🔵 Islamic civil rights group in NJ says officials are ignoring Palestinians

🔵 Rutgers pro-Palestine event moved online because of vandalized flyer

An Islamic civil rights group in the state says New Jersey elected officials should not ignore the plight of Palestinians or the Palestinian Americans living in the Garden State.

The group invited politicians to meet with legal and medical experts on "Israeli state oppression," showing frustration that local officials have been focusing their sympathies on the Israeli side but not acknowledging the political and humanitarian conditions of those living in the Palestinian territories.

In a letter to New Jersey elected officials, the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations blames Israel for illegally occupying the 25-mile-long Gaza Strip.

"We wish no harm on any innocent soul, especially no women, or child neither and we mourn the lives lost. Israel and only Israel bears responsibility for the calamities that we have been witnessing for that is the natural result of their oppression," the letter says.

"Palestinians and Muslim Americans make up a thriving segment of New Jersey’s population. They — we — are committed business people, medical and legal professionals, educators, engineers, elected officials, and much more, and it is entirely unacceptable for elected officials to completely overlook our pain — which is why we are reaching out and reiterating our asks, as we have been over the last week," CAIR-NJ's letter says.

Terror in Israel — the latest

Hamas terrorists caught Israel by surprise with rockets and armed paragliders early Saturday morning. The Nova music festival in the desert was attacked with at least 260 killed and hundreds taken hostage.

Among those killed was Laor Abramov, 20, a Hopewell native who was a DJ at the event.

Israel responded with aggressive bombing that reduced much of the Gaza Strip to rubble and cut off electricity and food deliveries. The country vowed to continue blocking aid until Hamas releases 150 hostages. As Israel pounds Gaza from the air, Hamas militants have fired thousands of rockets into Israel.

Click for larger view: CAIR-NJ letter about violence
Click for larger view: CAIR-NJ letter about violence (CAIR-NJ)

Overwhelming support for Israel

The vast majority of state and federal representation in New Jersey has come out in full support of Israel, as did President Joe Biden.

U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J. 12th District, has come the closest to also signaling support for the Palestinian people living under Hamas rule.

"The continued need to assist our ally Ukraine in its resistance to Russian aggression, the need to help our ally Israel in its defense against barbaric attacks by Hamas terrorists, and the growing humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip," Watson Coleman said in a statement. "In New Jersey, our diversity is our strength, our unity is our power. We are able to unite disparate voices into one shared family. Similarly, we must recognize that these three challenges must be met."

She also defended U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Michigan, who voiced support for the Palestinian people but also condemned the Hamas attacks.

"I want to be clear, attempts to silence or smear Palestinian Americans, including Rep. Rashida Tlaib, are unacceptable and run counter to the goal of a just and lasting peace. Falsely equating innocent Palestinians and Muslims w/ Hamas is racist, Islamophobic, and dangerous," Watson Coleman said on her X account Thursday.

Vandalized poster for a pro-Palestinian vigil at Rutgers University (SPJ Rutgers)
Vandalized poster for a pro-Palestinian vigil at Rutgers University (SPJ Rutgers)

Pro-Palestine group at Rutgers criticizes school

The Rutgers chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine moved their "call to action" event Thursday online after a flyer was vandalized and their belief that college president Jonathan Holloway put the group at risk by closing off the street where their event would have happened.

They also believe Holloway has taken an "overt political stance"  of unqualified support for Israel.

The large police presence the closure would require would play into stereotypes of violent Palestinians

"His statement endorses Rutgers Hillel's vigil mourning Israeli settler deaths but fails to make any equivalent mention of Palestinian casualties or IDF war crimes that included cutting off electricity to Palestinians in Gaza, denying them a humanitarian corridor, striking refugee camps medics and hospitals. In Holloway's view, Palestinians do not deserve mourning, only Israelis do," the chapter wrote.

They accused Holloway of sabotaging their event by closing the road where their event was to take place, forcing a large police presence that would feed stereotypes about Palestinians.

(Includes material copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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