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Rutgers faces backlash on social media over recent email on antisemitism

The University is currently receiving criticism from students on social media following its recent emails sent to Rutgers community members. – Photo by Rutgers.edu

Multiple Instagram accounts representing students have made posts speaking out against Rutgers’ recent University-wide emails that were sent on Wednesday and yesterday. 

In the initial email, Rutgers—New Brunswick Chancellor Christopher J. Molloy and Provost Francine Conway expressed the University's concern for the rise in antisemitic violence in the U.S. and condemned acts of hate, while also briefly mentioning the “increasing violence between Israeli forces and Hamas in the Middle East.”

The email came just days after students and community members held the March for Palestine event on campus.

Rutgers Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) shared an Instagram post yesterday, expressing their concern regarding the University’s statement and explaining why they felt it was dismissive of Palestinian voices.

“The chancellor and provost’s statement exclusively addressing antisemitism comes during a time when Israel’s occupation of Palestine is finally receiving widespread criticism, and despite mentioning the ‘deaths of children and adults and mass displacement of the citizens in the Gaza region,’ conveniently ignores the extent to which Palestinians have been brutalized by Israel’s occupation and bombing of Gaza,” SJP said.

The organization also stated that if the University is committed to inclusivity, it should be actively supporting its Palestinian population as well as its Jewish population. SJP demanded an apology from Rutgers, which the administrators sent yesterday in the form of another University-wide email following backlash from students. 

“We understand that intent and impact are two different things, and while the intent of our message was to affirm that Rutgers—New Brunswick is a place where all identities can feel validated and supported, the impact of the message fell short of that intention,” they said. “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.”

While the administrators stated that the University is committed to doing better going forward, some students were disappointed with the apology and continue to voice their concerns on social media.

SJP released another Instagram post today continuing to call out the University for their actions and reaffirming their initial demands that they expect Rutgers to fulfill regarding the situation. They said that they welcome conversation with administrators and students. The organization also stated they will only accept transparent statements and releases from the University moving forward.

Other students were upset with the University’s apology because they felt that Rutgers should not have apologized for condemning the country’s recent rise in antisemitism.

Jewish on Campus, an account created to amplify Jewish voices across universities, released an Instagram post today addressed to Rutgers administrators stating that they were disappointed and shocked at the apology. The post said calling out antisemitism should not be a political statement and supporting Jewish students should not be controversial. 

“Condemning antisemitism in the (U.S.) must never be conditional on the conflict in the Middle East, and claiming that such condemnation had a negative impact on the ‘trust’ of your student body is abhorrent,” the post said.

The organization called on Rutgers in its post to support Jewish students at this time and ensure that they feel safe on campus.

The University has no further comment on the emails at this time, said John Cramer, University spokesperson.

Editor's Note: A previous version of this article included links to the two emails sent by Molloy and Conway, which have since been removed from the University's website.

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