Let's go on a little journey today. A journey into the sordid world of Rutgers University in New Jersey. For there, you see, Jewish control of the student newspaper is destroying American values, specifically the value of free speech. Our guide on this journey? The not-at-all unbiased opinions editor of the Rutgers student newspaper the Daily Targum Amani Al-Khatantbeh. She is here to report to us her experiences fighting Jewish power and losing.
This blog post, posted on the Huffington Post, is extremely long, so we won't be going over it line by line. Instead, we'll stick to the meat of the story.
Amani leads off with some navel-gazing and complaining about the censorship of the paper. She then builds up her credentials of someone who works for "tolerance" and "building bridges" (forgetting to mention she's also part of Rutgers SJP, famous for its tolerance and bridge building). More on that later. But when she joined the paper, dark times started.
"My very first day on the job was met with controversy. A seemingly preemptive campaign was launched to prove that our newspaper was "biased against Israel" before I even had a chance to do my job, which I almost lost during my very first month for putting a letter from a Hillel member through the very same editing process that we put every letter we receive."I must admit that I don't understand the complaint. Was the Daily Targum founded on the same day that Amani joined it? And it seems to me that it's very legitimate to think that a member of a radical partisan organization like SJP wouldn't be able to keep her politics in check with that kind of power. But OK....no more information there, so let's move on to some actual facts (they are few and far between in this writeup).
"Last semester, after Rutgers Students for Justice in Palestine passed out mock eviction notices on campus to raise awareness of Palestinian home demolitions, the Targum's Board of Trustees -- on which Rabbi Reed's mother is a voting member -- was in direct communication with Hillel over how they wanted the editorial content in my section to be published. They wanted me to publish a pro-Israel letter at the time of their choosing to benefit from increased readership -- an advantage that no other on- or off-campus organization receives. I was threatened with termination if I did not oblige the overbearing influence they were exerting over my editorial decisions."Unless the Board of Trustees is also controlled by Jews, I'm not sure how that decision was Hillel's fault. Any political organization would like their message to be heard and it's awfully gracious of the Board to consult Hillel. Sorry Amani doesn't like it. But why is the Board getting involved in the student paper's editorial decisions? If that was Amani's complaint, she should have made that clearly. I have an answer, but I'll let Amani give her side of the story first (after she's through whining about accusations of bias).
"At the beginning of this semester, I received a commentary written by a Rutgers student with anti-Semitic undertones, questioning Hillel's funding and criticizing "the Jewish nature on campus" that I, as a Muslim Arab-American, was offended by, and that clashed with the interfaith work to which I have dedicated my college years. I selected that commentary for publication anyway."OK, the student newspaper published hate speech. Why?
"I did so firstly because I refuse to censor any opinions, even ones that I may personally disagree with, and secondly because I knew the same type of poor reasoning expressed in the commentary was also applied to the treatment of other minority communities. I hoped that publishing it would result in a positive dialogue about tolerance of all religious and cultural groups on campus. "Sorry, Amani, but this is BS. If the article has been "Islamophobic" there's no way in hell you would have published it. Publishing hate speech doesn't "result in positive dialogue," that's why a lot of countries have anti-hate speech laws.
Amani doesn't publish any extracts from this "commentary with anti-Semitic undertones" so I will (emphasis mine):
"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....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....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?"Whining about Jews raising money for their organizations and vilifying a space for Jews on campus? What's so problematic about that?
But the problem isn't that Amani published this hateful spew. She was merely sticking to her principles of "freedom of speech," after all. The problem is that people dared to exercise their freedom of speech and disagree about her decision to publish it.
"But, instead, members of Hillel exploited the opportunity not only to attack me personally, but also to establish an even larger control over the student newspaper.Did Hillel "demand control" over the paper? I invite you to read the linked article and find out. The only part about "control" I saw was this:
The Board of Trustees privately accommodated Hillel's public display of bullying when Hillel's Executive Director Andrew Getraer responded to the Targum's arbitrary apology, in a letter that the board had no problem publishing. In it, Hillel demanded what amounts to its control over the Targum and its staff members. You didn't read it here first -- you can see the bullying and intimidation exerted over our staff in Getraer's own words in his Jan. 29 commentary."
"We request that everyone on the Targum staff, now and in the future, be required to participate in training, to be developed with Hillel, to understand, recognize and avoid anti-Semitism and other forms of vile prejudice."This is 1. Not a demand but a request and 2. No different than any other form of sensitivity training that people all across America take all the time. Again, as someone who allegedly works for tolerance and building bridges, you would think Amani would be the first person on board with encouraging people learning about anti-Semitism and how to avoid it. Instead, she's the first in line to defend the newspaper's right to publish hate speech (towards Jews only of course). How "tolerant!" As always, I find it amazing that someone who just happens to be part of SJP runs into problems with anti-Semitism. Such a strange coincidence.
Things got worse from there for Amani:
"In the Board of Trustees' private response to Hillel, which Hillel publicized in a press release on its website, it is stated that the board will be taking the unprecedented and "unusual step of requiring the editor-in-chief to submit all letters and commentary [on Israel/Palestine] to the board for approval before they can be published." This is the unjustifiable -- and hidden -- way that the Board is responding to an anti-Semitic commentary written by a Rutgers student, which questioned the funding of Hillel and had absolutely nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."Here's the press release, since Amani didn't bother linking it. It sounds like she's telling the truth...mostly. The bracketed section misleads, the board never claimed that all letters and commentary on this one particular issue be submitted for approval. Amani added that part. The board is in fact requiring the editor-in-chief to submit stuff to Hillel for approval, though, which is somewhat questionable. Of course, Hillel didn't ask the board to do this and it appears to be the board's idea (of course, I'm sure the board is controlled by Jews as well), and it only happened after "a long history of problems here," but sure, let's say Amani is the victim here. She certainly thinks she is, and she was prepared to fight the Jewish power. But she blinked. Why?
