Jada Mayo

Rutgers’ Silence: SJP and Media Accountability

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, takes pride in cultivating an inclusive and secure educational environment for its diverse student body. However, recent events have raised concerns about the commitment to safety and inclusivity, specifically regarding the decision of The Daily Targum to refrain from publishing an op-ed shedding light on the alleged anti-Semitic activities of the Rutgers chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).

The op-ed, titled “Rutgers Needs to Address Concerns Regarding Students for Justice in Palestine,” outlined worries about SJP’s activities on campus, highlighting instances of anti-Semitism and the potential threat it poses to the Jewish community at Rutgers. The article aimed for transparency and factual accuracy, providing links to support its claims.

In the op-ed, the discussion centers on an Instagram post from November 9, 2023, by the Rutgers chapter of SJP. The post discussed several chants for their upcoming rally, notably one that raised concerns due to its historical association with acts of terrorism during the Intifadas: “from New Jersey to Gaza! Globalize the intifada.”

Additionally, the post featured another chant: “Occupying Gaza is a crime! Free free Palestine!” The article emphasized that this chant is factually inaccurate, as Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. The subsequent control by Hamas, a recognized terrorist organization, was achieved through violent means in 2007. The misrepresentation of these facts contributes to the perpetuation of narratives that can be construed as anti-Semitic.

Surprisingly, The Daily Targum declined to publish the op-ed and provided no explanation for this decision. The lack of transparency raises concerns about the newspaper’s commitment to free speech and unbiased reporting. 

The consequences of this decision extend beyond the op-ed itself. By choosing not to publish an article that raises valid concerns about potential anti-Semitism on campus, The Daily Targum inadvertently contributes to fostering an environment where such sentiments can thrive unchecked. This silence allows SJP to continue its activities without public scrutiny, potentially perpetuating an atmosphere that may make Jewish students and supporters of Israel feel unsafe and marginalized.

The concern is further heightened by the fact that The Daily Targum has published several op-eds expressing pro-Palestine views, support for Hamas, and criticism of Israel. While freedom of expression is essential on college campuses, it is equally crucial to maintain a balanced and unbiased platform that welcomes diverse perspectives. The apparent selective publication of op-eds may create an impression of bias, affecting the newspaper’s credibility as an objective source of information.

Adding to the controversy is an Instagram post by the Rutgers chapter of SJP on November 9, 2023, featuring images from a pro-Palestine rally. One image depicted a garbage can adorned with a Star of David and the words “please keep the world clean.” Such imagery, laden with anti-Semitic undertones, raises questions about the nature and intent of SJP’s activities on campus.

The refusal to publish the op-ed contributes to a growing concern that certain voices are being silenced, hindering open dialogue and constructive debate on campus. Universities should be spaces where students can express their views while respecting the boundaries of inclusivity and safety. The refusal to address alleged anti-Semitic activities may inadvertently signal to the Rutgers community that certain perspectives are deemed unworthy of discussion, hindering the university’s commitment to diversity and openness.

This situation prompts reflection on the responsibility of a university newspaper to present a spectrum of perspectives on contentious issues. While cherishing the freedom of speech, it is equally vital to maintain a platform that respects the diverse views of the student body, fostering a fair and balanced discourse—especially at Rutgers University, which boasts one of the largest Jewish populations on a college campus.

In responding to such incidents, education becomes a powerful tool for change in the face of such incidents. Universities must lead the way by promoting awareness campaigns, organizing workshops, and encouraging discussions that address antisemitism and other forms of discrimination.

As we navigate the aftermath of this distressing incident, let us unite as a community to condemn antisemitism unequivocally. Together, we can promote a culture of respect, kindness, and acceptance, where every individual is valued for their unique perspectives and contributions. By standing together against hatred, we can create a university environment that truly embodies the principles of justice, equality, and understanding for all.

About the Author
I am a recent graduate from Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Science in Supply Chain Management and Marketing Science, and a minor in Political Science. I was recognized for academic excellence, and I am an inducted member of the Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society. I am currently serving as a legislative aide and I plan to start law school in August 2024. My advocacy for Israel is deeply rooted in a profound connection, driving my passion to contribute positively to its narrative. Committed to community engagement, I dedicate my time to mentoring the Teen Israel Leadership Conference, where I educate high school students on the Israel-Palestine conflict, effective communication about Israel, and strategies to combat antisemitism. Beyond my academic and professional pursuits, I love to travel, and it is a goal of mine to continue to see the world and experience new cultures. After spending a summer in Rome and exploring Europe, I am inspired to continue my global adventures, with a goal to further enrich my understanding of the world through travel.
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