The tsunami of violent targeting of Jews by pro-Hamas criminals has reached the tri-state area. Just last week, a community rally in Tenafly signaled New Jersey officials that they must do more to combat antisemitic attacks. And a few days ago, Joseph Borgen (see the Queen’s Jewish Link’s interview with him on page 72), who was severely beaten on the streets of New York for the crime of wearing a kippah, came out of the hospital to lead over 4,000 protesters at the Wiesenthal Center rally to demand action to safeguard our families and communities.
Now in the midst of it all, as the war with Hamas has been imported to our state and our campuses, Rutgers-New Brunswick Chancellor Malloy cravenly caved to the antisemitic, pro-Hamas Students for Justice in Palestine who are intimidating Jewish students at this state school, home to 6,000 Jewish students.
Initially, the chancellor issued a statement acknowledging that over the past few weeks Jews have been targets of violent physical attacks throughout our region. By stating that simple truth and demonstrating compassion for victims of hate and bullying, including those in the Asian community, were wholly appropriate. Yet almost immediately, Malloy reversed course and apologized to the victimizers instead of the victims.
This isn’t leadership; it’s appeasement that places all our students and communities in New Jersey at further risk. Malloy has decided to grant moral equivalence to the antisemitic BDS advocates. That translates to open season on Jews.
Malloy is unfit to serve in any leadership capacity at Rutgers.
It is high time for our elected officials who transfer our tax dollars to educational institutions to teach all New Jersey students to review both budgets and rules and regulations—not only for students, but for the adults who pay handsomely to guide their education. The IHRA definition of antisemitism must be deployed formally by the State of New Jersey and incorporated into the rules of every state-funded school.
Perhaps the elite at Rutgers want our community to forget the attack on the Rutgers AEPII house on Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Memorial Day, or the postings of Professor Chikindas just a few short years ago followed by swastikas found on campus. We have not, and we will not forget the searing silence to those outrages by the Rutgers administration.
The infection of antisemitism fueled by, or winked at, in our classrooms continues to spread. The Tenafly school system is also funded by taxpayers, with a 40% Jewish population within the school district, and resides in a county with one of the largest Jewish populations in the U.S. Now we learn that a fifth-grade student at the Maughan School, for his character development project, highlighted the wonders of Adolph Hitler’s organizational skills in the systematic murder of six million Jews.
And the teacher’s reaction to the teacher’s approved project? Prominently posting his essay on the school wall for all to see!
When professor Chikindas of Rutgers University was caught with his horrific postings, the Simon Wiesenthal Center took action. We coordinated with the Rutgers Hillel’s Executive Director Andrew Gretrear to invite New Jersey’s major elected officials for a press conference and opened the SWC’s Book People Land – The 3,500 Year Relationship between the Jewish People and the Holy Land exhibit in response to the bigots. At that time top state officials underscored to the university administration that these elected officials, who fund the state universities’ budgets would demand accountability for unaddressed anti- Semitic activities on campus.
We are now reaching out to these leaders including the Governor to take action. In Tenafly, we are reaching out to the school superintendent, who to his credit immediately sent out a letter to the parent body and initiated an investigation. Those words however are not enough. We will offer the Simon Wiesenthal Centers exhibits and educational resources to ensure that all students and their teachers in all grades learn the true lessons of the Holocaust.
Tragically these horrific incidents are not unique to New Jersey. However, together we can and must make things change starting right here in New Jersey. You can make a difference right now, by joining the thousands who have already signed on to our national petition at http://chng.it/TyDbGsJ9h9.
Abraham Cooper is the associate dean and director of Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center; and Michael Cohen is the eastern director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.