FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ADMINISTRATION ATTEMPTS TO SILENCE STUDENT SPEECH AT BEHEST OF PRO-ISRAEL LOBBY; ATTEMPTS TO CANCEL STUDENT CONFERENCE
NEW BRUNSWICK - (September 12, 2003) - Dean Marie Logue of the Department of Student Affairs at Rutgers College; Rutgers University today announced to several student representatives of student Palestine advocacy organization New Jersey Solidarity that the administration has deemed that "logistics" forbid students to proceed with a national Palestine solidarity conference scheduled for October 10-12, 2003; the student organization is determined to continue, saying they will hold the conference "wherever we must." This decision comes the day University President Robert McCormick is scheduled to appear at a dinner sponsored by Rutgers Hillel, a Zionist group on campus.
The hastily-called meeting, to which students were called on Thursday evening, was unexplained. The organization's faculty advisor, Dr. Robert Trivers, was unavailable, and students attempted to reschedule the meeting, but were denied. Dean Logue stated at the meeting that "deadlines" prevented the conference from occurring, even though students had raised over $6,000 to be deposited in their account and met with Dean Johnston of Rutgers College on September 5 - the day of the allegedly missed deadlines. Organizers replied that this assertion was "ludicrous. The deans of this University have made it clear on numerous occasions that they do not want this conference to happen. This is political repression - just as the Palestinian people have been repressed through history. The University is attempting to abuse bureaucracy in order to silence student voices," said Paola Rizzuto, a Rutgers College sophomore and President of the organization.
"We refuse to be silenced. We will hold our conference. The Palestinian people have continued to resist despite incredible and overwhelming force displayed against them - and we owe them nothing less than to refuse to be silenced. We stand in solidarity with Palestine, and we call upon this university to divest all of its funds from the state of Israel and companies that do business with it. To do otherwise is to support apartheid. This is an official action on the part of Rutgers University in support of apartheid," said Charlotte Kates, a second-year student at Rutgers School of Law in Newark.
Robert McCormick, the University's new President, is scheduled to appear tonight at a Hillel-sponsored dinner at Brower Commons, the University dining hall. Rutgers Hillel is sponsoring "Israel Inspires," a counter-conference that will take place the same weekend as the student Palestine solidarity conference. "This appearance indicates the overt bias and discrimination displayed by Rutgers University administration," said Cecilia Joulain, a Douglass College senior and Treasurer of New Jersey Solidarity. "Bureaucracy is not an excuse. This is an attempt to silence student organizing at the University."
New Jersey Solidarity
New Jersey Solidarity
RUTGERS UNIVERSITY OFFICIALS CANCEL PALESTINE CONFERENCE
Statement from the Organizing Committee
of the Third National Student Conference
on the Palestine Solidarity Movement
at Rutgers University
*** This is an Urgent Call to Action! Your immediate solidarity is needed! ***
(Press release follows this Call to Action)
Today, Rutgers University officials have CANCELLED the Third National Student Conference of the Palestine Solidarity Movement, scheduled for October 10-12, 2003 at Rutgers University.
Yet, the students at Rutgers University are determined to hold the conference as planned.
In canceling this widely supported conference throughout North America, the university administration has trampled on constitutional rights, muted free speech, and has betrayed its pledge to fairness and education.
This is an attack on peace and justice activists everywhere. It is an attack on our society as a whole and on our right to free _expression and assembly.
But the university administration has gone much farther, and has taken a shameful overt political stand in favor of Israeli Apartheid. As the university cancels the Palestine conference, it is simultaneously supporting an overarching pro-Israel program called "Israel Inspires", organized by the likes of AIPAC and Hillel International along with others, which will be held at Rutgers to "neutralize the Palestinian movement".
According to the official website of "Israel Inspires" (www.israelinspires.org), the president of Rutgers University, Dr. Richard L. McCormick, "pledged his support for Israel Inspires, and asked to be personally involved in Hillel's positive pro-active initiative." In fact, President McCormick will appear tonight as a keynote at a pro-Israel event hosted by Zionists groups at Rutgers University. Featured participants at the "Israel Inspires" program during the weekend of October 10-12 will include the arch-Zionist Richard Perle and former CIA Director, James Woolsey. They will join the president of the right-wing Hudson Institute, Herbert London, and the publisher & CEO of the Jerusalem Post, Tom Rose. On September 18, 2003, Israeli Minister, Natan Sharansky, will be featured as the opening speaker of the anti-Palestinian year-long program.
Palestine solidarity students and activists have the same right to assemble and hold a conference. They have the right to demand that their university is not invested in another Apartheid system, and that they are not party to the suppression of the Palestinian people. They have the right to express their views and be heard without intimidation and constant harassments.
Palestine solidarity students and activists should not be silenced by anyone. The Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim communities should not be marginalized and positioned as conspirators.
These attacks on the organizers of the Palestine conference and the movement have mirrored the escalating assault on the Palestinian people, and have intersected with the attacks against our civil liberties and constitutional rights. The movement for peace and justice is at a crossroad today, and our society is being tested and pushed to the limits.
The Palestine solidarity movement needs your support! The Third National Student Conference on the Palestine Solidarity Movement must be held as planned.
To register your objection to the university action, and to support the students' constitutional right to hold the conference, please contact the following people. Please also send a copy of your letter to endorsenjsolidarity.org
Richard L. McCormick, President
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
83 Somerset Street
New Jersey 08901
Vice President for Student Affairs
Marie T. Logue
SUPPORT THE CONFERENCE AND REGISTER NOW ONLINE:
ENDORSE NOW ONLINE: