Rutgers University Law School student Yoel Ackerman has sued his school for allegedly violating Title VI of the US Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance, claiming that he faces expulsion for reporting antisemitic harassment and intimidation.
“This lawsuit arises out of attempts by Rutgers staff members and students to punish Mr. Ackerman after he complained about the circulation of antisemitic propaganda,” New Jersey-based law firm Mazie Slater Katz & Freeman, which is representing Ackerman, said in a press release issued on Tuesday. “Shockingly Rutgers Law School brought charges against Mr. Ackerman for speaking out in response to this hateful rhetoric.”
According to court documents shared with The Algemeiner, Ackerman’s troubles began after Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7, when he saw on social media that a fellow Rutgers Law student had shared on Instagram a video alleging that pro-Israel advocates promoted “lies” about the terrorist attack to gain sympathy and support for committing “atrocities” against Palestinians.
Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group in control of the Gaza Strip, invaded Israel on Oct. 7 and slaughtered 1,200 people, mostly civilians, injured thousands of others, and took about 240 hostages.
Ackerman brought the issue before the Rutgers Student Bar Association (SBA), a student government body of which Ackerman was a member. However, he was accused of racism and subjected on Oct. 26 to what the lawsuit describes as a three-hour “struggle session” in which his SBA law school colleagues pelted him with insults.
“During this meeting, several students whom Mr. Ackerman had never interacted with before testified against him,” said the complaint, filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey in Essex County. “For example, law student JM, targeted, discriminated, bullied, harassed, and retaliated against Mr. Ackerman. She falsely accused Mr. Ackerman of threatening to dox her and other students — without any evidence. JM moved to impeach Ackerman from the SBA, and to intimidate Mr. Ackerman and other Jewish students.”
“The Rutgers SBA and JM were seeking to chill the speech of Ackerman — as a Jewish person,” the complaint continues. “The content and tone of the SBA hearing were designed or allowed to air antisemitic bias with the intent of discriminating, threatening, harassing, and bullying Jewish law students, including Mr. Ackerman.”
The complaint summarizes in detail Ackerman’s attempts to file formal complaints about the video and the treatment he received, focusing on the conduct of Katherine Perez, an assistant dean in the law school whom the suit names as a defendant. It charges that Perez never watched the video about which Ackerman complained and, in retaliation, charged him with defamation and disorderly conduct. Later, Perez told Ackerman that a complaint he had filed lacked merit and would not be investigated.
Ackerman’s attorneys said in a press release that he will on Thursday attend a final disciplinary hearing that will determine whether he is expelled from school.
“In sum, Rutgers plans to hold this ‘kangaroo court’ in which they refuse to permit Ackerman to be represented by counsel (who cannot speak or otherwise advocate on Mr. Ackerman’s behalf), and have failed to advise him of the witnesses who will testify against him, and which ostensibly will be presided over by the very person who initiated and brought the charges, against him,” the suit says.
The Algemeiner has reached out to Rutgers to confirm the details concerning the hearing on Thursday.
Ackerman additionally alleges the ordeal he experienced has caused medical complications, and he is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.
“It is time to speak out,” Ackerman said on Tuesday during a press conference. “Just five days after the largest attack and attempt at genocide against the Jewish people since the Holocaust, one of my peers shared a video that was highly offensive and in my opinion antisemitic … What has resulted since is nothing more than an attempt by Rutgers and other students to silence my right to speak out against antisemitism. I will not be silent in the face of hatred towards Jews.”
In a statement to The Algemeiner on Wednesday, Rutgers Law School declined to comment on “pending litigation” but said that it “takes seriously any claims of antisemitism, Islamophobia, and all forms of bias.”
“Any such claims are investigated are reviewed, and where appropriate, remedial or disciplinary actions are taken,” the statement added.
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.
Newly released documents from the Deschênes Commission show Canada’s reluctance to prosecute Nazi war criminals
The release of formerly classified documents from the 1986 Deschênes Commission—which investigated how Nazi war criminals entered Canada after the Second World War—reveals greater details about why the government was reluctant to prosecute them once they were in the country, says David Matas, the lawyer who represented B’nai Brith Canada at the inquiry. Canada released […]
South African Immigrants to Israel Protest Against Former Country Government
Dozens of South African immigrants to Israel protested against their former country’s government on Friday, standing with their new home against political and legal attacks from South Africa’s ruling ANC party, highlighted by accusing Israel of “genocide,” last Thursday in the International Court of Justice (ICJ)
“The demonstration is not against South Africa or its people, but against its disgraceful government. I am proud to stand here as an Israeli, but I am ashamed of the government of my homeland, for stooping so low. It is a danger to Judaism,” said David Kaplan, an attendant of the event.
