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Congressman urges Rutgers University president to speak out against anti-Israel rhetoric by union

Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) asked President Jonathan Holloway to send a clear message so that Jewish and pro-Israel students at the university are not made to feel unwelcome or singled out.

Rutgers University. Credit: Benjamin Clapp/Shutterstock.
Rutgers University. Credit: Benjamin Clapp/Shutterstock.

Expressing concern for Jewish students at Rutgers University who may be targeted for anti-Semitic attacks after a union of part-time lecturers at the university singled out Israel in a recent statement, Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) sent a letter on Monday to Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway asking him to “clearly and quickly” speak out against hate-filled rhetoric and misinformation campaign against Israel at the university.

The statement was issued June 12 by the executive board of the Part-Time Lecturer Chapter of Rutgers AAUP-AFT Local 6324 declaring that they, as teacher’s union members, “can no longer allow ourselves to be complicit in the illegal acts of the Israeli government,” and accused Israel of “military actions that have targeted, killed and maimed civilian populations.”

The letter also accused Israel of upholding “a regime of legalized racial discrimination perpetrated against the Palestinian people.”

Gottheimer’s letter called for universities to be open to free expression and robust exchange of ideas, while remaining inclusive and respectful to people of all backgrounds, religions and nationalities.

“To be sure, Rutgers’ part-time lecturers are entitled to hold their own opinions, even those which may be disagreeable. However, it is important to recognize that invective which singles out, disparages, delegitimizes, or demonizes Israel can and in many cases does fall outside of bounds,” he wrote. “In addition, in recent months, we have seen American Jews targeted in a series of unacceptable anti-Semitic attacks. That is why I am deeply concerned for the wellbeing of Rutgers students who identify as Jewish or pro-Israel and who worry that they might face a hostile environment in the classroom or on campus because of such sentiments.”

Gottheimer asked Holloway to send a clear message so that Jewish and pro-Israel students at the university are not made to feel unwelcome or singled out.

The statement from the union also called for the American Federation of Teachers to divest itself of all Israeli bonds and for the U.S. government to cease financial support to Israel immediately.

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