Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff) waded into a fight over Rutgers University’s part-time lecturers’ union call for the school to divest from Israeli bonds over the nation’s treatment of Palestinians Tuesday.
“To be sure, Rutgers’ part-time lecturers are entitled to hold their own opinions, even those which may be disagreeable. However, it is important to recognize that invective which singles out, disparages, delegitimizes, or demonizes Israel can and in many cases does fall outside of bounds,” Gottheimer said in a letter to university President Jonathan Holloway.
PTLFC-AAUP-AFT Local 6324, the part-time lecturers’ union, earlier this month called on the university to pull its money out of Israeli bonds over Israeli settlements in Gaza and the West Bank considered illegal by the international community and the United Nations.
They also took issue with other alleged human rights abuses.
“As teachers and union members, we can no longer allow ourselves to be complicit in the illegal acts of the Israeli government that have driven Palestinians from their homes or with military actions that have targeted, killed and maimed civilian populations of Gaza and the occupied West Bank, and that have destroyed vital infrastructure, including schools and hospitals,” the union said earlier this month.
Israel and Palestinian groups rekindled a long-standing conflict earlier this year that saw the two exchange volleys of artillery and rocket fire, killing at least 256 in Palestine and 13 in Israel and injuring more than 2,000 others.
The fighting paused when the two sides reached a ceasefire in late May, but the fighting resumed earlier this month after Hamas, the ruling militant organization in Gaza, launched incendiary balloons into Israel.
“Considering recent events, it is important to send a clear message that all Rutgers students and community members, including those who identify as being Jewish or pro-Israel, will not be singled out, penalized, or made to feel unwelcome at our state’s flagship university,” Gottheimer said in the letter. “I would ask you to please speak out clearly and quickly against this hate-filled misinformation campaign and rhetoric.”
The congressman did not say which portions of the union’s statement were inaccurate.
The part-time lecturers’ union’s call for divestment follows a similar call from the broader Rutgers faculty union, which in May called for President Joe Biden to stop all aid to Israel over the alleged human rights violations.