I am shocked and disgusted over the Rutgers University administration’s lack of disciplinary action towards BAKA, Students United for Middle Eastern Justice.
Over the course of this academic year, BAKA has sponsored events that range from deeply offensive to the Jewish community to one that sought to break international law. Several of the speakers that BAKA has brought to the Rutgers campus openly incite violence and hatred towards Israel and those who support the Israeli state. Most significantly, BAKA has violated Rutgers’ policies on numerous occasions. Two of these events alone make it clear to me that my student activity fee should be returned until the administration takes disciplinary action against this group, which receives its funding from student fees.
Last semester, BAKA’s “US to Gaza” flotilla fundraiser aimed to bring humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza, which in and of itself is admirable and something I support. However, their intention to break the legal Israeli blockade with these funds was politically motivated. If these students were truly concerned about humanitarian aid to Gaza, there are numerous legal organizations to which funds can be donated, but breaking the blockade is illegal under international and United States law. Furthermore, speakers at this event expressed a desire to turn this debate into one of “Israel versus the world, instead of Israel versus the Arab states.” One such speaker, Adam Shapiro, became famous after visiting Yasser Arafat in Ramallah in 2002 and writing statements such as, “Nonviolent resistance is no less noble than carrying out a suicide operation.” The status of the money raised at this event is still unknown.
A few weeks ago, BAKA hosted a national tour titled “Never Again for Anyone,” a program that compares Nazism and the “Final Solution” to the plight of the Palestinians. Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis is included under the European Union’s definition of anti-Semitism. If there was any doubt about anti-Semitism at this event, it was confirmed when the event organizers — national organizations including the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network — decided to arbitrarily charge an admission fee of $5 in response to seeing hundreds of Jewish students and supporters, who would have surely outnumbered their own supporters. I was among several students who attempted to join BAKA so that they could gain free admission. They were denied by the BAKA members, a violation of Rutgers code of conduct. This policy states that membership to all Rutgers University student groups must be open, and no one can be denied membership on the basis of religion, ethnicity, political views, etc.
Additionally, speakers at the lecture were not only anti-Israeli but anti-Jewish, with one speaker remarking, “Well, six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, but there’s plenty still around.”
The leaders of BAKA argue that they are not responsible for what the speakers at their events end up saying and doing, but I argue that they implicitly consent to and agree with these remarks by sponsoring, endorsing, and hosting these offensive and hateful programs. The failure of the Rutgers administration to take disciplinary action speaks volumes, and should not be tolerated by anyone with a connection to the university.
Ariel Bucher, SAS Class of 2011, political science and Jewish studies major, will be attending NYU School of Law.