IfNotNow NJ calls out Rutgers Hillel

Earlier this month, New Jersey Jewish News published a front-page piece called “Persistence Rewarded: After 10 Years, Rutgers Hillel Dedicates New Building”. To be sure, the new Rutgers Hillel building is an impressive achievement — 40,000 square feet, $20 million in funding, 600 people at the opening ceremony.

But these stats don’t tell the whole story. Because while it congratulates itself on a new building, RU Hillel works to obscure a deep injustice: the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Executive Director Andrew Getraer has refused to apologize for Islamophobic comments that marginalize the Muslim community on campus, and RU Hillel has refused to deeply engage with the injustice faced by the Palestinian people.

At IfNotNow, we believe that the Rutgers Jewish, Israeli, and Palestinian communities deserve better. We take seriously the prophetic tradition of our Judaism. In the deep spirit of Pesach, we regard ourselves as having personally undergone our liberation, and we have solidarity for all those who are still fighting for theirs. We aren’t afraid to name the occupation, and to call for our community to end its support for it.

On the same day that NJJN published the piece on the RU Hillel building, IfNotNow New Jersey demonstrated outside of it. We protested against Getraer’s comments, and showed that if Hillel won’t provide a Jewish space to be real about the occupation, then we will.

There were just a handful of us that night, but we’re part of a national movement, and we’re growing. Last month, in the largest Jewish-led protest of its kind in history, nearly 1,000 IfNotNow activists protested against the occupation outside the annual AIPAC conference in Washington, DC. We’ve also led the charge to get “mainstream” Jewish organizations to speak out against anti-Semitism in the US, and to distance themselves from the Trump administration and its culture of anti-Semitism and other racism.

We reject the idea that RU Hillel speaks for all Jews on campus, let alone all Jews in the area. We reject efforts by RU Hillel, Senator Robert Menendez, the Jewish Federations (which own NJJN), and others to ignore the realities of the occupation. We’re building a vibrant, Jewish, inclusive, affirmative space that demands an end to our community’s support for the occupation. We believe that we will win. And we invite you to join us.

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