Rutgers University (illustrative)
Rutgers University (illustrative) iStock

Rutgers University Hillel has denounced the university chancellor’s letter from last week apologizing for a letter the day before that condemned anti-Semitism and offered support to Jews on campus written after pressure from the campus chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).

"What SJP and the Chancellor have said, in effect, is that NO condemnation of hatred against Jews, of attacks on Jews, of threats against Jews, is legitimate in and of itself," wrote Hillel. "Such bizarre moral logic is twisted, wrong, and must be condemned."

The follow up letter – titled "Apology" – was written after Rutgers Chancellor Christopher J. Molloy’s original letter in which he stated he was “saddened by and greatly concerned about the sharp rise in hostile sentiments and anti-Semitic violence in the United States" and condemned anti-Semitism in the US and on Rutgers campus.

His follow up letter in part stated, “In hindsight, it is clear to us that the message failed to communicate support for our Palestinian community members. We sincerely apologize for the hurt that this message has caused.”

Rutgers Hillel noted that the “last few weeks have been exhausting and terrifying for Jews everywhere. We have seen an eruption of violent antisemitism unparalleled in the last 75 years.”

Jewish students at Rutgers have been “verbally assaulted, some report having their car tires slashed. This follows, of course, on the heels of vandalism at the AEPi House, a Jewish fraternity, on Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Memorial Day.”

The “torrent of hatreds spewing from social media” has been unprecedented, and the lack of support from the university has only increased their sense of isolation.

“Even though (Malloy’s) original statement already condemned all forms of bigotry, because it specifically called out anti-Semitism, the Chancellor chose to apologize for having ‘failed to communicate support for our Palestinian community members.’ As if condemnation of anti-Semitism is some form of anti-Palestinian sentiment,” said Hillel.

They added the fact that in March, the university had no problem issuing a statement condemning anti-Asian prejudice “without qualification or reference to any other minority group.”

The university’s attitude toward its Jewish students and staff has been “grossly prejudiced,” they stated.

They continued, “Taking a positive step, on Saturday Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway issued a ‘Statement on Hatred and Bigotry,’ affirming that Rutgers ‘deplores hatred and bigotry in all forms. We have not, nor would we ever, apologize for standing against anti-Semitism.’”

The statement was welcomed by Hillel as an important first step in rebuilding trust..

“But the still relatively new Rutgers Administration needs to face the fact that the university has an established pattern of minimizing anti-Semitism,” they said.

The American Jewish Committee shared Hillel’s statement on Monday, agreeing with the organization that Rutgers needs to do more for its Jewish community.

“@RutgersU has one of the largest Jewish student populations. It’s unacceptable and disturbing that its administration apologized for condemning anti-Semitism. We stand by our friends at @RutgersHillel working to ensure Rutgers is safe for Jews," they tweeted.