The ZOA sent the following letter to Richard McCormick, the president of Rutgers University, after the Rutgers student paper, The Daily Medium, targeted and insulted a Jewish student, by falsely attributing to him an opinion piece in the Medium entitled “What About the Good Things Hitler Did?” The piece mocked and trivialized the Holocaust. The Medium published not only the Jewish student’s name, falsely claiming that he authored the opinion piece, but also published his photo.
The ZOA called on President McCormick to (1) conduct a full investigation of this incident and hold the students involved in the publication accountable under the Student Code of Conduct; (2) issue a forceful and public written condemnation of the Medium’s actions; (3) demand that the Medium issue a written apology to the Jewish student; and (4) issue an apology on behalf of the Rutgers administration to the student.
This Jewish student has been the victim of anti-Semitic attacks at Rutgers before, by other students and even by a university official. Triggered by a complaint filed by the ZOA, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is currently investigating whether Rutgers violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, by failing to respond effectively to the anti-Semitic harassment and intimidation of this Jewish student, and to an anti-Semitic and anti-Israel event in January 2011 that enforced a discriminatory admissions policy against Jews.
April 4, 2012
We have written to you several times in the recent past to urge you to address the anti-Semitic harassment and intimidation that Aaron Marcus and other Jewish students at Rutgers University have been subjected to on campus. Today, Mr. Marcus was targeted and victimized again. We urge you, once again, to finally take action.
Today, a Rutgers student paper, The Daily Medium, published a disgustingly offensive opinion piece entitled “What About the Good Things Hitler Did?” (See http://issuu.com/rutgersmedium/docs/dailymedium2012print?mode=window&pageNumber=8.)
The Medium falsely represented that the piece was authored by Aaron Marcus. The Medium went so far as to publish Mr. Marcus’ name and photo next to the piece. To further encourage readers to believe that this was Mr. Marcus’ opinion piece, the Medium also deliberately used the same by-line – “Marcus My Words” – that Mr. Marcus uses when his regular columns are published in the Rutgers student paper, The Daily Targum.
Here is a sample of what the Medium falsely and offensively attributed to Mr. Marcus. The article begins as follows:
“I will be the first to admit that I am a proud Jew who supports the founding of Israel, the safety and protection of its people, and the rights of Jews everywhere to a comfortable state of living without fear of bigotry and persecution.”
The Medium then goes on to falsely attribute to Mr. Marcus the outrageous notion that “history has given the Third Reich and its leaders a bad rap,” and that there are many “good things” that Hitler has supposedly done, including overseeing the creation of the Volkswagen and helping to create the Autobahn.
“The surviving members of the Jewish faith were inspired by these ‘atrocities’ to move to Palestine and establish the homeland of the Jewish People, an event which I think would not have happened without the help of ol’ Adolf. . . So the next time you are driving in a car, watching the movie ‘Armageddon’ or walking past Hillel, be sure to give Hitler a little thanks. I know I will.”
The Medium’s actions in publishing this piece and attributing it to Aaron Marcus, even going so far as to use his photo, is appalling, defamatory, and anti-Semitic. The students involved in the Medium deliberately and specifically targeted a student who is known on campus to be Jewish and a supporter of Israel.
We recognize that the Medium is supposed to be a satirical paper. But there are still boundaries that should not be crossed, particularly when a student is singled out, named, pictured, and publicly mocked. The students at the Medium used Mr. Marcus in an abusive and insulting way to make light of the Holocaust and the atrocities committed against the Jewish people by a genocidal maniac. These students surely knew that they would hurt Mr. Marcus, as well as other members of the Rutgers community.
As you are well-aware, this is not the first time that Mr. Marcus has been targeted and made the victim of anti-Semitic attacks at Rutgers. Mr. Marcus’ life was threatened by students on Facebook. Rutgers barely responded, conducting little if any investigation into the incident, failing to communicate with Mr. Marcus after he reported the incident, and giving the student who threatened to silence Mr. Marcus with a crowbar a slap on the wrist – simply a warning, when Rutgers’ own policies consider physical threats to be so serious that they justify suspension or even expulsion. Apparently, a physical threat against a Jewish student is subject to a different and lesser standard at Rutgers.
Mr. Marcus was also physically threatened, bullied and subjected to anti-Semitic name-calling on Facebook by a university official – Shehnaz Abdeljaber, the Outreach Coordinator for the Rutgers Middle East Studies Center. Ms. Abdeljaber even tried to incite others against Mr. Marcus, encouraging them to visit a hate page about him. Rutgers never investigated these attacks that she perpetrated. Shockingly, Ms. Abdeljaber is still, according to the university Web site, the Outreach Coordinator for the Middle East Studies Center – a place that most Jewish students reportedly and understandably do not feel welcome.
We strongly believe that Rutgers’ failure to respond appropriately to all these prior incidents against Mr. Marcus is what led to the attack against him today. The university’s inaction when Mr. Marcus — and other Jewish students – have been targeted and discriminated against has sent a dangerous and unacceptable message to the Rutgers community: That Jewish students like Aaron Marcus are fair game at Rutgers. They can be targeted, threatened, maligned and discriminated against, and Rutgers will not only tolerate the behavior but justify it as protected speech.
We hold Rutgers responsible for what Mr. Marcus suffered today and demand that you finally take action. It is your moral duty as the leader of the university to stand up for the safety and well-being of Mr. Marcus and other Jewish students who have been unacceptably victimized on the campus.
Is Rutgers waiting for the day when these verbal threats and attacks escalate into actual physical attacks on Jewish students? Please be advised that if any physical harm comes to Mr. Marcus or any other Jewish student, we will hold Rutgers responsible.
You must call for a full investigation into the Medium’s actions and hold the students involved in the publication responsible for harassing a Jewish student and creating a hostile environment for him, in violation of the Code of Conduct.