Targum must practice equal treatment
Equality is a dream we strive to make a reality. Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela spoke words of equality, which reverberate in our ears. Equality is fair and equal treatment for people regardless of any differences.
Having respect for others helps us to treat people equally, to transform thoughts into both words and actions that help to unite us as a human community.
Frankly, elements of respect and equality are currently lacking in The Daily Targum.
In 2013, the Targum published an Islamophobic advertisement funded by the David Horowitz Freedom Center — a group known for its strong anti-Muslim views — which quickly initiated a grassroots response by many Rutgers students, both Muslim and non-Muslim. The Targum received many phone calls and written messages asking for a response to the ad, which targeted the Muslim community at Rutgers. Student leaders met with Rutgers administrators to discuss the issue and their response was one of support. The Targum, however, did not offer an apology for publishing the advertisement.
A recent commentary by Rutgers student Colleen Jolly was published questioning Hillel’s funding and included numerous inaccuracies as well as an anti-Semitic undertone. Hillel rightly lobbied against the discriminatory remarks. However, instead of focusing their energy on fighting anti-Semitism and anti-religious bigotry, they shifted their focus to the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
The Targum accepted money from a hate group to run the full-page ad and published it side-by-side with its editorial content. The anti-Semitic commentary was written and submitted by a Rutgers student with no affiliation to the paper and published on the Opinions page, which has a disclaimer saying no opinions expressed are reflective of the editorial staff.
With the approval from Targum’s Board of Trustees, Hillel not only received a full personal apology, but also a pledge that all new Targum staff would undergo “sensitivity training.” All articles focusing on Palestine and Israel would also be censored after being submitted to the Board of Trustees, who in my opinion has clearly shown a pro-Israel bias. The original article by Jolly had nothing to do with this political issue and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was not even mentioned. The article was filled with anti-Semitic connotations, but Hillel construed the issue as a door to push their own political agenda in our college newspaper and stifle freedom of speech on a topic actively debated at our university. The Board of Trustees completely welcomed this.
It is clear the Board of Trustees does not treat all communities with equal respect and concern. With the Islamophobic ad, the Targum failed to offer an apology, whereas with the anti-Hillel article, an apology was issued at once. After the Rutgers community mobilized against the Islamophobic ad, no changes were made to the Targum’s protocol. After Hillel mobilized against the anti-Semitic article, “sensitivity training” was added to the Targum protocol and restrictive censorship of Palestinian-Israeli-focused articles has recently been added to the procedure, which stifles political discussion and does not address religious intolerance. Criticism of Israel or discussion of Palestine is not anti-Semitism, nor should it be equated as such. It is clear the Board of Trustees is selective where it concerns itself about bigotry and bias.
I think it is important to have real “Days Without Hate” and stand in unity against all forms of anti-religious attitudes and racism. Let’s reach a spirit of equality in The Daily Targum and push for freedom of speech, while promoting mutual respect for all religious and ethnic groups and their opinions.
Simone Lovano is a Rutgers Graduate School-New Brunswick student majoring in plant biology.