My name is Yoel Ackerman. I am a Rutgers Law School Student, the only yarmulke-wearing 1LE, and I would like to share my story with you and the world.
On October 12, a mere five days after Hamas invaded Israel and killed and captured many Jews, a Palestinian student at my school began to spread propaganda. He shared an Instagram video in the student bar association group, which I am also a part of. The video explained that Hamas really did not murder any jews. Nor did they rape Jewish women or behead babies. The video went on to explain that Israel “staged” everything.
Shocked at what I was seeing, I asked this individual why he shared this video in an SBA chat if it had zero to do with the SBA or Rutgers University. He proudly responded, “I am just clearing up some information about Palestine.” He proceeded to explain that he also shared this video in several other group chats.
Simultaneously, the Rutgers University Group “Students for Justice in Palestine” was planning a “Day of Resistance” in and around my college campus. Additionally, there were media reports of a “global day of rage” planned for Friday October 13, 2023. In fact, scared for my safety and my children’s safety, I kept my children home from school on Friday.
There was an email which came from the Rutgers Law Jewish email list which informed the students to be careful and be vigilant. The email also stated to “take screenshots” and “make records.”
As such, I responded to the email with a screenshot of the Palestinian student who was parading around the propaganda anti-Israel video. I wrote, “I am taking receipts of the law school students who are publicly supporting Hamas.”
What occurred next has been unbearable for me. An employee from Rutgers University called me and informed me that I was under investigation for violating school conduct policy in connection with my email message to the Jewish group. I have been accused of Defamation and Disorderly conduct.
On October 23, 2023, I was told that I had to meet with an “investigator” from Rutgers. I was told that I would be provided a “campus advisor” but that the advisor would only be allowed to listen to my meeting with the investigator but was not allowed to speak. Then, at the last minute, the rug was pulled out from under my feet. Rutgers informed me that they were not allowing the campus advisor as she was also an advisor to the Jewish campus group and this would be unfair to the Palestinian student who complained about me. I asked Rutgers to push off this meeting due to their last minute tactics. Rutgers refused and demanded that I meet with the investigator.
At this interrogation, I explained that there was a “day of rage” planned and that the reason why I shared a screenshot of this Palestinian student was to protect others from the planned day of rage. The Rutgers investigator then proceeded to tell me that really it was only a “day of resistance” and not a “day of rage.” No big deal. I was patronized for nearly an hour.
Simultaneously I received an email from the SBA president which read:
I am reaching out to inform you that you will be up for impeachment from the SBA in our meeting tomorrow. Based on the alleged actions you took against several students, including ‘doxing,’ defamation, and harassment, you have violated the Anti-Discrimination Clause in Article VIII and Article II (a)(i)(c) of this Constitution. Students from the general student body and the SBA membership have brought these concerns to me and have let me know of their plans to go forward with the impeachment process against you. As such, I wanted to give you notice of this before it happens. Based on the Constitution, you have the opportunity to rebut the allegations during the meeting. Also, if the vote for impeachment passes, you have the opportunity to voluntarily resign. You may also exercise that option now, before we go ahead with the motion for impeachment. If not, we will vote to impeach tomorrow and we will vote for your removal in the next meeting. If you choose to resign before the meeting tomorrow, please respond to this email by 2pm tomorrow. Please let me know if you have any questions. I have attached the Constitution to this email for your review.”
The accusations were baseless, and was I given no opportunity by the SBA President to explain my side. Indeed, the next day, I was summoned to an SBA zoom meeting. The meeting was open to the public and here is what occurred:
I was in a three hour SBA meeting which was open to the public. That’s right. Open to the public. There were approximately 15 Palestinians. All 15 were given five minutes to speak. All 15 reiterated the same prepared speech: “Ackerman (and Cohen) engaged in doxxing and defamation, and their conduct needs to be sanctioned. Ackerman’s conduct has exposed the Palestinians to harm, and injury. Ackerman must apologize. Ackerman must be impeached from the SBA.”
All 15 presented zero evidence to back up any claim. The President of the SBA publicly announced that this was sufficient to have a vote and that if there was a 2/3 vote for impeachment, Ackerman (and Cohen) would be impeached. I was given five minutes to speak.
I have never felt more hurt or embarrassed in my life. The lies, and the hatred spewing from their mouths. The president of the “Students for Justice in Palestine” came into the Zoom meeting in the middle and on the spot made a motion to impeach me. Again, zero facts and zero evidence. Just venom.
(Numerous questions were asked as to the bylaws of the SBA and the impeachment process, and the President of the SBA did not know how to answer them.)
The fact that the SBA would allow the PUBLIC to be part of a meeting where both myself and Ms. Cohen are berated with one accusation after another and bullied into saying “sorry” for mere allegations is appalling to say the least. I have never in my entire 36 years of life EVER experienced shame, humiliation, degradation, and debasement from a group of people such as what occurred tonight for three hours. And the people who were silent are equally to blame.
All of this has occurred while Rutgers has allowed special classes to take place about “Gaza.” Additionally, Palestinian students recently kicked over Jewish memorial candles that were crafted as a star of David and placed outside the Rutgers campus.
Nobody has investigated this Palestinian student for spreading his propaganda video. I remain under investigation and in constant fear.
This letter originally appeared in Yeshiva World News.