November 27, 2017 — New York
AJC is outraged that Robert Barchi, president of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, refuses to openly confront the blatant anti-Semitism and hate espoused by three faculty members.
“President Barchi’s unyielding defense of the professors on free speech grounds is inexplicable,” said Rabbi David Levy, director of the AJC New Jersey Regional Office. “Respect for academic freedom does not compel silence in the face of faculty bigotry.”
For weeks, AJC has engaged in direct talks with senior officials at the highest levels of the Rutgers administration. Following an earlier meeting to discuss community concerns with President Barchi, Levy, together with AJC Director of Campus Affairs Seffi Kogen, wrote a letter to Barchi calling on the university administration to be outspoken in condemning:
- Professor Jasbir Puar, who has sought to lend academic credence to the wild speculation that the bodies of “young Palestinian men…were mined for organs for scientific research” by Israel, spreading a modern-day blood libel.
- Professor Michael Chikindas, whose social media accounts have been a cesspool of anti-Semitic, homophobic, and misogynistic hateful speech.
- Professor Mazen Adi, who served the murderous Assad regime for years as an apologist for the Syrian dictator’s campaign against his own people.
“President Barchi’s written response to our letter is deeply disappointing, as he continues to avert openly confronting anti-Semitism on campus,” said Levy, who added that Barchi’s recent remarks that painting swastikas on university building would be protected by the First Amendment were quite troubling. Though Barchi acknowledged it would be an act of illegal vandalism, he ignored the fact that New Jersey hate crime statutes might be implicated as well.
The American Jewish community has long strongly defended academic freedom and freedom of speech. AJC did not call for dismissal of the professors.
“Jews know how valuable our freedoms and civil rights are, and we do not wish to see anyone else’s rights infringed upon,” said Levy. “Nevertheless, we are puzzled why President Barchi has consistently spoken up to defend these professors, rather than castigate them for their bigotry.”
Instead of confronting the professors, Barchi has verbally attacked The Algemeinier, the news outlet that initially reported the professors’ hateful histories.
“The Algemeiner should be applauded for exposing this bigotry, and its reporting should have encouraged the Rutgers administration to immediately make clear its institutional opposition to this hate,” Levy said. “It is incumbent upon the University to use its own free speech to condemn vociferously these shameful acts.”