Rep. Gottheimer calls on Rutgers University to Remove Antisemitic, Anti-Israel Speakers from Planned Speech

In a letter to Rutgers University President Jonathan Holloway, New Jersey Congressman Josh Gottheimer is calling on him to take action in response to the University’s inclusion of guest speakers Marc Lamont Hill and Nick Estes at a Rutgers-sponsored event scheduled to take place on December 7th, titled “Race, Liberation, and Palestine: A Conversation with Noura Erakat, Nick Estes, and Marc Lamont Hill.”

In his letter, Gottheimer, a Democrat who represents the state’s fifth congressional district, noted that Lamont Hill was dismissed from his role as a CNN commentator for delivering a speech calling to free Palestine “from the river to the sea,” a Hamas rally cry which the Congressman said is “universally understood to signal destruction of the State of Israel and the elimination of the Jewish people.”

The seminar is scheduled to take place at the University’s New Brunswick campus on Thursday.

A spokesperson for the university says the event will not be canceled.

The full text of the letter can be seen below:

Dear President Holloway:

I am writing to express my strong concerns about the upcoming Rutgers-sponsored event on December 7 on your New Brunswick campus, entitled “Race, Liberation, and Palestine: A Conversation with Noura Erakat, Nick Estes, and Marc Lamont Hill.” On the surface, this discussion appears to be a valuable learning opportunity for students. The reality is that the Mellon Foundation’s Sawyer Seminar Series is only providing a platform for two well-known antisemites, Marc Lamont Hill and Nick Estes. Students deserve to feel safe on their campuses, and allowing these speakers to present their antisemitic, anti-Israel views will promote hate speech and exacerbate the potential for violence and attacks toward Rutgers’ Jewish students.

At a time when antisemitic acts and violence have been increasing precipitously across the country, especially on college campuses, including at Rutgers, providing these notorious antisemites a space to further promote their well-known, extreme views will further spread hate speech and increase the possibility of violence and harassment on campus.

Marc Lamont Hill, a former CNN commentator, was dismissed from the network following unacceptable statements denying Israel’s right to exist. At a 2018 United Nations gathering, Lamont Hill delivered a speech calling to free Palestine “from the river to the sea,” words universally understood to signal destruction of the State of Israel and the elimination of the Jewish people. Another former employer, Temple University, condemned Lamont Hill’s speech, and was “regard[ed] as promoting violence” against Jews with language “that threaten[ed] the existence of the State of Israel.”

Mr. Lamont Hill’s remarks have been labeled by prominent local and national Jewish organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League, as “virulent anti- Semitism and hate speech.”

Nick Estes has openly denounced the right of the State of Israel to exist, and has questioned Jewish historical connection to the land of Israel, labeling Israelis “Zionist settlers.” According to the Anti-Defamation League, Mr. Estes openly spreads long-standing troupes of antisemitism regularly “injecting the bigotry and antisemitic conspiracy theories into the discourse on the conflict.”

Since October 7th, there have been more than 110 anti-Israel rallies on U.S. college campuses. Similar to other universities, Rutgers University has also permitted protesters to hide behind face masks, creating a culture of fear on campus. At Rutgers, anonymous protesters have gathered outside of the Chabad House, destroyed hostage posters, and verbally assaulted Jewish students. The Chabad Rabbi reported that Jewish students felt “physically afraid” to leave the building.

The University’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter labeled Hamas’ October 7 terrorist attacks as “justified retaliation.” In November, a Rutgers student was charged with bias intimidation, terroristic threats, and false public alarm after posting on social media threats to kill an Israeli student from the AEPi fraternity. Jewish students on campus feel “devastated, and terrified.”

In accordance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1965 (Title VI) and Executive Order 13899, administrators at colleges and universities across the country have an obligation to protect Jewish students against antisemitism, harassment, and intimidation from masked agitators and groups. Schools that fail to do so jeopardize their eligibility for federal funding.

While differing views are a critical part of building cultural understanding, they cannot provide a bully pulpit for those who seek to divide others and spew hate. The first amendment does not give students the right to bully, intimidate, and instill fear onto other students. If the University’s goal is to promote mutual understanding and bring students together, it will fail so long as antisemites and anti-Israel advocates are given a sanctioned platform on your campus to promote hatred. Thank you for your attention to this matter and I look forward to your timely response.


Josh Gottheimer


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