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When I heard that the chancellor of Rutgers University had retracted his statement condemning anti-Semitism, I was spitting mad. And I’m trying to get my head around the spineless, hateful, and bigoted statements that university executives all over the country are prepared to make in order to pacify the angry crowds.
In case you missed this story, chancellor Christopher Molloy initially sent out the following email:
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 . . .
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 . . .
[While the email also mentioned the recent hostilities between Israel and Hamas, the administrators did not take a position on the conflict.]
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 . . .
Please note that his statement was specific in referring to the long global history of prejudice and murder against the Jews during the last century. His comment about the conflict between Israel and Hamas, although perhaps not even necessary, was at least balanced.
But, of course, the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) protested the chancellor’s message, writing that the “statement exclusively addressing antisemitism comes during a time when Israel’s occupation of Palestine is finally receiving widespread criticism.”
They had much more to say, basically trying to equate anti-Semitism in this country and worldwide that has taken place over centuries, to the conflict of the last 100 years between the Palestinians and Israel.
Don’t misunderstand. The SJP is entitled to say whatever it wants, but my outrage is directed at the chancellor for caving in to their criticisms and protests. Here was his follow-up email, called, “An Apology”:
The administrators apologized to the university’s Palestinian Community members and said that the first message ‘fell short’ of their intention to be a ‘place where all identities can feel validated and supported.’
‘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,’ the message said.
‘Our diversity must be supported by equity, inclusion, antiracism, and the condemnation of all forms of bigotry and hatred, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia,’ it added.
‘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,’ it read.
It’s interesting that he didn’t feel he had to apologize specifically to other identities. Where were his apologies to blacks, Latinos, and Asians? It is probably unnecessary to say that this “apology” was unsatisfactory to the SJP as well.
There are so many reasons why this whole incident is a travesty. The university allowed the Palestinian students to turn this statement of solidarity with and concern for Jews into a political attack. They allowed their original statement, referencing the historic attacks on Jews, to be disparaged by allowing it to be compared to the modern difficulties of the Palestinians. The chancellor, by complying with their demands, allowed them to create a political platform for attacking the Jews and demonstrating their own anti-Semitism with the use of the term anti-Zionism. And by discounting his first statement, he withdrew his own condemnation of anti-Semitism.
I have news for the chancellor. While he allows himself to be intimidated by the demands of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and by those who have an extreme political ax to grind, he is telling the rest of us who are Jews that we are not included in his efforts. He is prepared to cower in the face of anti-Semitic demands and expressions. And his cowardice is unconscionable and sad.
For me it’s personal, Mr. Molloy. And I don’t expect an apology.Published in