and abroad.
Dear Rutgers–New Brunswick Community,
We are saddened by and greatly concerned about the sharp rise in hostile sentiments and anti-Semitic violence in the United States. Recent incidents of hate directed toward Jewish members of our community again remind us of what history has to teach us. Tragically, in the last century alone, acts of prejudice and hatred left unaddressed have served as the foundation for many atrocities against targeted groups around the world.
Last year’s murder of George Floyd brought into sharp focus the racial injustices that continue to plague our country, and over the past year there has been attacks on our Asian American Pacific Islander citizens, the spaces of Indigenous peoples defiled, and targeted oppression and other assaults against Hindus and Muslims.
Although it has been nearly two decades since the U.S. Congress approved the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act, the upward trend of anti-Semitism continues. We have also been witnesses to the increasing violence between Israeli forces and Hamas in the Middle East leading to the deaths of children and adults and mass displacement of citizens in the Gaza region and the loss of lives in Israel.
At a time when the ravages of the pandemic and the proliferation of global conflict are leading to death, destruction, and ethnic strife, the university stands as a beacon of hope for our community. We have the opportunity amidst the turmoil to serve as a model for institutions that respect and value the dignity of every human being.
This recent resurgence of anti-Semitism demands that we again call out and denounce acts of hate and prejudice against members of the Jewish community and any other targeted and oppressed groups on our campus and in our community.
Our commitment to creating a safe learning environment that is inclusive of difference requires that we hold ourselves and each other accountable for our behaviors.
- We call out all forms of bigotry, prejudice, discrimination, xenophobia, and oppression, in whatever ways they may be expressed.
- We condemn any vile acts of hate against members of our community designed to generate fear, devalue, demonize, or dehumanize.
- We embrace and affirm the value and dignity of each member of our Rutgers community regardless of religion, race, ethnic background, sexual orientation, gender, and ability.
If you have been adversely impacted by anti-Semitic or any other discriminatory incidents in our community, please do not hesitate to reach out to our counseling and other support services on campus. Our behavioral health team stands ready to support you through these challenging times. In addition, our Student Affairs Office is already working in close partnership with leaders of the Rutgers Jewish community, and meetings have been held with students to assess and respond to their needs. If you are aware of hate incidents on campuses or places that have been made unsafe due to expressed bigotry and other unacceptable and insensitive acts, please report them using the bias reporting system.
Although we face many challenges and may have differing perspectives, we must condemn acts of violence and all forms of bigotry. We will continually strive to realize the aspiration embodied in President Holloway’s articulation of a vision for Rutgers as a ‘beloved community’—a community where we welcome and affirm humanity and find strength in our diversity.
Christopher J. Molloy
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Research and Academic Affairs
Dear Members of the Rutgers–New Brunswick Community,
We are writing today as a follow-up to the message sent on Wednesday, May 26th to the university community. We understand that intent and impact are two different things, and while the intent of our message was to affirm that Rutgers–New Brunswick is a place where all identities can feel validated and supported, the impact of the message fell short of that intention. In hindsight, it is clear to us that the message failed to communicate support for our Palestinian community members. We sincerely apologize for the hurt that this message has caused.
Rutgers University–New Brunswick is a community that is enriched by our vibrant diversity. However, our diversity must be supported by equity, inclusion, antiracism, and the condemnation of all forms of bigotry and hatred, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. As we grow in our personal and intuitional understanding, we will take the lesson learned here to heart, and pledge our commitment to doing better. We will work to regain your trust, and make sure that our communications going forward are much more sensitive and balanced.
Our goal of creating a beloved community will not be easy, and while we may make mistakes along the way; we hope we can all learn from them as we continue this vital work together.
Christopher J. Molloy
Chancellor, Rutgers University–New Brunswick
On Hatred and Bigotry
May 29, 2021
Rutgers deplores hatred and bigotry in all forms. We have not, nor would we ever, apologize for standing against anti-Semitism.
Neither hatred nor bigotry has a place at Rutgers, nor should they have a place anywhere in the world. At Rutgers we believe that anti-Semitism, anti-Hinduism, Islamophobia and all forms of racism, intolerance and xenophobia are unacceptable wherever and whenever they occur.
