Rutgers SJP should be allowed to exercise free speech
Letter to the Editor
There has been recent controversy at the University over a student organization’s decision to spread awareness about an extreme political issue by slipping flyers under the doors of different residence halls on each campus. The actions and crackdown on certain organizations are not only inappropriate, but they contradict the values of Rutgers. I am referring to the action of the Students for Justice in Palestine’s action of distributing mock eviction notices to several dorms to inform that thousands of Palestinians have been forcefully evacuated from their homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Regardless of one’s political views on the Israel-Palestine conflict, both sides should be able to freely express themselves. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and the Rutgers SJP chapter has been facing extreme and biased treatment because of it. Certain individuals have been targeting SJP and its members strictly because they disagree with them. This unfair attack, which no pro-Israel organization has faced, threatens Rutgers students’ ability to express themselves on campus.
I am a proud Jewish student and have never once felt I was being targeted for my identity on this campus, especially when it comes to this issue. Rutgers Hillel has stated that certain students felt discriminated against and threatened by the action. I have a very Jewish name, and these mock evictions were spread in my dorm and on my floor, I did not receive a mock eviction notice. The notion that Rutgers SJP specifically went after Jewish students is not based in any form of reality. Rutgers SJP has stated that the sole purpose of this action was to spread awareness, and that is exactly what they did.
This is not an attempt to defend SJP or Rutgers Hillel. It is a defense of free speech and the right of students to speak up for themselves on campus. The claims of bias and anti-Semitism that have been placed on SJP are politically motivated and untrue. The reality we are facing is an attempt to silence certain student organizations because of their social and political views. Attacking free speech is not what Rutgers stands for, and any potential charges Rutgers SJP may face should be dropped.
Ezra Sholom is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore.