Editor’s Note: The US Department of Education recently reopened its investigation into a 2011 incident at Rutgers University in which Jewish students were discriminated against by an anti-Israel group on campus. With a new inquiry into this case, the Department has also adopted a sharper definition of anti-Semitism as adopted by the IHRA and many of the world’s governments to include illegitimate criticism of Israel that previously left pro-Israel students unprotected and vulnerable for their beliefs. The discriminatory event that took place at Rutgers University in January 2011 is described by a former CAMERA fellow and Rutgers student in the article below published immediately following this unfortunate experience.
Pro-Israel students barred from Holocaust-minimizing event at Rutgers University
Groucho Marx once quipped that he would never join a club that would have him as a member. I suppose my standards are not as high as Groucho’s because on Saturday night, even as thousands of Rutgers students poured into the RAC to watch the Scarlet Knights lose to the Pitt Panthers, I went to Trayes Hall on Douglass Campus for an event titled Never Again for Anyone. The premise of the event was that Palestinians are the victims of ethnic cleansing at the hands of Israelis, and that this is analogous to the Jews who were victims of genocide by the hands of Nazis. Of course, it is an idiotic premise that flies in the face of proper historical analysis, common sense and decency.
As I found out last night, I had no reason to expect any level of decency from the organizers of the event. The event was sponsored by the Rutgers University student group, BAKA: Students for Middle Eastern Justice. As a side-note, an event that I organized last semester had been interrupted and disrupted by BAKA. The event I held was for Ishmael Khaldi-an Israeli Bedouin who served as a consul to San Francisco. The BAKA disrupters viewed Mr. Khaldi as an “Uncle Tom,” who sold out his people out to the genocidal Israeli government.
At a little after 5 on Saturday, I walked with several of my friends to Trayes Hall where we entered peacefully and signed in. The people behind the desk were polite, as they asked us to display our Rutgers IDs and to write our names and email addresses on a sheet of paper that was lying on the desk. On the same table, there was a sign that read, “$5-$20 Suggested Donation. No one will be turned away for lack of funds.” In addition, this event had been advertised on the Facebook event and on the official website as “Free and Open to the Public.” I declined to pay, as did all my friends. The people behind the desk continued to be polite and said that our decision was fine.
The organizers told us that the doors would not open until 6:30 and that we should form a “queue” to be prepared to enter the room. We did as we were instructed. A couple minutes passed and I exchanged pleasantries with other people in the line. By now, the group of Jews and Zionists grew to several hundred. One report estimates the number at four hundred pro-Israel supporters. After a few minutes, a non-student, adult organizer of the event entered the lobby where we were waiting and told us that the $5 fee was now mandatory for admittance. The money, we were told, would go to the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network. At this point, the crowd got very upset that they had been lied to. One female organizer announced that anyone who did not want to pay could watch the event on Facebook. Up to this point, no such video of the event has been put onto Facebook.
Several witnesses who entered the actual event reported an organizer saying that they decided to charge $5 once “150 Zionists showed up.” The organizers asked Rutgers Police to refuse us entry into the room, which they did. There were about ten officers in the building to stop us from going into the room. Rutgers students took out their Rutgers ID cards, held them out, and began shouting, “Let the students in!” In the meantime, non-Jewish and anti-Zionist students were allowed into the event for free without paying a $5 charge, since they were members of BAKA. When one student attempted to join BAKA on the spot to be allowed entry, he was–again–refused. It became clear that the organizers wanted to shut out all dissenting voices, even if doing so violated Rutgers University guidelines, let alone human decency.
One student who entered the event reported that the room–with a capacity of 320–was less than half filled. Those who entered had the chance to listen to several speakers, including Hajo Meyer, a Holocaust survivor. The speakers not only accused the State of Israel of ethnic cleansing, but they also marginalized the severity of the Holocaust. One speaker argued that while it is true that six million Jews died in the Holocaust, many survived, thus implying that the Holocaust really was not as terrible as those racist Zionists (alas, I repeat myself) want to make it seem.
As I noted above, BAKA has a history of intimidating others who disagree with their warped views. In addition to disturbing my event, they also have intimidated several of my friends who attended past BAKA events.
Even worse, they are engaged in an effort to delegitimize and to destroy the State of Israel. Their accusations are outlandish and false, but they are nonetheless dangerous to our society and to Rutgers University. Israel is the greatest friend America has in the Middle East, and possibly in the entire world. As we watch the Egyptian people struggling for their freedom, it is worth remembering that there is only one stable democracy in the Middle East that grants equal rights to women, gays, ethnic and religious minorities, and all of its citizens. That is Israel. BAKA actively seeks to undermine those liberties: the same liberties that we celebrate and embrace in this country. If BAKA is interested in comparing people to Nazis, perhaps they ought to look themselves in the mirror.
Originally published in 2011 at MoreMonmouthMusings by former Rutgers University CAMERA Fellow Noah Glyn.