President and University Professor
Response to Chancellor Molloy’s Recent Statement Excluding Palestinian Distress in “Racial Injustice” And Acknowledgment of Anti-Semitism
On behalf of the Students for Justice in Palestine at Rutgers University, New Brunswick campus:
We are deeply concerned by the statement released from the desks of Chancellor Christopher Molloy and Provost Francine Conway yesterday evening. The Chancellor and Provost’s statement exclusively addressing antisemitism comes during a time when Israel’s occupation of Palestine is finally receiving widespread criticism, and despite mentioning the “deaths of children and adults and mass displacement of citizens in the Gaza region,” conveniently ignores the extent to which Palestinians have been brutalized by Israel’s occupation and bombing of Gaza.
Since the already addressed antisemitic attack on the Alpha Epsilon Pi house during Yom HaShoah, which occurred prior to global attention on the ongoing forced displacement of Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah, there have been no publicly reported acts of antisemitism against members of the Rutgers community as the Chancellor and Provost claim. This statement from the Chancellor and Provost is then unprecedented, and the fact that it comes at such a critical time involving global protests and critiques against Israel’s occupation of Palestine is a decision that cannot be separated from widespread attempts to conflate antizionism with antisemitism and derail Palestinian voices and activism. The statement released by Chancellor Molloy and Provost Conway thus cannot be interpreted as anything other than a deflection from Rutgers University’s role in financially supporting the Israeli state, and thus its human rights abuses and occupation of Palestine, by direct or indirect means.
Chancellor Molloy and Provost Conway proceed to refer to “increasing violence between Israeli forces and Hamas in the Middle East.” By choosing to center the crossfire between Israeli Occupation Forces and Hamas, rather than Israel’s ongoing occupation of Palestine, the Chancellor and Provost minimize the impact of settler-colonialism on Palestinians and attempt to portray the violence as an equal conflict, which we know it not to be in the slightest.
In addition, we have deep concerns about the Chancellor and Provost’s decision to lump the murder of George Floyd and attacks against the AAPI community, Indigenous persons, Hindus, and Muslims. By attempting to combine each of these significant issues for the purpose of making a blanket statement decreeing that “racism is bad,” Chancellor Molloy and Provost Conway trivialize these issues and the experiences of their students who are impacted by them on a consistent basis.
Most importantly, the Chancellor and Provost notably neglected to use the words “Palestine” or “Palestinian” in their statement, instead opting to use phrases such as “the Middle East” and “the Gaza region.” This refusal to acknowledge and affirm the existence of Palestine, and thus the Palestinian faculty and students at Rutgers University, reveals the administration’s inability to stand in genuine solidarity with the Palestinian members of its University, a community that is grieving the death of over 200 Palestinians including many women and children. It isolates them and shows that Rutgers does not stand with or support them in their struggle for freedom and liberation, and contributes to the racist efforts of zionists to erase Palestinian identity and existence. If the Chancellor and Provost were truly committed to creating “a safe learning environment that is inclusive of difference” as claimed in their statement, they would stand in active support of the Rutgers New Brunswick Palestinian population as well as its Jewish population, instead of regurgitating empty platitudes via email every few months.
We therefore demand an apology from Chancellor Molloy and Provost Conway for dismissing the voices and visibility of Palestinians and allies, as well as demand an acknowledgement and explanation of why they did so. We demand that the Rutgers administration call out and expose any and all ties to Israeli apartheid and commit to action that reflects a global call to uplift the humanity of Palestinians, to recognize their violent displacement by the state of Israel, and acknowledge the gross mass murders occurrings at the hands of the Israeli Defense Forces, adjacent to the American police violence condemned by the University.
The Students for Justice in Palestine Team
Rutgers’ Statements on Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Derided by Local Leaders on Both Sides By CHUCK O’DONNELL Published May 31, 2021 at 7:31 PM Last UpdatedMay 31, 2021 at 7:31 PM
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – A 62-word statement from the Rutgers president attempted to re-enforce the university’s stance against hatred and bigotry, while seemingly seeking to defuse a potential political powder keg.
Instead, local leaders who stand on opposing sides of the Israel-Palestinian conflict are united in their disappointment in Jonathan Holloway’s comments and other comments made by Rutgers administrators last week.
On one side, leaders at the Chabad House – a center for Jewish life at Rutgers for 43 years – provided TAPinto New Brunswick with a statement in which they demand that the university respond to recent acts of campus anti-Semitism with “a clear and unambiguous statement of condemnation.” They are also seeking a sit-down discussion with the school’s leaders.
