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Blood Libel in the Garden State

The student newspaper at Rutgers runs some disgusting "facts"--and doesn't allow readers to respond.

12:00 AM, Apr 17, 2002 • By CLAUDIA WINKLER
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ON APRIL 5 the Daily Targum, campus newspaper of Rutgers University, published a front-page report on a pro-Palestinian student rally. It quoted one protester, a fourth-year pharmacy student, as claiming that the media portray Palestinians as terrorists, "but when the Israeli government went into an all-female hospital and randomly selected 30 women, called them terrorists and executed them, you don't hear about it." She added, "We must educate where the media has failed."

Now, no one would look to student demonstrators for dispassionate scrupulousness about facts--or expect student editors to exercise infallible judgment. Still, it's disappointing that the Daily Targum, while willing to recycle this unsourced allegation of atrocity, has thus far failed to publish any of the responses it received.

One reply, submitted by Leslie Fishbein, associate professor of American Studies and Jewish Studies, placed the hospital allegation in the context of the fantastic lies circulating in the Middle Eastern press, both ancient libels and current fabrications--you know, the real attacker of the World Trade Center was Israel.

"These false charges," wrote Fishbein, "have fueled anti-Semitic instances worldwide, leading to the torching of synagogues and the beatings of innocent Jews. They also detract from the sympathy Israel deserves for the terrorist outrages that Palestinian homicide bombers have committed upon an equally innocent civilian population. The Daily Targum has no right to publish unsubstantiated lies that can promote anti-Semitism and that can corrupt its readers' understanding of the current violence in the Mideast."

You'd have thought it couldn't do the Targum's readers any harm to be exposed to Prof. Fishbein's point of view.

Rutgers, of course, is not alone in being the site of strident pro-Palestinian rallies. The University of Michigan and campuses in the San Francisco Bay Area have been especially active. The Associated Press reports that at Berkeley "in recent weeks, vandals heaved a cinder block through a window of a campus Jewish center and scrawled anti-Semitic obscenities, and Jewish students say they've been pelted with eggs while leaving services."

Not all of this is new. Jeffrey Ross, director of the department of campus and higher education affairs at the Anti-Defamation League, recalls hearing an Arab student inform a campus forum last year that Israeli soldiers are trained to shoot Palestinians' eyes out--and regularly do so.

Come to think of it, that episode took place at Montclair State University, not far from Rutgers. Maybe there's a story here for some enterprising campus journalist: How about tracking down where the Muslim student activists of northern New Jersey are getting their "facts" about what goes on in the Middle East?

Claudia Winkler is a managing editor at The Weekly Standard.