New Jersey is home to the second- largest Jewish population in our nation, with our neighbor New York having the largest. The local Jewish community felt Saturday's horrific attacks in Israel at the core.
Israel, even for those who have never been there, is a nation Jews hold close to them. Much like their Israeli brethren, American Jews by and large have disagreed with the politics in Israel over the last few years, but that did not change their attachment to the nation. With continued and ever rising anti-Semitism all over the world, Israel stands as the Jewish peoples' guarantee that there will never be another Holocaust.
Locally, there is support from public officials, reaffirming community support and protection for the Jewish Community. It is reassuring, but the amount of anti-Semitic rhetoric online in local groups is disheartening, and none so disturbing as our area's most prolific social-media elected official — Westfield Board of Education member and Rutgers Law Professor Sahar Aziz.
You can't portray yourself as an advocate for freedom and equality for the Palestinian people while endorsing their acts of terrorism and violence against Jews. Professor Aziz's inability to call out irrefutable evidence of atrocities is not academic expression, its anti-Semitism.
Her Twitter profile very specifically says, "Posts my personal views" — something we should note she added to her profile after public outcry and our editorial last year calling her out for sharing a multitude of anti-Semitic tropes as a board member.
Among her many posts since the attack are the following: "#Israel Can't Imprison 2 Million Gazans Without Paying a Cruel Price" and "ENOUGH! Turns out she wasn't "paraded naked", but was taken to a hospital! Turns out there no rapes or "beheaded babies"! Israel & its MSM accomplices are making up so many outrageous lies to distract from its carnage in Gaza!"
It is disturbing that we have a sitting elected official who has time to post anti-Semitic tropes but can't manage to attend board of education meetings. It is downright appalling that she is the director for Rutgers University's Center for Security, Race and Rights. And beyond that, it is galling that when called out for her lack of attendance at meetings (having missed nearly half of the meetings in a year and more than twice as many as any other board member) and her social media posts, she had the audacity to say those complaining are racist.
We may take issue with policies and decisions of our elected officials, but we don't care what race, religion, gender or sexuality they are. Demanding that they not be anti-Semitic, homophobic or racist and show up to do the job they were elected to do are pretty low bar requirements.
No one wants to see innocent people in Gaza hurt or killed. Unfortunately, Hamas has spread its leadership, weapons cache, and rocket factories throughout residential neighborhoods. They have done this purposely so that when Israel is forced to strike back in its defense, Hamas can shout about innocent people being killed.
Almost all of the social-media posts shared by Professor Aziz in support of Gaza, decry the Israeli response and blame Israel for the escalation. They are trying to create a false narrative — one in which Gaza was a cage in which Israel confined people and deprived them of rights. It is as if they are suggesting that Hamas broke the barriers for freedom, like a modern-day tearing down of the Berlin Wall, or that Hamas just wanted to attend a music festival. This is simply not the case. The reality is that Hamas is the terror group holding their own country hostage. Hamas terrorists murdered over 1,000 people as of this writing. They entered people's homes and murdered entire families. They assassinated elderly women at a bus stop. They kidnapped women and children — whom they then raped, tortured and abused — and we know this because the terrorists keep taking videos and posting them to the Internet. On these atrocities, Professor Aziz's silence is deafening.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is long and complicated, and one we won't rehash here. We do not know what the path to peace is, but we're absolutely certain it is not through terrorist attacks and raining down thousands of rockets on innocent people.
The professor is very lucky to live in America, where she is free to say and Tweet as she pleases — she would not have such rights under Hamas' rule. We support her right as an American to speak as she wishes, but she is not advocating peace or equality — she is endorsing terrorism and stoking the fires of hatred. Ms. Aziz is unfit to hold public office, especially in an area with a large Jewish population and many anti-Semitic incidents. It is time for her to resign from the BOE job she doesn't show up for, and also time for our State University to consider how they're contributing to the security, race and rights of all people by having someone who endorses terrorism heading a department.