"I didn't pull it. I stayed silent. I let the moment pass. Because, as ashamed as I am to admit it, I was scared.If you're confused, let's summarize. Amani published anti-Semitic screed. Jewish community pushes back. Board of Trustees agrees and takes steps to stop the hatred coming from the newspaper. Amani cries victim. Sorry, darling, the time for the "critical discussion of Israeli policy" went out the window the time you published an anti-Jewish article that you yourself admitted had nothing to do with Israel. Remember, Israel has yet to officially come up in this whole sordid story, though based on the press release it sure sounds like the Daily Targum has run into problems surrounding that issue before.
Political organizations on campus with immeasurable power are terrifying. Unlike comfortably tenured professors, we students are vulnerable. We're left totally and completely exposed in a media arena where we are unarmed while Goliaths have entire nationally-funded arsenals at their hands. When my job was threatened because I did not want to change the publication schedule according to Hillel's demand, in my head, there was no way I could fight against our well-connected Board of Trustees and other university bullies without getting obliterated.
I guess my experience echoes that of countless students across the country. Liz Jackson, an attorney who advises students on defending their speech rights, explained, "Unfortunately, Amani's story of intimidation, false accusations of bias, and censorship is common. Palestine Solidarity Legal Support formed in response to students like her from every corner of the country reporting that they could not speak honestly about Palestine on campus without facing legal and personal attacks. Legal bullying, intimidation and official censorship are escalating on campuses as critical discussion of Israeli policy becomes more common. The chilling effect can be devastating. Some students stand up to the pressure and some decide they'd rather stay quiet."
Amani then moves onto whining about free speech and how
"While I was dealing with the thick of all this pressure two weeks ago, Rabbi Reed approached me to ask what I plan on doing after I graduate this semester. My only plan is to continue fighting for freedom of speech and marginalized narratives in our country. The personal attacks I've had to face prove that there is still much work to be done when it comes to increasing tolerance in our society, and the politics I've witnessed behind the scenes reveal that our First Amendment rights are more embattled than ever."If you too want to work for tolerance by published anti-Semitic diatribes and other "marginalized narratives", go work with Amani Al-Khatantbeh. She's apparently hiring!
Jake Binstein, who has been following this story longer than us, has his own take on her article.
Much as I hate to do this, it's time to turn the microscope on Amani. According to her HP bio, she's "Founding Editor-in-Chief, MuslimGirl.net." So let's just take a quick look at her website to see if she's as open about tolerance and free speech as she claims.
Well, I didn't have to look far in the Global section to find an article about French Muslims fighting Islamophobia. Here's a section from it:
"That new global mix includes Europe’s largest Muslim population, yet given the legislation of recent years — which not only bans wearing the niqab in public, but also prevents wearing a hijab of any kind in public institutions including schools and government jobs — France is clearly not at ease with its burgeoning minority population. Thus, the recent spike in anti-Muslim crimes throughout the country should come as no surprise as even the government itself tends toward Islamophobic sentiment."So Amani (by proxy, she didn't write this story, although she undoubtedly approved it) is A-OK with spreading stereotypes about Jews and money, but has a serious issue with France's anti-hijab legislation.
Here's another example:
Perhaps even more disturbing are the growing number of incidents involving the complicity of or caused by the French police. For instance, a young woman who, following the racist outburst of a fellow bus passenger, experienced a physical assault by a male observer of the exchange got a cruel surprise when she tried to get help.Why would this young woman try to get help? I don't understand. All that bus passenger did was exercise his right of free speech, the right that Amani claims to honor above all else. She should be the first to defend the bus passenger, and tell the woman to get over it instead of trying to "censor" him.
Here's another article by Amani herself that's a straightforward attack on Israel:
"Two years later and nothing has been done to bring justice for the 1,300+ innocent civilians that were murdered in Israel’s siege on Gaza two years ago, nor the nearly 6,000 injured in the massacre.... In fact, any actions to help Palestinians living in Gaza have been resolutely shot down by the colonizing Israeli government – sometimes even literally – like in the Freedom Flotilla massacre during the summer, in which Israeli Defense Forces illegally boarded a humanitarian aid boat trying to deliver necessary basic resources to the Palestinian people and murdered 20 peace activists....The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement is a global push towards ending Israel’s illegal actions by uniting consumers against Israeli goods and companies that support its government. By tactfully recognizing where our money is going and steering it away from inhumane causes, we can, as BDS puts it, “apply economic pressure for change.”"If you're looking for an anti-BDS opinion on MuslimGirl.net, or even someone that points out the "peace activists" on the flotilla were actually Turkish jihadists armed with pipes, clubs, and knives, you won't find one. Because Amani doesn't believe in free speech. She's as partisan as any other anti-Israel hater, and only relies on free speech when she goes too far and gets caught, like with her op-ed above. If I'm wrong and you can find a pro-Israel opinion on MuslimGirl.net, more power to her. But I'm confident I'm right. And if I am, then all this whining should be dismissed as just another Israel hater with an agenda.