On the other side, the co-chair of the Central Jersey Democratic Socialists of America – which helped organize the May 22 March for Palestine in New Brunswick – told TAPinto New Brunswick that she is disappointed that the school didn’t take a public stance against Israel while its military was “literally murdering people in Gaza” before last week’s ceasefire.
A ceasefire was declared on May 21 after 11 days of fighting, with Hamas firing long-range rockets at Israeli cities and Israel retaliating with airstrikes that targeted buildings in Gaza, according to a USA Today report.
The gunfire and bloodshed from the Middle East may have ceased for now, but their ramifications were felt right here at Rutgers last week.
On May 26, Rutgers-New Brunswick Chancellor Christopher Molloy and Provost Francine Conway issued a statement on the school’s website condemning the nationwide spate of anti-Semitic incidents, including the one at Rutgers where the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity house was vandalized as its members observed Yom HaShoah, Holocaust remembrance day.
The statement referenced George Floyd’s murder, attacks on Asians and other groups and even touched on the fighting between Israel and Hamas by acknowledging the “deaths of children and adults and mass displacement of citizens in the Gaza region and the loss of lives in Israel.”
The statement did not contain the words “Palestine” and “Palestinian,” the Students for Justice in Palestine pointed out. According to a letter released by the New Brunswick group on May 27, the omission was proof “that Rutgers does not stand with or support them in their struggle for freedom and liberation, and contributes to the racist efforts of zionists to erase Palestinian identity and existence.”
On May 28, a response from Conway and Molloy titled “An Apology” was posted on Rutgers’ website.
“In hindsight, it is clear to us that the message failed to communicate support for our Palestinian community members. We sincerely apologize for the hurt that this message has caused,” according to the statement.
The next day, that statement was removed and replaced by one from Holloway.
“Rutgers deplores hatred and bigotry in all forms. We have not, nor would we ever, apologize for standing against anti-Semitism.
Neither hatred nor bigotry has a place at Rutgers, nor should they have a place anywhere in the world. At Rutgers we believe that anti-Semitism, anti-Hinduism, Islamophobia and all forms of racism, intolerance and xenophobia are unacceptable wherever and whenever they occur.”
The statement has served as a source of irritation for local leaders on both sides.
The leaders at the Chabad House have issued an invitation to the school’s administration to meet and “discuss the future of Jewish life on Rutgers campuses, with responsible Jewish leadership.”
According to the statement, “These meetings may discuss implementing a task force that can identify negative campus issues, and possible remedies.”
The Students for Justice in Palestine have launched an online petition titled, “Tell the Rutgers Administration: Take Accountability.” According to the petition, Molloy and Conway’s apology “persists on the nonnecessity of actually supporting Palestinian students, faculty and allies as we grieve, organize, and resist the Zionist occupation of Palestine.”
Ayesha Mughal, the co-chair for the Central Jersey Democratic Socialists of America, renewed the oft-repeated call for Rutgers to divest itself of financial partnerships with Israeli companies and other companies that make weapons or other materials that are used against Palestinians.
In February, Rutgers University Endowment Justice Collective submitted a letter to the Joint Committee on Investments to urge the university to divest from companies that were, among other things, ecologically unfriendly, exploiting workers and “perpetrating an apartheid system against the Palestinian people” via their involvement in the military-industrial complex. Among those companies singled out was Motorola Solutions.
Greg Brown, the longtime chairman and chief economic officer at Motorola, is a member of Rutgers’ Board of Governors.
Gottheimer wades into fight with Rutgers part-time lecturers’ union over Israel-Palestine conflict
By Nikita Biryukov, June 29 2021 3:01 pm
Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff) waded into a fight over Rutgers University’s part-time lecturers’ union call for the school to divest from Israeli bonds over the nation’s treatment of Palestinians Tuesday.
“To be sure, Rutgers’ part-time lecturers are entitled to hold their own opinions, even those which may be disagreeable. However, it is important to recognize that invective which singles out, disparages, delegitimizes, or demonizes Israel can and in many cases does fall outside of bounds,” Gottheimer said in a letter to university President Jonathan Holloway.
PTLFC-AAUP-AFT Local 6324, the part-time lecturers’ union, earlier this month called on the university to pull its money out of Israeli bonds over Israeli settlements in Gaza and the West Bank considered illegal by the international community and the United Nations.
They also took issue with other alleged human rights abuses.
“As teachers and union members, we can no longer allow ourselves to be complicit in the illegal acts of the Israeli government that have driven Palestinians from their homes or with military actions that have targeted, killed and maimed civilian populations of Gaza and the occupied West Bank, and that have destroyed vital infrastructure, including schools and hospitals,” the union said earlier this month.
