(JTA) — Jewish students at Rutgers University and their supporters who turned out to protest a campus event sponsored by anti-Zionist groups said an admission fee to the event was levied only on them.
Some 400 pro-Israel Jewish students and their supporters gathered Saturday night to attend the "Never Again for Anyone" program, which had been billed as a free campus event.
The event was sponsored by the campus student group BAKA: Students United For Middle Eastern Justice, and organized by three national organizations: the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Americans for Muslims in Palestine and the Middle East Children’s Alliance.
According to event organizers, a fee for the event of between $5 and $20 was imposed at the last minute after the university decided to charge the organizations a higher fee to rent the auditorium upon determining that it was not a student event. The fee was set in order to cover the cost of the hall rental and to pay for two security guards engaged after it was learned that there would be protests, according to the Providence Journal.
But student protesters told the newspaper that the sign reading free admission was taken down as they approached the venue and that they believe the charge was a way to discourage the protesters from attending the event, since they would not give money to a group whose message with which they disagree.
If the protesting students had been allowed to attend the event, they would have outnumbered supporters 4 to 1, according to reports.
The event also was endorsed by humanitarian, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, Greek life and anti-racist student organizations at the university, according to the Rutgers student newspaper, The Daily Targum.
A letter by BAKA published in the student newspaper Jan. 27 invited all members of the campus community to the event.
The Jewish students who made the claims on the admission fees reportedly gathered in the lobby of the student center and sang Hebrew songs.
“Never Again for Anyone” is billed as a nationwide tour "to honor those who perished in the Holocaust by upholding the human rights inherent to all people — and particularly for Palestinians living under Israel’s occupation." At least 14 programs in 11 cities are planned through the end of February.