November 30, 2023

Rutgers University / Call to Action

Dov Ben-Shimon Federation CEO

Dear Federation and Community Leaders,

For the last eight weeks, Jewish students and faculty at Rutgers University have been confronted with a significant and disturbing rise of hate and antisemitism. Student groups like SJP (Students for Justice in Palestine) have called Hamas’s massacre of Jews in Israel “justified;” their actions against Jewish students on campus have moved far beyond microaggressions. Yesterday, at the business school, pro-Palestinian students “occupied” the building, interfering with students’ access to their education. Similar to what’s happening at universities across the country, Rutgers Jewish students are being harassed, intimidated and threatened.

On December 7th, Rutgers Center for Security, Race and Rights is hosting a program entitled, Race, Liberation and Palestine:  A Conversation with Noura Erakat, Nick Estes and Marc Lamont Hill.  The keynote speaker at this event is Prof. Joseph Massad from Columbia University, infamous for his longstanding antagonism to Israel and antisemitic remarks. Most recently, he praised the terrorist massacre on October 7th as being “awesome and incredible” and a “stunning victory.” He continues to be a vocal supporter of Hamas.

In this environment of rising hate and antisemitism, we fear this event will stoke further hatred and antisemitic attacks on campus. Instead of promoting respectful civil discourse, intellectual integrity and nuanced conversations, Rutgers is hosting speakers who are promoting false narratives of Israel.

Rutgers Hillel Director Lisa Harris Glass is deeply concerned for the safety and well-being of Jewish students and faculty.

We urge you to support Jewish students at our state university, and email President Jonathan Holloway. We’re supplying you below with a sample letter, which you can copy and paste (or write your own), along with the address of a senior member of the president’s administrative team who is responsible for the event.

Thank you in advance. Together we’re going to stand up against Jew-hate.


Subject:  Race, Liberation and Palestine Event/ Dec. 7

Dear President Holloway:

It has come to my attention that Rutgers University will be hosting the program, Race, Liberation and Palestine, sponsored by the Center for Security, Race and Rights. The director of this center, Rutgers Law Professor Sahar Aziz has regularly and consistently promoted vile antisemitic propaganda on her private social media pages, and in her role as a member of the Westfield Board of Education, has had an ethics complaint filed against her by a fellow BOE member.

Among the speakers at the event sponsored by Ms. Aziz’s organization at RU-Newark, is Prof. Joseph Massad from Columbia University, long known for his antagonism towards Israel and antisemitic remarks. Recently, after the horrifying terrorist attack in Israel, he praised Hamas’s attack for being “awesome;” a “stunning victory.”  Despite the horrific murder, rape and torture of over 1200 Israeli Jews and Arabs, and citizens of other countries, Prof. Massad continues to be a vocal supporter of Hamas.

As a New Jersey taxpayer, I am appalled that an event featuring speakers like Joseph Massad, who propagate false narratives of Israel and Hamas and deny the Jewish peoples’ historic connection to the land of Israel, is taking place at our state university. I am disturbed by reports that the Rutgers’ business school was “occupied” by pro-Palestinian supporters, interfering with students’ access to education.  I am concerned by Jewish students reporting incidents of harassment and threatening behavior. Rather than promote respectful civil discourse and teach our students the importance of critical thinking and nuanced conversations, events like the one scheduled on December 7th will only fan the flames of hatred on Rutgers’ campus.

According to Hillel Director Lisa Harris Glass, both Jewish students and faculty feel frightened.  She is rightfully concerned for the safety, security and well-being of the Jewish community on campus.  It is deeply concerning to me that the state university supported by my taxpayer dollars would allow an event that promotes hate speech.

This past September 28, as part of President Biden’s National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism, eight federal agencies clarified in writing, that Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits certain forms of antisemitic, Islamophobic and related forms of discrimination in federally funded programs and institutions.  Jewish people must be provided the same level of protection against harassment and discrimination that are provided to other minority groups.  Rutgers has one of the largest Jewish populations on any campus in the United States.

It is up to you to keep our students safe, physically and emotionally.

I strongly urge you to cancel the Race, Liberation and Palestine event scheduled for December 7th.

Sincerely yours,

Email addresses:
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]

Chief Executive Officer