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The Zionist Organization of America is demanding that Rutgers University address an anti-Semitic atmosphere it has allowed on its campus, including threats by one person to “skin alive” a Jew.
“The ZOA has strongly urged Rutgers President Richard McCormick to take several steps to eliminate the hostile anti-Semitic environment on campus,” the organization said in a statement
The group also recommended that the school speak out against anti-Semitism, investigate an employee who allegedly posted on Facebook about a Jew “that racist Zionist pig!!!!,” investigate bias against Jews, eliminate bias against Jews in the curriculum and review the actions of a student organization that reportedly has held anti-Semitic events.
ZOA, a pro-Israel organization, jumped into the controversy because of the attacks on a Rutgers student who was being subjected to hostility, the group reported.
Aaron Marcus, a Jewish student who is a columnist for the Targum, the school newspaper, has reported being threatened physically and even being targeted by death threats because of the pro-Israel positions he’s publicly taken.
Further, he’s consistently run into conflict with members of the school-sponsored, student-group, BAKA, “Students United For Middle Eastern Justice,” a decidedly anti-Israeli group.
In January, BAKA held an anti-Israel event on the Rutgers campus. The event included speakers from the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Americans for Muslims in Palestine and the Middle East Children’s Alliance.
Marcus, along with several other Jewish students, attempted to organize a walkout at the event. But when Jewish students showed up in hordes, outnumbering the BAKA students nearly 4-1, the school-sponsored group refused to let them in. Hundreds of Jewish Rutgers students, as well as members of the local New Brunswick Jewish community, rabbis and Holocaust survivors, were forced to remain outside of the speech hall.
Marcus wrote about the event in his Targum column, criticizing BAKA for promoting the same exclusionary attitudes members claim to condemn.
In response, a BAKA member put up a Facebook posting, saying, “As I was reading Aaron Marcus’ column this morning, I realized I’m a pretty angry person. I’d be happy to see him beat with a crowbar. Violence doesn’t solve problems but it shuts up people who shouldn’t speak.”
Seven other Facebook users endorsed the violent threat against Marcus by clicking “like” on the Facebook message. One responded with a murderous message of his own: “Or makes them martyrs, furthering the strength behind their beliefs. And skinning them alive so they see the afterlife.”
As evidence of a hostile campus atmosphere, the ZOA organization noted that in 2009 Shehnaz Sheik Abdeljabber, the school’s outreach coordinator for the Middle Eastern Studies Department, physically confronted Marcus outside of a Rutgers University Student Association meeting.
ZOA reported Abdeljabber, after a student group meeting, “rushed toward Mr. Marcus and began yelling at him, ‘I’m Palestinian. Do you want to take me on? Do you want to fight? I have thick blood. Try me.’ Ms. Abdeljaber kept pounding on her chest and pointing to her necklace, which was a silhouette of Israel covered by the Palestinian flag.”
The meeting was held to discuss which charity to benefit through the school’s meal swipe donation program. The program allows students to donate unused meal swipes, which possess monetary value, to a charity chosen by RUSA. That year, it had chosen the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund. The group has been linked in the past, through its founder, Steve Sosebeehas, to the Holy Land Foundation, the largest Islamic charity in the U.S., which was shut down for funding the terrorist group, Hamas.
Marcus again penned a column explaining the terror ties of the PCRF and why RUSA funds should not be allocated to them, only to be met by the public harassment of the future RUSA president posting online, saying, “I just wrote an editorial to the Targum concerning ‘Marcus My Words’ article concerning PCRF. I want to take out a full page ad out in the Targum and write, ‘F— You, DumbA–.'”
He later called him a “Zionist pig.”
When Marcus was told by friends taking courses in the Middle Eastern Studies department that professors were calling him out by name in class, he sought help from ZOA and others.
Rutgers officials dismissed the concerns with, “The university has already addressed each of the incidents that you have identified. … We are confident we have satisfied our obligations under both Title VI and the First Amendment.”
ZOA’s call to action now is to urge McCormick to become involved in the controversy.
The letter noted McCormick has a legal obligation to act, based on a policy letter from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, which notes that Jewish students must be protected from anti-Semitic harassment and intimidation under the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
“There’s no doubt that if a university official engaged in bigoted and hateful name-calling against a gay student or an African American student, or threatened and tried to provoke a physical fight with a gay or African American student, Rutgers wouldn’t tolerate that behavior for one second,” said ZOA National President Morton Klein. “And it shouldn’t.
“We are shocked that Rutgers is allowing someone who’s been given the title ‘Outreach Coordinator’ of Rutgers’ Middle East Studies Center to continue in that position, after she bullied and threatened a Jewish student simply because he exercised his right to express his views. What Jewish and pro-Israel student would ever feel comfortable taking a Middle East studies course when the coordinator of the center has shown such viciousness toward Jews and Israel?” his statement said.
“Rutgers needs to start affirmatively addressing the problems that are plaguing the campus and harming Jewish students,” he said.