Students at Rutgers University in New Jersey woke up this week to discover "eviction" notices pushed under the doors of their dorm rooms in a move by a pro-Palestinian group that at least one student is characterizing as “bullying,” “harassment” and “intimidation.”
According to accounts in the campus newspaper The Daily Targum, activists with Students for Justice in Palestine stuck the notices under the dormitory doors of some 1,000 students on all five of the university’s campuses.
The mock eviction notices were designed to raise awareness about the plight of Palestinians, but some Jewish groups say the stunt was misleading and went too far.
The Daily Targum offered these details on the text of the notices:
The mock eviction notices state they regret to inform the resident that his or her suite is scheduled for demolition in the next three days. If residents do not vacate the premise within this time, they reserve the right to destroy all remaining belongings under Code 211.3B.
Leaders of the Jewish and pro-Israel communities are upset, saying the stunt was aimed at intimidation and skewed the reality of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
"These were not approved fliers, and the information was factually inaccurate and vilified Israel," said Rabbi Esther Reed of Rutgers University Hillel, a Jewish group on campus.
"Making students feel unsafe in their homes is apparently part of the SJP strategy which also includes propagating half-truths, misstatements and historical inaccuracies," she said according to Israel National News. “The fact that students were made to feel that they were not safe in their residence halls is one of the most disturbing aspects here."
In a statement, the Rutgers Hillel also said, "We decry this manipulation and intimidation of students through stunts employed to promote a political agenda.”
That sentiment was echoed by Christians United for Israel, which reaches out to college campuses nationwide to counter anti-Israel activities aimed at impressionable young adults.
"Israel's detractors regularly employ these types of misleading tactics. However, CUFI is diligently working to bring the truth about Israel to campuses across the country," Josh Ahrens, organization's national campus coordinator, told TheBlaze in an email. "This type of action vilifies Israel and her supporters. We focus on the real debate as opposed to theatrics."
Rabbi Akiva Dovid Weiss of the Orthodox Union-Jewish Learning Initiative at Rutgers, said the pro-Palestinian group should be suspended from campus.
"This is a group that receives university funding and routinely engages in controversial and divisive programming and tactics, often employing the use of propaganda, to play on the emotions of students in order to spread their views or message to others," Weiss said.
"I do hope that the university acts to not just reprimand but suspend this group immediately. No warnings, no 'second-chances.' Let this group be the example for all others that an open and inclusive community cannot tolerate groups that engage in making others feel scared and unsafe," Weiss said, according to Israel National News.
SJP has staged similar mock eviction campaigns at other colleges, including at Harvard, Florida Atlantic University and the University of California, Berkeley.
Freshman Elisheva Rosen wrote an op-ed in the campus paper The Daily Targum in which she called this week’s notices “hateful propaganda.”
“There is no place at Rutgers for those who promote the use of bullying, harassment and other scare tactics to violate the privacy and emotions of Rutgers students," she wrote. “As a first-year student, I feel that my door is not a billboard for the intimidation politics of strangers who are intentionally trying to exploit me emotionally. Shoving hatred under my door violates the very principles of security, tolerance and justice that Rutgers stands for."
Another student, senior Hadiya Abdelrahman stood with the campaign, writing a separate op-ed in the school paper: “If the students felt a few seconds of uncertainty in a place they have called home for the past five weeks, then that means these students will ultimately have empathy for Palestinians who continue to feel uncertain and unsafe in a land they have called home for hundreds of years.”