Two leading Jewish campus groups at Rutgers University in New Jersey have expressed concern over the university's continued employment of adjunct professor Mazen Adi — a former spokesperson for the Syrian regime who accused Israeli officials of trafficking children's organs.
As The Algemeiner first reported last week, Adi worked on behalf of Syria's Foreign Ministry for 16 years, most recently as a diplomat at the United Nations in New York between 2007 and 2014 — defending Syria as it was accused of gassing, torturing, and starving its own citizens.
He joined Rutgers' Political Science Department in 2015, and will teach a class on international law this spring. The university told The Algemeiner last week that its faculty members had a right to free speech, and said Adi was hired due to "his expertise in international law and diplomacy."
Rabbi Yosef Carlebach, who heads Rutgers' Chabad House, told The Algemeinerthat he has been at the university for 39 "excellent" years and felt compelled to emphasize that it "is not a center or a hotbed of antisemitism."
"The administration, from the very top and down, has worked with us over the years on many different projects, on many different issues," he stressed.
However, Carlebach acknowledged that over the years, the university is "going to hire people and claim academia takes precedence over everything — they're going to use the freedom of expression line to give license to absolute wrong."
"Antisemitism is around us, and there are going to be pockets of places that exhibit antisemitism, and [Mazen Adi] and others like him are perfect examples of that," he warned. "We have to do our best to get our students aware of it."
Carlebach said the revelation that Adi — who most recently worked as a Syrian diplomat at the United Nations in New York between 2007 and 2014, when the regime of President Bashar Assad was accused of multiple war crimes — was now a faculty member at Rutgers sparked "tremendous concern" in his community.
"There's a feeling that ... our school, that we so much love and care for, is once again allowing itself and its good name and reputation to be tarnished in the name of academia," the rabbi said. "It's something that we have to do everything in our power to deal with."
He called on members of the Jewish community to "do their utmost to make the administration aware that you cannot have people who call Jews baby-killers talk loudly in the name of academia."
The Jewish campus group Rutgers Hillel similarly urged university leaders this week "to condemn Adi's statements as the mouthpiece of the murderous Syrian regime and to investigate the process by which a man like Mazen Adi was hired in the first place."
"There are no doubt, Arab, Yazidi, Druze, or other students at Rutgers whose own relatives were murdered by the government for which Adi was a spokesman and apologist," Rutgers Hillel wrote. "How must they and their families feel knowing this man is now a Rutgers 'educator?'"
The group pointed out that the university was "already reeling from revelations" that Professor Michael Chikindas — whom The Algemeiner first interviewed — published multiple antisemitic, homophobic and misogynistic social media posts.
Adi has been accused of making antisemitic remarks while representing the Syrian regime at the UN — notably at 2012 Security Council meeting, when Adi claimed that "international gangs led by some Israeli officials are now trafficking children's organs."
This "racist conspiracy theory," Rutgers Hillel observed, has been advanced "by another Rutgers professor, Jasbir Puar," who reportedly repeated allegations in a 2016 talk that the bodies of "young Palestinian men ... were mined for organs for scientific research."
"There is no basis in truth for this modern version of a medieval, anti-Semitic blood libel," Rutgers Hillel warned. "Each of these Rutgers professors: Chikindas, Puar and Adi, gives voice to traditional racist, anti-Jewish tropes."
Concerns over Adi's presence as a faculty member at Rutgers have not been limited to the Jewish community. In a show of bipartisan solidarity, Rutgers' college Democrats and Republicans issued a joint statement on Monday calling on administrators to "remove" Adi.
"Rutgers fails its mission and responsibility towards its students by employing a former spokesperson who endorsed the murderous regime of a disgraceful dictator," the students wrote.
A spokesperson for Rutgers said the university currently had no further comment on the matter.