Anti-Semitic attacks against Jews in the United States have surged since the latest war between Israel and Palestinian terrorists in Gaza erupted last month. People of good will, regardless of their religion, ethnicity, or background, would condemn such hate crimes because they represent a dark blot on our common humanity. New Jersey’s Rutgers University-New Brunswick did just that at first and condemned anti-Semitism – the world’s oldest continuing form of bigotry. But in a blink of the eye Rutgers’ high-level administrators bowed to pressure from the anti-Semitic Rutgers Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and apologized for having done the right thing. We are living in a sick society when a major public university cowers to anti-Semites and walks back its clear condemnation of anti-Semitism that has exploded to the surface once again.
On May 26th, the chancellor of Rutgers University-New Brunswick, Christopher J. Molloy, and the provost, Francine Conway, released a statement declaring, “We are saddened by and greatly concerned about the sharp rise in hostile sentiments and anti-Semitic violence in the United States.” The statement condemned other forms of bigotry as well, but its focus on anti-Semitism enraged the hate-filled Rutgers branch of the Students for Justice in Palestine. They demanded an apology from the university’s administration for daring to express compassion and concern for Jews being harassed – even beaten – simply because they are Jews. It is no surprise that SJP is serving as the propaganda arm on U.S. campuses for both the Hamas terrorists and the pro-Palestinian mobs who are largely responsible for the most recent hate crimes against Jews in the United States.
Indeed, caravans of pro-Palestinians launched unprovoked attacks on Jews in New York City, Los Angeles, and places in between. The Jew-haters have been out in force in New Brunswick where the Rutgers campus that Chancellor Molloy and Provost Conway represent is located. Rutgers Hillel has reported that ”in New Brunswick in recent weeks, identifiably Jewish students have been verbally assaulted” and that some of them have had their car tires slashed. AEPi House, a Jewish fraternity, had been previously vandalized on Holocaust Memorial Day.
The Jew-haters have evidently decided to imitate their Hamas idols by terrorizing innocent American Jews and to recreate their own version of Kristallnacht in American cities. They chased and beat Jews. They vandalized synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses. And they celebrated their acts of violence and destruction. “If I could do it again, I would do it again,” said Waseem Awawdeh, who was arrested for allegedly engaging in a vicious anti-Semitic attack on a Jewish man in midtown Manhattan last month.
Rutgers’ high-level administrators showed some backbone at first by condemning such hate crimes against Jews. But their principled stand lasted for only a very short time. Immediately after the Rutgers branch of the SJP became enraged and demanded “an apology,” the university’s chancellor and provost at the New Brunswick campus did an about-face.
SJP charged on social media that Chancellor Molloy and Provost Conway were “deflecting attention to the Jewish community,” “exclusively addressing antisemitism,” and contributing to “racist efforts of zionists to erase Palestinian identity and existence.” Chancellor Molloy and Provost Conway should have dismissed SJP’s pack of lies and hatemongering out of hand. They should have doubled down on their original condemnation of anti-Semitism and all other forms of bigotry. However, just one day after Rutgers’ chancellor and provost issued their first statement, they bowed to SJP’s pressure and issued a disgraceful second statement that apologized for condemning anti-Semitism. SJP’s own anti-Semites managed to obtain a mea culpa from Rutgers’ high-level administrators for condemning the recent upsurge of despicable anti-Semitic acts, most often committed by pro-Palestinian anti-Semites themselves.
“In hindsight, it is clear to us that the message failed to communicate support for our Palestinian community members,” the apology statement said about the prior original statement. “We sincerely apologize for the hurt that this message has caused.” After driveling on about “lesson learned,” Rutgers’ chancellor and provost vowed to “make sure that our communications going forward are much more sensitive and balanced.”
Even this craven apology was not enough for SJP. It wanted the university’s full support for the Palestinians’ false narrative of victimhood at the hands of the so-called Israeli “colonialist oppressors.”
After the Rutgers administrators’ cowardly submission to SJP’s demand, Rutgers’ president, Jonathan Holloway, tried to do some damage control. Holloway had the two prior statements issued by the chancellor and provost removed from the university’s website and replaced with his own, which in some ways made things even worse. Holloway did not reaffirm the sentiments of the original administration statement condemning anti-Semitism. He did not expressly disavow the second statement’s apology demanded by SJP. Instead, Rutgers’ president denied that there had ever been an apology in the first place. Holloway concluded his own statement by declaring that 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.”
Holloway’s mushy statement missed the whole point of how important it is right now to shine a light specifically on the current surge of anti-Semitism across the country. It’s fine to condemn all forms of bigotry, which Rutgers’ chancellor and provost did in their first statement. But calling out anti-Semitism in particular, while hate crimes against Jews are increasing daily, is urgently needed at this time. That is what Rutgers’ chancellor and provost first set out to do. But then, bowing to pressure from the university’s anti-Semites at SJP, they cravenly apologized for condemning anti-Semitism. For his part, Holloway pretended that this despicable apology demanded by SJP for condemning anti-Semitism did not happen.
Holloway lost the chance to heal the wound inflicted by the apology and to stand forcefully against hate directed at Jews, including by Rutgers’ SJP branch. He knew that if he tried to take such a principled stand, many members of Rutgers’ leftwing faculty would denounce him for appearing to take Israel’s side against the Palestinians. So, Holloway decided to punt. Evil triumphs when good people do nothing.
Too often these days, people who know better are afraid to stand up against the pro-Palestinian, anti-Semitic narrative, which is gaining more and more traction at campuses, in the mainstream media, in Hollywood, and in the growing progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Well-known influencers are selling the canard that being an anti-Zionist is not the same thing as being anti-Semitic. But it is anti-Semitic when Jews who defend Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state are branded as racists. It is anti-Semitic when Jews’ legitimate fears of being harassed or worse simply because of their religion. beliefs, or ethnicity are brushed aside.
For Jews on campus, SJP is the mirror image of what the KKK would be for blacks on campus. Both are hate groups. University and college administrators would not hesitate to prevent the KKK or other racist anti-black organizations from becoming or remaining officially recognized student groups on campus. Nor would they hesitate to suspend or expel any students found to have committed a hate crime against a black student, faculty member, or staffer. Anti-Semites on campus should receive no less a punishment for their acts against Jews.
Jews’ lives matter too.