Menu

BLOG

Jan
2014

Can Hillel’s funding be put to better use elsewhere?

There have been a few updates to the story: 1/27/2014 | 2/3/2014 | 2/6/2014

The Targum is certainly trying to start the new year off with the same anti-Semitic junk they love so much.

Today’s poorly-written diatribe is by a Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in planning and public policy. Her editorial proves that literally anything anti-Jewish, anti-Israel, or even just anti-Hillel can be published by the Daily Targum Opinions Editor, Amani Al-Khatahtbeh (she also goes by Amani Alkhat).

The published version of the editorial is no longer available online because it was taken down by the Targum staff – we expect a full apology as soon as possible.

Can Hillel’s Funding be put to better use elsewhere?

Posted: Thursday, January 23, 2014 12:00 am
18 comments

From my understanding, Hillel is at $12 million of their $18 million goal for their new building. The addition of the new Hillel building would be the second Jewish building on a historically reformed Dutch college that began its roots in theology. As a student of Rutgers, and a resident of New Brunswick, I find myself considering what $18 million means. This is a success of great ardor, but I also fear the demographics do not fit this proposal.

Either way, it’s hard not to mention how badly the city of New Brunswick could really use $18 million. The lights on the streets are at 50 percent productivity and — in thinking about our future — it is also hard to dismiss what that $18 million could do in creating residences for Rutgers alumni. With a train station minutes from New York City, I began to see New Brunswick not just as a home to a state university, but a more metropolitan suburb in which I often consider taking up permanent residence. It is a long way off, but you could potentially see New Brunswick as a less-cool Williamsburg.

If you know anything about Israel, you can conclude that pro-Israel parties are good at getting money into funds, i.e. the purchases of Jewish National Fund and modern-day Palestine. On Dec. 2, the Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County, a federally and privately funded agency, raised $400,000 at a telefund held at the Douglass Campus Center. I am not 100 percent sure where this money is going, but seeing that they used a University building my only guess would be to the University, or specifically to the proposed Hillel building. This building is to be named after Eva and Arie Halpern.

So I ask you, the reader, if the building for Hillel, seemingly self-funded besides the $3 million dollars gifted (assuming from Rutgers federal endowment) raises any eyebrows. Is the building impractical? As a non-Jewish person, does the Jewish nature make you feel welcome? Do you expect this building to benefit everyone?

I ask that we, the students of Rutgers, re-evaluate the resourcefulness of these presented charitable offerings.

This is just something to think about.

Let’s go through this line by line to show why just about every sentence is filled to the brim with pure, unadulterated racism. The analysis that follows is based on my own opinions, as well as several of the comments on the Daily Targum’s online article (one of which is my own…although it would appear the Targum has messed up my comment.)

“From my understanding, Hillel is at $12 million of their $18 million goal for their new building.” – Perhaps the only example of factual understanding in the entire editorial.

“The addition of the new Hillel building would be the second Jewish building on a historically reformed Dutch college that began its roots in theology.” – The fact that the campus is historically Dutch and theological in nature does not bar Jews, or any other group for that matter, from having a building. In fact, as one commenter pointed out, the campus was also historically all white males. Going back to our “roots” would thus probably not be a good idea for this female editorial writer. Furthermore, the statement shows an utter lack of research – this would not be the second Jewish building. Not even the third. There is currently a Chabad house at Rutgers, and previously the Hillel had a building on College Avenue, which was knocked down as part of a larger push at revitalizing the campus. Hillel also previously had a building on the Douglass campus. Hillel currently resides in a temporary building a block from College Ave. This makes their new building the fifth Jewish building on campus (though admittedly, only two have stood simultaneously).

“As a student of Rutgers, and a resident of New Brunswick, I find myself considering what $18 million means. This is a success of great ardor, but I also fear the demographics do not fit the proposal.” – It’s perfectly within your rights as a Rutgers student and a resident of New Brunswick to consider anything and everything, and indeed, such a large amount of money spent in any particular place is worthy of consideration. However, this particular building fund has really very little to do with the author. It was indeed a “success of great ardor”, but I don’t think she actually knows that for a fact, given that she was not present at a single fundraiser. However, her fear that the demographics don’t meet the proposal is not only unfounded, it’s irrelevant – there are over 7,400 Jews at Rutgers, according to one estimate. Furthermore, this is not a proposal, this is money being spent on a new Hillel building. A proposal can be shot down, we’re building our building without question. It’s a little strange that the author thinks she has that much power in approving or denying the Hillel’s actions.

