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Rutgers Reconsidering Sponsorship of Terror-Supporting Organization

Following my post on Rutger University Student Assembly’s vote to sponsor the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF), the Student Assembly has discussed a motion to reconsider this sponsorship (hat tip: RU student).

Tension and heated debate circled yesterday as the Rutgers University Student Assembly discussed a motion to reconsider a vote recently passed by RUSA allowing the University Chapter of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund to have the rights to the semi-annual meal sign-away program.

Concerned University students and some RUSA members said that the PCRF, an international humanitarian group that provides Middle Eastern children affected by war with medical care, should not be allowed the right to the sign-away program because they are a highly political international group.

After each side spoke and answered questions for about 10 minutes, they were asked to conclude discussions. Following the meeting in the Rutgers Student Center on the College Avenue campus, the discussions turned contentious as members shouted outside room 411 of the student center.

Kerri Willson, associate director for Student Centers and Programs, tried to calm both sides but they continued to hotly debate the issue for a few more minutes.

“RUSA has shied away from controversy, from taking stances on political issues,” School of Arts and Sciences junior Tali Rasis said. “I can’t think of a more controversial international issue, or definitely among the top that is going on right now.”

Dialla Hamzeh, the PCRF University chapter’s treasurer, said the organization was upset to hear that students were opposed to helping the organization.

“We were actually shocked when we heard this, especially at Rutgers, because we are so diverse,” said Hamzeh, a School of Arts and Sciences junior. “We don’t think [any of the information] is substantial.”

Rasis said PCRF’s founder and President Stephen Sosebee had comments on his blog that indicated he and the PCRF are a partisan organization, which is not a group RUSA should support.

“He supports forceful resistance. That shows clearly [PCRF is] not a neutral group; they’re very much for one side,” she said. “That’s not something RUSA should be fighting [for].”

There were also allegations that the organization had ties with terrorist groups in the past because of their relationship with the Holy Land Foundation, which was brought up on charges in 2007 for funding Hamas, a terrorist group, said RUSA member Avi Scher, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore.

“It’s the international organization I have a problem with, not the Rutgers chapter,” Rasis said.

But Ghadeer Hasan, president of the University chapter of the PCRF, said these accusations are false and did not come from substantial sources.

“I don’t think we should make a decision over a blog, just anything off the Internet that has no credibility at all,” said Hasan, a School of Arts and Sciences junior. “The PCRF works with the FBI, the treasury department, the Isreali embassy and the Egyptian embassy — none of which we would be able to do if we were funding terrorists or were linked to terrorists.”

She said the PCRF did work with the Holy Land Foundation many years ago, but its only relationship to the group was to help a child.

“Where is the controversy over the right of a child to health care?” Hasan said. “I don’t really see controversy over giving a child a second chance at life.”

RUSA is expected to consider the issue over the weekend and make a decision on Monday through an e-mail vote.
Updates will be posted on dailytargum.com as they become available.

Notice how supporters of the original vote are trying to stifle the debate by portraying this as an attack on diversity – rather than a legitimate concern. They are also trying to undermine the allegations against the PCRF by blanket statements against internet-based sources  – instead of addressing each one on its merits. As for the claim that the PCRF’s only connection with the Holy Land Foundation “was to help a child”, this flies in the face of this NY Times report (which I assume was published in print as well as on the internet).

I encourage students at Rutgers University, as well as other interested parties, to review the available information as I presented in my previous post on the subject. Then I recommend you look again at the statement that the PCRF “provides Middle Eastern children affected by war with medical care” and specifically ask the University chapter of the PCRF to demonstrate when exactly they have assisted Israeli children. The more ambitious of you could contact Stephen Sosebee and ask him to categorically deny he made the alleged statements in the 2000 news article, as well as at the fundraising dinner.

I then ask those of you able to vote on this issue to do so with your conscience.

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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