NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (WordNews.org) Nov. 27, 2017 – The American Jewish Committee (AJC) has announced its outrage at Rutgers University president, Robert Barchi, for not openly confronting “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.”
AJC said for weeks it has engaged in direct talks with Rutgers’ senior officials “at the highest levels.”
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 AJC says 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, AJC says, “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, at a student government town hall meeting on Nov. 16, defended the three professors on First Amendment grounds, according to Tap Into New Brunswick.
“If I’m a Ku Klux Klan member, and I’m going to burn a cross on a vacant lot, that’s a constitutionally protected right,” Barchi said, although the act of burning something would likely be prohibited by local ordinances.
“You put that cross on my front yard, and you light it, that is not constitutionally protected, that’s harassment,” Barchi added. “It’s an exception to the First Amendment.”
According to Tap Into New Brunswick, as of Nov. 17, 5,333 students have called for Chikindas’ removal.
“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, AJC said.
The American Jewish community has long strongly defended academic freedom and freedom of speech and AJC said it 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.”