“Either way, it’s hard not to mention how badly the city of New Brunswick could really use the $18 million. The lights on the streets are at 50 percent productivity and — in thinking about our future — it is also hard to dismiss what that $18 million could do in creating residences for Rutgers alumni. With a train station minutes from New York City, I began to see New Brunswick not just as a home to a state university, but a more metropolitan suburb in which I often consider taking up permanent residence. It is a long way off, but you could potentially see New Brunswick as a less-cool Williamsburg.” – Wow. That’s a lot of crazy in a single paragraph. I’m sorry it’s so “hard not to mention” the city of New Brunswick for the author, but she should probably get that checked out. “The lights on the street are running at 50 percent productivity” is utterly meaningless – does she mean 50% efficiency? 50% brightness? Does “the street” mean College Ave, or the street on which she lives? “I began to see New Brunswick…as a more metropolitan suburb” – thanks for the information on how you see the city, but I don’t think it’s relevant to how the Hillel and their donors spend their money. I understand that New Brunswick is your pet project, but at least make this about cancer or something so you can pull on readers’ heart strings a little harder. At this point you’re just complaining that Jews raised their own money for their own cause, but you’d prefer that money go to a cause that benefits you directly. Sorry, we have no obligation to restore street lights to their full working capacity, that would be the municipality of New Brunswick. In addition to all of this, Williamsburg has a large Jewish population as well. How interesting that this community was also targeted by our prolific editorial author.

“If you know anything about Israel, you can conclude that pro-Israel parties are good at getting money into funds, i.e. the purchases of Jewish National Fund and modern-day Palestine.” – First, yes, I know quite a bit about Israel. My conclusion, though, is not that Jews are good with money, as that’s a fairly nasty stereotype. Thanks for that. Furthermore, “modern-day Palestine” – you mean Israel, which is how you referenced it twice already in this sentence.

“On Dec. 2, the Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County, a federally and privately funded agency, raised $400,000 at a telefund held at the Douglass Campus Center.” – Indeed they did, but I think what the author is trying to say is that Rutgers gave them the space in the campus center for free – it was rented in the same way that any group can rent rooms at Rutgers.

“I am not 100 percent sure where this money is going, but seeing that they used a University building my only guess would be to the University, or specifically to the proposed Hillel building. This building is to be named after Eva and Arie Halpern.” – You’re damn right you’re not 100% sure, you’ve done zero research and are reacting entirely based on your emotions. If that’s actually your only guess, you’re not that bright. The building is indeed going to be named after Eva and Arie Halpern, donors who have personally given a large sum to have the building named after them…making that sentence entirely irrelevant.

“So I ask you, the reader, if the building for Hillel, seemingly self-funded besides the $3 million dollars gifted (assuming from Rutgers federal endowment) raises any eyebrows. Is the building impractical? As a non-Jewish person, does the Jewish nature make you feel welcome? Do you expect this building to benefit everyone?” – The building does indeed raise my eyebrows, we’re incredibly fortunate to be able to be building such a nice new home. The building is in no way impractical, in that the previous building was in constant use and proved to be too small for our needs. As for non-Jews, here’s an article by Danielle Dossantos, about an event she participated in at Hillel. She’s not Jewish. Do I expect the building to benefit everyone? Well, actually, yes – Hillel has alternative spring breaks, participates in a number of charities and fundraisers, Dance Marathon, etc. All are welcome at all of our events. But, to the author’s point, even if they weren’t, it still has nothing whatsoever to do with her. If you honestly don’t expect the Hillel building to benefit you, that’s OK. It’s a Jewish building funded by Jews. There’s a Catholic center on campus, there are plenty of fraternities and sororities with their own buildings – if you don’t think any of them benefit you directly, that’s OK too. Not everything is about you.

“I ask that we, the students of Rutgers, re-evaluate the resourcefulness of these presented charitable offerings.” – They’re not offerings for you to re-evaluate (implying that you’ve evaluated them once before). This is not something you can decline. You have no say in whether or not we build our new home.

“This is just something to think about.” – Oh, it’s far more than that. Why was Hillel singled out among all other groups with buildings? Why was this poorly-written diatribe published with no fact-checking, when all other pro-Israel articles are furiously fact-checked…and still modified without the author’s consent? What’s with the reference to Palestine, vaguely slipped in with no real context? Why is the author so obsessed with Jews and their money? Plenty of unanswered questions, but this is what we have come to expect of the Daily Targum.

Resources: (filesizes are large for full quality)



Update as of 1/27/2014

Enrico Cabredo, on behalf of the Targum, has issued a non-response. Still no mention of actual consequences for any of the parties involved in either this incident or any of the (many) past incidents.

