STATEMENT BY RUTGERS HILLEL BOARD OF DIRECTORS
As members of the Board of Directors of Rutgers Hillel, we reject recent calls for Hillel Director Andrew Getraer to apologize for “Islamophobic remarks.” Such claims are based on false charges made more than a year ago. The charges were proven false then and they remain so today.
The so-called “Islamophobic” characterization derived from a private Twitter exchange between Mr. Getraer and “Ido Shapiro” who contacted Mr. Getraer ostensibly to learn more about Israeli-Palestinian issues. “Shapiro” turned out to be a fictional character with a short-lived Twitter account. He was later identified to us as the alter ego of Zaid Jilani, a virulent anti-Israel activist best known for having been fired from his position at the Center for American Progress for his anti-Semitic blog posts. (http://www.jpost.com/International/White-House-troubled-by-anti-Semitic-think-tank) It was Zaid Jilani who wrote the original article in “AlterNet” attacking Mr. Getraer and claiming to have received the Twitter information from the “user running the account” of (the non-existent) “Shapiro.”
During Mr. Getraer’s 15 years as executive director of Rutgers Hillel we collectively have spent thousands of hours with him at meetings, events, and in private conversations. Not once have any of us heard him utter an anti-Muslim (or anti- any religious or ethnic group) comment. In fact, we applaud Mr. Getraer and Rutgers Hillel for many outreach efforts over the years to the Muslim community. Examples of Mr. Getraer’s leadership abound:
He publicly supported the right of Muslims to build a controversial community center in lower Manhattan after 9/11.
He met personally with senior university administrators to lobby on behalf of the Rutgers Muslim community’s need for a campus prayer space.
He co-wrote a letter signed by Hillel rabbis and other campus clergy denouncing the surveillance of Muslim students at Rutgers by New York City police, published in The Daily Targum.
Shalom/Salaam, a student organization which aims to bridge the gap between Jews and Muslims on campus, began as a project of a Hillel student Intern.
The Human Development Project, a former Jewish-Muslim student community service group, was the brainchild of a Hillel staff member and Hillel student leaders.
The Middle East Coexistence House on Douglass Campus was the creation of a student who was Hillel Israel Chair and Hillel Student President.
Rutgers United Against Hate brought over 1,500 students together representing the full diversity of the campus to protest the Westboro Baptist Church when they targeted Rutgers Hillel several years ago.
Hillel continues to organize regular “Trialogues” Muslims, Christians and Jews in conversation.
Mr. Getraer actively encourages Jewish student leaders to reach out to their Muslim peers and to work with Muslim organizations on campus as the best way to bridge the deep divides that exist.
Mr. Getraer’s work reflects precious Jewish and Hillel values, which include social justice and the nurturing of interfaith relations. We believe that Mr. Getraer is a great asset not only for the campus Jewish community but the entire Rutgers family.
Roy Tanzman, Esq. , President Dr. Richard Bullock, Executive Vice-President
Board of Directors Board of Directors
Alex Hamilton, President Samantha Brandspiegel, Vice-President
Rutgers Hillel Student Board Rutgers Hillel Student Board