Jason Shames and Robert Barchi do not see eye to eye.
Mr. Shames is CEO of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey and Dr. Barchi is president of Rutgers University. After the two met two weeks ago to discuss complaints about anti-Semitism at Rutgers, Mr. Shames walked away unsatisfied.
“I can’t say anything came out of it,” Mr. Shames said of the meeting.
Mr. Shames said the meeting began with state Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg of Teaneck telling Dr. Barchi how upset she was about Dr. Jasbir Puar, the tenured Rutgers associate professor of women’s and gender studies, whose self-described “anti-Zionist” book, “The Right to Maim: Debility, Capacity, Disability,” accuses Israel of deliberating maiming Palestinians.
Mr. Shames said that Dr. Barchi defended Dr. Puar, though he said he disagreed with her. “She has academic freedom and First Amendment rights,” Mr. Shames quoted Dr. Barchi as saying. Dr. Barchi defended her book as having been published by an academic press and passing peer review.
Mr. Shames countered that the endorsement of the book by pro-BDS groups “ discredits and undermines the credibility that the book is academic in nature.”
Dr. Barchi reiterated his belief that “you combat hate speech with more speech, but good speech,” Mr. Shames said. “He was very proud of the symposium on hate speech put on by the ADL on campus.”
Mr. Shames was less impressed by the symposium.
“It was very poorly attended by actual students,” he said.