In February, the Endowment Justice Collective (EJC) at Rutgers University, made up of student groups and community partners, petitioned the university’s Joint Committee on Investments (JCOI) to engage in broad ethical divestment from the military-industrial complex, prison industrial complex, fossil fuel industry, sweatshops, and “Israeli apartheid.” The petition portrays Israel as an oppressive regime, and by lumping it in with everything else, creates a binary choice: either you support all of EJC’s causes, or none of them.
When discussing how to more efficiently connect multiple, disparate movements, Rutgers Professor Naomi Klein (an advisor for the terrorist-supporting “Jewish Voices for Peace”), praised EJC as a new, holistic, intersectional movement.
Amidst the EJC are anti-Semites that have been plaguing campuses for years: Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). Specifically, the Rutgers, Vassar, and Bard College chapters. Some context is necessary to comprehend the extremism of these three SJP chapters.
Rutgers SJP shared a Facebook post supporting Dareen Tatour, a Palestinian poet convicted for inciting violence against Israelis. Vassar SJP protested Israeli LGBTQ activist Hen Mazzig when he spoke on their campus by chanting the slogan “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” (widely perceived as a call for the destruction of Israel). This phrase was originally coined by the Palestinian Liberation Organization, a former terrorist group responsible for the slaughter of numerous innocent civilians. Vassar SJP acknowledged the chant’s use by the PLO during murderous uprisings and proudly posted it on their Facebook page regardless. Meanwhile, Bard College SJP posted a Facebook video of Palestinian terrorist Ghassan Kanafani, a former leader of the Marxist-Leninist terrorist group the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Among other atrocities, Kanafani helped plan the Lod Airport Massacre which killed 26 people in 1972. Notably, Rutgers SJP pinned the same video on their twitter feed.
Another EJC partner is the Rutgers chapter of Amnesty International. According to Amnesty itself, they do not take an official stance on the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel (BDS). Yet, its Rutgers chapter openly advocates for BDS by supporting divestment from Israel. Do the higher-ups at Amnesty know about this? If so, it would be a clear endorsement for BDS.
Gary A. Rendsburg, a Distinguished Professor of Jewish History at Rutgers University, has called out the hypocrisy of SJP in the past for its excessive focus on Israel, and not the myriads of human rights violations occurring worldwide. When asked about the EJC’s petition, Professor Rendsburg argued that by giving Syria a free pass, despite the Assad Regime’s slaughter of countless innocent civilians, EJC “loses any claim to any moral high ground.” Furthermore, he asked whether the groups feel it is okay to buy products made in China, which has forced one million Uyghur Muslims into detention camps? Ostensibly, the answer seems to be a resounding yes.
Among EJC’s community partners is a Rutgers student that published an anti-Israel op-ed in the Daily Targum, Rutgers’ official student newspaper, containing statements like “Zionism has been the foundation upon which systems of dispossession, ethnic cleansing and apartheid have been built.” As a matter of fact, Zionism is the recognition of the Jewish right to self-determination in their ancestral homeland (Israel), and contrary to the woefully ignorant arguments above, the myth of Israeli apartheid has long been debunked. Arabs in Israel enjoy more rights than anywhere in the Middle East, have the third-largest party in the Israeli parliament, and serve admirably in the highest levels of the government, law enforcement and judiciary. The author of this article, James Boyle, is also a member of Rutgers SJP, Rutgers Amnesty International, and the Central New Jersey Democratic Socialists of America, all of whom are listed as organizational partners of EJC. There are other cases of community partners belonging to multiple organizational partners. The overlap between community partners and multiple organizational partners could indicate that the EJC is attempting to create the illusion of a widespread grassroots movement to intimidate the university, while in reality being far smaller than advertised.
The evidence above makes it clear that the EJC is a front group for bigots hellbent on Israel’s downfall. The State of New Jersey has been a staunch supporter of Israel, having passed significant bipartisan anti-BDS legislation as early as 2016. It is vital that the Rutgers University leadership follow suit, and emphatically deny attempts to pressure its investment committees from succumbing to the pressures of anti-Israel bigots. Finally, although Rutgers is primarily operating remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic, the citizens of New Jersey and pro-Israel Rutgers community must stay vigilant and ensure that the EJC does not accomplish its unethical agenda when the university inevitably reopens.