When I came to the University three years ago, I had just finished a three-month internship at the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C. My journey at the University really began on a whim. I was looking for apartments in New York City in mid-July to finish school at Yeshiva University. By the second week of August, I found what appeared to be the last open room in a Jewish apartment on Huntington Street. The rest is history.
It’s strange how life works out — prior to summer 2009, my career path seemed pretty straightforward. Return to Yeshiva, graduate in 2011, go to law school, become a lawyer and live happily ever after. But young journalists at the NJC dedicated to preserving freedom and exposing truth inspired me to do the same. While it is possible and important to do this on a state and national level, I found no better place to start than in my own backyard, and I haven’t stopped since.
Believe me when I say that I prefer non-confrontational discussion. However, at a University filled with mistruths and propaganda, there needs to be a group of people committed to exposing both facts and fallacies regardless of the consequence.
Unfortunately at the University, advocates for truth and challengers of the status quo have little, if any, voice. When I first came to the University, I found this to be a surprise. How could a campus filled with Jewish and pro-Israel students —many of which have spent extensive time in Israel — sit quietly while baseless attacks were lodged against Israel? It wasn’t until I became vocal in my support for Israel, a pro-Palestinian instead of anti-Israel movement and smaller, more efficient government that I finally understood their silence. Free speech is supposedly paramount at the University, but if you deviate from the norm, you are met with harassment, intimidation, violent threats and anti-Semitism from students and University officials alike. Now how many people do you know who will stand up to consequences like that?
Some of you mock this idea. You live in a bubble where anti-Semitism at the University doesn’t exist, and despite all evidence pointing toward the affirmative, you close your eyes and you shut your mouths. Calling for the destruction of a Jewish state in Israel is anti-Semitism. A University official calling a student a “Zionist pig” and then encouraging other students to post hateful messages about him in order to have their “voice” heard is anti-Semitism. A University official starting a petition to censor a columnist because of his support for Israel is anti-Semitism. Threatening to harm another student because of their support for Israel is anti-Semitism. The Medium stealing the identity of a Jewish student to write a pro-Hitler column that possessed zero comedic value with the sole purpose to spew hatred is anti-Semitism. In fact, The Medium supported this claim last week when their paper made a “serious” statement on the cover that “Virtually every article that appears … is designed to entertain.” Notice their usage of the word “virtually” — not every article but “virtually” all are intended to entertain. Clearly one of those exceptions was their anti-Semitic diatribe that praised Hitler.
If you don’t see this string of events as anti-Semitic, you either aren’t paying attention or hatred toward Jews — particularly ones who dare speak out — doesn’t bother you. If you fall into either one of these categories, there is serious cause for concern. We know that most University students don’t care in the least bit about University politics. Rutgers United won a campus-wide election just last week with resounding support from about 7 percent of the student body. So clearly, people adamant that anti-Semitism doesn’t exist aren’t those not paying attention — rather they are the people who aren’t bothered by hatred toward Jews. I do not believe that anti-Semitism is widespread at this school, but the University most definitely tolerates it, and that is the antithesis of an open and diverse education.
Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize winner Eli Wiesel gave a lecture a few years ago recounting the Jewish experience in the United States. One of the most memorable quotes taken away from that speech was, “in Jewish history, there are no coincidences.” Jews have for centuries experienced the aftermath of anti-Semitic rhetoric, and it is not something anyone should ever have to experience. It is my hope that the University takes a firm stance against anti-Semitism and truly protects the free speech of Jews on campus.
Dialogue is the most important thing to a productive world, but in order for dialogue to exist, civil discussion has to be accepted and that doesn’t include death threats, harassment and praising Hitler. I will graduate in a few weeks, and this is my last column for The Daily Targum, a publication I disagree with from time-to-time, but it really is a champion of dialogue on campus. They have allowed me to have a voice and more importantly, for my voice to be heard. For that, I will be forever grateful. I leave you with a saying from Ronald Reagan, a man I greatly admire and frequently reference, but this quote truly is the essence of my personal vision of the world. “I know in my heart that man is good, that what is right will always eventually triumph. And there is purpose and worth to each and every life.” To the University, the past three years have truly been a unique learning experience, and to the students remember to always, always, always search for truth.
Aaron Marcus is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in political science with a minor in history. Marcus has been a Targum columnist since fall 2009.
There are 9 Jewish campus groups. There is a center for Jewish studies. 16% of the schools population is Jewish. Largest jewish population and percent in the U.S There is a massive jewish dorm complex near the main campus. There is a also a huge Jewish group home on the same campus. That is just one campus. Rutgers has 4..
I wish I there was a way to tell this kid that he isn't doing any favors for the Jewish people by writing these articles without coming off as antisemitic.
I am extremely against antisemitism but when you live on the most jewish dominated campus in the U.S. shut the fuck up about how you are being oppressed. There is a ton more marginalized groups that don't have a bunch of building or make up nearly a fifth of the school.