Israel and Palestinian groups rekindled a long-standing conflict earlier this year that saw the two exchange volleys of artillery and rocket fire, killing at least 256 in Palestine and 13 in Israel and injuring more than 2,000 others.
The fighting paused when the two sides reached a ceasefire in late May, but the fighting resumed earlier this month after Hamas, the ruling militant organization in Gaza, launched incendiary balloons into Israel.
“Considering recent events, it is important to send a clear message that all Rutgers students and community members, including those who identify as being Jewish or pro-Israel, will not be singled out, penalized, or made to feel unwelcome at our state’s flagship university,” Gottheimer said in the letter. “I would ask you to please speak out clearly and quickly against this hate-filled misinformation campaign and rhetoric.”
The congressman did not say which portions of the union’s statement were inaccurate.
The part-time lecturers’ union’s call for divestment follows a similar call from the broader Rutgers faculty union, which in May called for President Joe Biden to stop all aid to Israel over the alleged human rights violations.
PLEASE CONSIDER SENDING THIS LETTER TO RUTGERS UNIVERSITY BOARD OF TRUSTEES –ANTI-SEMITISM AT RUTGERS FROM FACULTY IS AT VERY HIGH, UNACCEPTABLE LEVELS.
Dear Chancellor Conway and Rutgers Board members:
Last month, the Rutgers AAUP-AFT union and PTLFC-AAUP-AFT union — representing full- and part-time lecturers at the university — accused Israel of “apartheid” and called for the AFT union to boycott Israel. Their statements made other false, anti-semitic and inflammatory claims about the tiny state of Israel including that there is “legalized racial discrimination” in Israel.
These claims are not only false, but also anti-semitic in nature. These faculty members — who are tasked with teaching young people the facts of history, geography, and the world — do not recognize any right for Jewish self-determination. They also accuse the tiny Jewish population in the world of committing crimes that Jews have never committed while repeating age-old anti-semitic blood libels against the tiny Jewish nation.
To make matters worse, in late May of 2021, the chancellor of Rutgers University-New Brunswick, Christopher J. Molloy, released a statement condemning antisemitism. The next day, the school’s Students for Justice in Palestine group released a lengthy statement condemning the chancellor’s statement. After this protest from SJP, a radical anti-semitic group, Chancellor Molloy released a second statement apologizing for the first, and promising to “make sure that our communications going forward are much more sensitive and balanced.”
This second letter of apology to the anti-Israel community was a slap in the face to Jewish and Israeli students, as well as the entire Rutgers community.
Clearly there are several very concerning events going on here that need to be addressed. I am writing to ask you:
1. Why did you apologize for condemning anti-semitism in your original statement?2. Why do you persist in hiring anti-semitic zealots who do not recognize the ability for Jews to have self-determination in our indeginous and historic land?3. What is your position on the ability for Jewish students and faculty to participate at Rutgers?4. Will you communicate that position to the anti-semitic AAUP-AFT and PTLFC-AAUP-AFT unions?5. If you support the ability for Jewish, Israeli and pro-Israel students to attend Rutgers without being harassed, what steps will you be taking to ensure
their safety in the upcoming academic year and beyond?
These are important considerations for Jewish and Israeli students, families and community members. Thank you.
[SIGN YOUR NAME]
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Gaza Professor Of Islamic Studies Nasr Fahajan: When Palestine Is Liberated, The Jews Will Not Be Annihilated; Some Will Be Allowed To Escape Abroad
#8970 | 02:07
Source: Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas/Gaza)
Palestinian professor of Islamic studies Nasr Fahajan said that according to the Quran, Allah will “show His mercy” to the Jews by allowing some of them to escape when Israel is destroyed and Palestine is liberated. He made his remarks on a show that aired on Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas – Gaza) on July 2, 2021. Fahajan said that Allah will not completely annihilate the Jews. He went on to describe the events heralding Judgment Day, when 70,000 Jews will accompany the Antichrist to Palestine, where Jesus will kill him at the eastern gates of Lod.
Nasr Fahajan: “We will liberate Palestine, Israel will be destroyed, and we will establish the Islamic state. The Caliphate will be established in Jerusalem. Israel will be destroyed, and we will establish [the Islamic] state, Allah willing. This is our right, and there is a lot of evidence to support it. The Day of Judgment will arrive after Palestine is liberated, and after the Islamic state is established, with Jerusalem as its capital.
