WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Zionist Organization of America sent a letter to the president of Rutgers University urging him to do more to combat anti-Semitism on the campus.
The ZOA was responding to an incident in which a Jewish student was skewered by a university-funded, student-run satirical newspaper.
The ZOA leadership in an April 17 letter praised Rutgers President Richard McCormick for his actions to condemn the attacks on Jewish student, Aaron Marcus, but told McCormick that “additional steps are necessary.”
“As we wrote to you on April 4th, we believe that Rutgers must take responsibility for having allowed an environment to take seed and grow at Rutgers, where Jewish students — particularly when they speak up against anti-Semitism and Israel-bashing — are perceived as permissible targets, because the university will not take the necessary steps to protect them,” the ZOA wrote.
The ZOA began its correspondence with McCormick after The Daily Medium released a parody column "What About the Good Things Hitler Did?" in its April 4 edition and attributed it to Marcus, a Jewish student who writes a regular column for the mainstream student publication, The Daily Targum.
ZOA originally criticized Rutgers University for the attack on Marcus, who is the grandson of Holocaust survivors.
“We hold Rutgers responsible for what Mr. Marcus suffered today and demand that you finally take action. It is your moral duty as the leader of the university to stand up for the safety and well-being of Mr. Marcus and other Jewish students who have been unacceptably victimized on the campus,” the ZOA April 4 letter said.
New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez spoke out about the dangers of anti-Semitism in a speech before the Hillel Student Leadership Gala 2012 at Rutgers University on April 15.
"The fact is that history teaches us that words matter. Words matter. They can be hurtful, thoughtless, but even beyond that, even when intended satirically, they can step over the line to anti-Semitism. When taken too far or too seriously, they can be dangerous and lead to anti-Semitic hate crimes and real violence,” Menendez said in his speech.
Menendez also called on the Rutgers campus to avoid its “demonization” of Israel and the Jewish people.