Jewish Student Falsely Accused: Satire or Libel?

The ADL has called for Rutgers University to investigate satirical anti-Semitic column, which was falsely attributed to a Jewish student.

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Rachel Hirshfeld,

ADL Dir. Abe Foxman
ADL Dir. Abe Foxman
Yoni Kempinski

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called on Rutgers University last week to investigate the perpetrator of a satirical anti-Semitic column that was falsely attributed to a Jewish student.

The column entitled "What about the good things Hitler did?" appeared in the satirical student publication, The Medium, on April 4, alongside the name and photo of Aaron Marcus, a student known for his pro-Israel advocacy.

The Medium sought to parody an article that Marcus wrote for the student newspaper, The Daily Targum, which criticized the Palestinian Authority for refusing to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

The 'spoof' states that “history has given the Third Reich a bad rap” and that while Hitler was responsible for genocide, he also experimented with rocket science and helped start the auto company Volkswagen, The Washington Post reported.

“To say anything praiseworthy of someone like Hitler, and to have people actually believe it was coming from me, even in a satirical manner, is just really painful,” Marcus told WWOR-TV.

In a letter to Rutgers President Richard McCormick, Etzion Neuer, Acting Director of ADL's New Jersey Office, stated, “We understand that The Daily Medium describes itself as ‘satirical’ newspaper and opinion writers are free to express their views despite how offensive they may be. However, this article specially targets Mr. Marcus and includes anti-Semitic remarks attributed to him. The content and misappropriation of his identity creates a situation where he may be the subject of harassment and bullying. It also contributes to an atmosphere where anti-Semitism can easily become an accepted part of campus life…We do not believe any student should be targeted in this manner and urge you to immediately investigate the matter and take appropriate action.”

The article “is extremely offensive and repugnant,” McCormick said. “No individual student should be subject to such a vicious and provocative and hurtful piece, regardless of whether the First Amendment protections apply to such expression.”

This is not The Medium's first case of publishing anti-Semitic material or making inappropriate references to Jews. In 2004 the newspaper printed a front-page cartoon that belittled victims of the Holocaust, noted the ADL.