“How is Allah going to show mercy to them? By allowing them to escape. The state [of Israel] will be destroyed, but there will be no annihilation of the Jews. So what will happen to them? The same thing that happens in wars. Some of them will be killed, some will be taken captive, and others will escape. But [as it says in the Quran:] ‘Your Lord may show mercy to you,’ This mercy will be manifest by avoiding their complete annihilation.
“The liberation of Palestine may take place a lot sooner than we think, a lot sooner than anyone thinks. This will happen in the very near future. Afterwards, [the Quran says:] ‘If you return, We will return.’ This means that if [the Jews] sow corruption again, we will punish and annihilate them again. [The Jews] will return with the Antichrist. The Antichrist will set out from Isfahan, accompanied by 70,000 angels… sorry, Jews.
Interviewer: “From among the Jews of Isfahan.”
Nasr Fahajan: “Yes. They will go to Palestine, because the Islamic state will be there. Jesus will fight the Antichrist and his soldiers, and he will kill the Antichrist at the eastern gate of Lod. As a military power, the Jews renamed the airport there: ‘Ben Gurion Airport.’ But no. It is the Lydia Airport. Maybe the Antichrist and his Jewish followers will try to flee in airplanes.”
US citizen working for Hamas killed in Israeli air strike
Osama al-Zebda, 33, was born in the U.S. while his father, Jamal al-Zebda, 64, studied at the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science at Virginia Tech, according to the Hamas source. Osama lived in the U.S. for five years, his wife told ABC News. The father and son moved back to Gaza after living for a few years in the United Arab Emirates.
“We are aware of reports of a U.S. citizen killed in Gaza,” a U.S. State Department spokesperson told ABC News. “Due to privacy considerations, we have no further comment.”
The news was first reported by Joe Truzman of FDD’s Long War Journal on Sunday, adding that Osama al-Zebda had been on a U.S. terror watch list. The State Department did not respond to ABC’s request for comment on whether or not that was the case.
Both were killed in an Israeli airstrike during the military’s Operation Guardian of the Walls, launched in response to Hamas rockets fired from Gaza earlier this month which saw 253 Palestinians killed — including 66 children — over 11 days of airstrikes and shelling, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
During that period, over 4,500 rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza, killing 13 and injuring 100s more.
The elder al-Zebda returned to Gaza in 1994 to help the armed wing of Hamas develop its arsenal of rockets. Jamal al-Zebda was the head of the department in the non-military wing of Hamas which develops their rockets and his son, Osama, served as a more junior engineer. Neither were active fighters, the Hamas source said.
The Palestinian Information Center (PIC), a Hamas-affiliated website, said Jamal had joined the al-Qassam Brigades in 2006 and played an instrumental role in introducing more powerful warheads, using basic materials drawn locally from the narrow enclave of Gaza, which is trapped by an Israeli-Egyptian blockade. The PIC said Hamas’ improved weapons arsenal was evident in the recent conflict and that Jamal had survived an Israeli assassination attempt in 2012, though they did not offer any details.
A senior Israeli military official told ABC News that Jamal al-Zebda has technological training and served as a source of knowledge at the organization’s production center. As a senior member of Hamas’ research and development division, the official said he has promoted key projects in the organization’s intensification of weapons developments, “developed and intended to harm Israeli citizens.”
“My husband, who is of American nationality, knew that the shortest way to God is to sacrifice his spirit, mind, time and money for the sake of him and his religion, so he preferred it over any other thing,” Osama’s wife, Yosra Aklouk, 29, wrote on the Facebook profile of her deceased husband.
Aklouk told ABC News that she was unsure of his exact role in Hamas, and that her husband was a “genius engineer” and she was “proud” of him.
“I’m shocked by what happened,” she said. “It was hard to go back home but I’m consoled by visits from the hundreds of people who are helping me.”
Osama’s father, Jamal, was an important target for Israel due to his scientific expertise, Wasef Eriqat, a Palestinian military expert and analyst, told ABC News.
“Jamal al-Zebda is credited with guiding and training an entire generation of engineers at the Islamic University who were up to the task of facing up to Israeli scientists,” he told ABC News. “His achievements also came amid very difficult circumstances, such as the scarcity of materials and resources because of the blockade on Gaza.”
ABC News’ Cindy Smith and Jordana Miller contributed to this report