Rutgers used to be different

As a Rutgers alum (Rutgers College 1981) it was disturbing to read the Hillel  executive director’s account of the hostile and unwelcome campus environment that Jewish students are experiencing. (“What’s going on at Rutgers?” February 16.) I reminisce and contrast that with my undergraduate experience on the Rutgers-New Brunswick campus over 40 years ago, when Jewish students overwhelmingly felt safe and secure. In 1978-79 I was co-managing editor of a campus-wide magazine titled “The Rutgers Jewish Review,” which focused on Jewish related national and local current events, arts, culture and lifestyle. The staff consisted of Jewish as well as non-Jewish students, all of  varying political beliefs. The common denominator that united the staff was their solidarity and support for Israel. The magazine existed independently of any interference from university administration or other student organizations. Sadly, times have changed on campus, but alumni engagement can make a difference in influencing university officials to take corrective action such as suspending the Students for Justice in Palestine chapter in December 2023, along with thousands of emails sent to the university president last semester calling out an academic forum on campus as nothing but a cover for espousing antisemitism and anti-Israel hatred.

Marc Sapin

It’s not a dysfunctional Congress

Who is aiding the enemy?

Max Kleinman is of course right that America’s foreign policy right now is dysfunctional (“Our muddled foreign policy gives comfort to our enemies,” February 16). Back in October, President Joe Biden asked that Congress appropriate billions of dollars to aid the embattled democracies of Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan.

But it’s not a “dysfunctional Congress” that’s to blame for the failure of the money needed to enable Israel to defeat Hamas and, at least as significantly, be prepared to defeat Hezbollah if war breaks out despite intense American diplomatic efforts. It’s not a dysfunctional Congress that, by not rearming Ukraine, is letting Russian dictator Vladimir Putin think Eastern Europe may yet be in his grasp. And it is not a dysfunctional Congress blocking efforts to help Taiwan fend off a promised attack from the Chinese Communist Party.

It’s a Republican-controlled House of Representatives that has blocked the aid, first holding it up by demanding a foreign aid bill be paired with a border bill and then, when a tough compromise with Senate border hawks was reached, rejecting it immediately on Donald Trump’s demand. Instead, the Republican House impeached the Jewish Interior Secretary without adducing any actual evidence of the treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors the Constitution sets as the bar for impeachment.

In particular, it’s a House of Representatives led by hard-right Christian supremacist Mike Johnson, a Donald Trump ally, who has refused to let bills that have broad bipartisan support in the Senate go for a democratic vote in the House of Representatives.

I’m old enough to remember when aid to Israel — sometimes coupled with other foreign aid to ensure bipartisan passage — was the core issue for American Jewish communal activists such as Mr. Kleinman. I’m old enough to remember when a congressman who stood in the way could count on a challenge from AIPAC and other advocates of a secure Israel.

And yet — total silence from AIPAC on this. And from most of the rest of the Jewish organizational alphabet soup.

In refusing to mention this while rambling about a litany of uneven foreign policy decisions, Mr. Kleinman is giving cover to Mike Johnson and the Republican Party. I’m sure that Mr. Kleinman is no idiot. But he is certainly useful — and comforting — to Mike Johnson, Donald Trump, and, of course, Vladmir Putin and Xi Jinping.

Jack Katz

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