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Rutgers University apologizes for not communicating support for Palestinian community

The chancellor and provost of Rutgers University-New Brunswick issued an apology Thursday following a May 26 statement condemning the rise in antisemitic violence and hostile sentiments across America.

A Wednesday statement from Chancellor Christopher J. Molloy and Provost Francine Conway said recent incidents were greatly concerning and a reminder of “what history has to teach us,” addressing the upward trend of antisemitism, continual racial injustices against minority groups and the increasing violence in the Middle East.

“This recent resurgence of antisemitism demands that we again call out and denounce acts of hate and prejudice against members of the Jewish community and any other targeted and oppressed groups on our campus and in our community,” they wrote.

A day later, Molloy and Conway sent a follow-up message apologizing for their failure to communicate support for members of the Palestinian community on campus.

“We understand that intent and impact are two different things, and while the intent of our message was to affirm that Rutgers–New Brunswick is a place where all identities can feel validated and supported, the impact of the message fell short of that intention,” said Molloy and Conway. “In hindsight, it is clear to us that the message failed to communicate support for our Palestinian community members. We sincerely apologize for the hurt that this message has caused.”

Following the initial Wednesday message, Rutgers’ Students For Justice in Palestine put out their own statement on social media calling the email a deflection from the university’s financial support of Israel. They called for an apology and accountability from the university.

“We are deeply concerned by the statement released from the desks of Chancellor Christopher Molloy and Provost Francine Conway yesterday evening,” the students stated in an Instagram post. “The Chancellor and Provost’s statement exclusively addressing antisemitism comes during a time when Israel’s occupation of Palestine is finally receiving widespread criticism, and despite mentioning the ‘deaths of children and adults and mass displacement of citizens in the Gaza region,’ conveniently ignores the extent to which Palestinians have been brutalized by Israel’s occupation and bombing of Gaza.”

In the university’s Thursday follow-up, Molloy and Conway pledged to work on the issue. “As we grow in our personal and institutional understanding, we will take the lesson learned here to heart, and pledge our commitment to doing better,” the email said.

Rutgers is the latest university to address the estimated 75% uptick in antisemitism related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A string of incidents include the punching of a Jewish man outside a Brooklyn synagogue and the vandalization of a synagogue in Arizona.


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