Former Knesset member Ruth Wasserman Lande, who was raised in Cape Town, South Africa before moving to Israel for military service, living in Israel since, added “Justice is with us, the ruling party of South Africa has sold its soul to Iran.”
The protest in Ra’anana in central Israel comes a few weeks after Israel was forced to stand trial at the International Court of Justice in The Hague against charges of “genocide” in its current defensive war against Hamas in Gaza. The charges were filed by South Africa’s government, a noted friend of Hamas leadership and outspoken critic of Israel and the Israeli government.
In South Africa’s case against Israel, the country alleges that the IDF is acting “genocidal in character because they are intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial and ethnical group.”
The suit came as both countries are signatories to the 1948 Genocide Convention, passed after the Holocaust and with the goal of creating proceedings to ensure no genocide like what happened to the Jews of Europe occurs in the future.
Israel said South Africa was acting as “the legal arm of Hamas,” and called the charges “baseless,” especially as the country has been noted to take unprecedented steps to protect civilians in the war. Furthermore, the war began after Israel was attacked by Hamas terrorists on October 7, when they invaded southern Israel, murdering more than 1,200 and taking hostage over 240.
The ICJ refused to grant South Africa’s wish of calling for an immediate ceasefire, but nevertheless ruled to investigate the genocide charges and called on Israel to “take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of all acts within the scope of [genocide].”
Even this past week South Africa continued its attacks, calling for the defunding of Israel, with Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor saying “This necessarily imposes an obligation on all states to cease funding and facilitating Israel’s military actions.”
The post South African Immigrants to Israel Protest Against Former Country Government first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
Robert Kraft Antisemitism Nonprofit to Air Super Bowl Ad Featuring Associate of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Foundation to Combat Antisemitism (FCAS), a group created by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, will air its first Super Bowl commercial when the San Francisco 49ers take on the Kansas City Chiefs on Feb. 11.
An estimated 100 million television viewers will see the commercial, which features Dr. Clarence B. Jones, a former legal adviser of civil rights hero Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Jones, according to FCAS, helped King draft the famous “I Have a Dream” speech, which was delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC on Aug. 28, 1963.
“I know I can speak for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when I say without a doubt that the Civil Rights movement (including the passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Acts) would not have occurred without the unwavering and largely unsung efforts of the Jewish people,” Jones said in a press release issued by FCAS. “With hate on the rise, it is as important as ever that all of us stand together and speak out. Silence is not an option. I’m glad that I’ve lived long enough to partner with Robert Kraft and FCAS to continue to spread the message to the widest possible audience — the Super Bowl.”
This year’s Super Bowl commercial mark’s FCAS’ biggest push to promote awareness of antisemitism since its founding in 2019. Last year, the nonprofit launched a $25 million multimedia campaign, which asked supporters to use the “Blue Square” emoji available on iOS devices in their social media posts.
FCAS has undertaken numerous other initiatives to address rising antisemitism.
In March 2023, it announced a partnership with Brandeis University, which will include a student fellowship program for undergraduates, conferences featuring leading experts on antisemitism, and collaborations with K-12 administrators. Additionally, Brandeis University’s Hornstein Jewish Professional Jewish Leadership Program will expand to include “Kraft Scholars,” who will participate in new online degree and certificate programs that will train them to respond to crises caused by antisemitic incidents.
Kraft, who led the remarkable transformation of the New England Patriots from a second tier club to an annual Super Bowl contender and winner of six such titles in under twenty years, founded FCAS after being awarded $1 million through Genesis Prize, an honor given to successful members of the Jewish community. FCAS focuses most of its resources on social media, aiming, it says, “to stand up against racist and violent rhetoric aimed at the Jewish people through the most accessible and most powerful avenue of information in the world.”
In a statement, Kraft, expressed hope for this latest campaign and praised Dr. Clarence Jones as an emblem of his FCAS’ highest aspirations.
“The work Dr. Jones has done over the course of his entire life and career is the embodiment of FCAS’ mission to build bridges and stand up to Jewish hate and all forms of hate. In the time we have spent together and through his work, I have become a huge fan of Dr. Jones, and I am proud to spotlight all that he has done for our nation,” he said. “With this ad, we hope to continue to spread Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s message of unity and equality at a time in which the country needs it mist most, and our goal is to reach a wide audience of people and inspire all Americans to stand up together, arm in arm, and fight this horrific rising hate.”
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.