In addition, as what I can only imagine are in their minds reparations, they have printed several articles which criticize them and the article itself. Below are links to all current stories, and included with them are PDFs of the content, since they’re in the habit of removing content from their website when it is retracted.

  • Targum’s Non-response: Targum Article | PDF
  • “Commentary ignores positive goals of many religious organizations” – Members of the Alliance to Advance Interfaith Collaboration at Rutgers University: | Targum Article | PDF
  • “Students’ needs must be met, not ignored” – Ira Jacobs: Targum Article | PDF
  • “Author of commentary uneducated about Hillel” – Sara Beth Kaye: Targum Article | PDF
  • “Commentary should be tolerant and sensitive” – Michael Guggenheim: Targum Article | PDF

Rutgers Hillel has created a press release about the column which was published in the Targum. Hillel’s general Press Release page (this was one of many) | PDF | Targum article | PDF of printed article.



Update as of 2/3/2014

Today in what hopefully becomes a more common occurrence, the Chabad House at Rutgers had a letter published in which they voiced their solidarity with Hillel. Targum article | PDF | PDF of printed article



Update as of 2/6/2014

Two things happened today which seemingly counteract each other. On the one hand, the Daily Targum Board of Trustees (as opposed to the student employees) issued an apology today (which they refused to publish in the Targum itself for some reason). The apology is significantly better than Enrico Cabredo’s, and on the surface seems to have some bite to it. The Hillel responded positively to the apology. Personally, I hope they follow through with what they’re promising. I’ve submitted my many concerns to them and have even had meetings with their student and professional staff members – perhaps this is a turning point. Only time will tell. Hillel’s Press Release page | PDF

And yet, the Targum ALSO published an op-ed by Rowaida Abdelaziz, Tasnia Ahamad, and Syjil Ashraf (all friends of our favorite Opinions Editor Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, who also goes by Amani Alkhat). They claim to be a part of Journalists for Human Rights, but, not surprisingly, they’re all also a part of Students for Justice in Palestine. Speaking of human rights for journalists, do journalists enjoy freedom of the press in Gaza? Because they certainly do in Israel. Targum article | PDF | PDF of printed article

7 Comments

    Amazing analysis of a truly idiotic article. Thanks, Jake.

    Great commentary, thanks for addressing the false and discriminating remarks!

    Wow, that was a brilliant analysis and reponse. I hope the author of the editorial and the people in charge of the site where it was published will read it.

    Great analysis Jake. Keep up the good work. If you continue to write, follow this person for the next few years — she may show up as a Democratic operative one day.

    In the words of the author we witness the epitome of stupidity in its nastiest form of racism. I am not going to provide an exhaustive response using empirical methodology to understand the author’s psychopathology here, but her multiple statements regarding Hillel demonstrate her engagement in highly disturbing, overt narcissistic behavior. As history has proven at its most evil with Adolf Hitler, when perceptions of reality are rooted in narcissism, there is a psychological defect. the author’s resulting defect is her preoccupation with her grandiose delusion which focuses on one coherent, racism-imbued theme … the elimination of Hillel and the Jewish presence it represents as first step to making New Brunswick “a less cool Williamsburg,” as she has stated. I have, but one response for the author:

    “Ignorance and prejudice are the handmaidens of propaganda. Our mission, therefore, is to confront ignorance with knowledge, bigotry with tolerance, and isolation with the outstretched hand of generosity. Racism can, will, and must be defeated.”

    I must say that I was shocked by not only the underlying tone of the original article, but by the ignorance of facts relating to the funding of the new Hillel building. I congratulate Jake Binstein and the Hillel folks for their respective measured and intelligent responses. Hillel was always an admired and important organization on campus during my days on the banks and I am embarrassed by the thrust and quality of the author’s words. I would like to think that the intellectual rigor of Rutgers students has progressed over the years, but I now think back with pride to the fact that no-one whom I knew on the Targum staff back then would have authored such rubbish.

    Thank you Jake for detailed response. I attended Rutgers in 1989 and worked at the Daily Targum in the business office. I loved the experience and found the students who ran the paper to be thoughtful, intelligent and hardworking. It is very disheartening that they would allow Collen’s letter to be published. She is not alone in her feelings but giving her a forum like the DT without any challenges to her statements is reckless and not what I remember about the DT. It unfortunately says more about the decline of the editorial standards of the DT than it does about an ill informed student.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

*


SEND A MESSAGE