More tsurris for Rutgers: The Zionist Organization of America is complaining about an item in the campus satire newspaper The Medium, an “oped” written in the name of a pro-Israel activist at the center of ZOA’s complaint about anti-Semitic harassment on campus.
A ZOA release explains — sort of. It’s not clear if they realize The Medium is fake news.
[T]he Rutgers student paper, The Daily Medium, targeted and insulted a Jewish student, by falsely attributing to him an opinion piece in the Medium entitled “What About the Good Things Hitler Did?” The piece mocked and trivialized the Holocaust. The Medium published not only the Jewish student’s name, falsely claiming that he authored the opinion piece, but also published his photo.
The ZOA called on President McCormick to (1) conduct a full investigation of this incident and hold the students involved in the publication accountable under the Student Code of Conduct; (2) issue a forceful and public written condemnation of the Medium’s actions; (3) demand that the Medium issue a written apology to the Jewish student; and (4) issue an apology on behalf of the Rutgers administration to the student.
The article in question carries the by-line and actual photo of Aaron Marcus. Last year, the Department of Education launched a probe based on the ZOA’s complaint that Rutgers failed to respond swiftly or effectively to Marcus’ complaints that he had been subject to anti-Semitic harassment for his pro-Isreal views.
The fake oped (available here in that annoying facsimile format) explains that for all the evil Hitler did, he gave the world the Volkswagen and rocket technology, and inspired Jews to “move to Palestine and establish the homeland of the Jewish people.”
I’m not sure what the joke is here — the authors may be saying that if Marcus is able to justify Israel’s sins, he would be able to forgive the Nazis’. Or that Zionism itself owes a debt to Hitler. Either way, it’s extremely heavy-handed. I don’t think a failed or even mean-spirited spoof rises to the level of anti-Semitism or harassment, but it’s definitely a crime against comedy. Plus, the length of the spoof and the use of Marcus’ actual picture seems out of proportion to whatever incident or incidents have made Marcus a public figure on campus. He deserves an apology.
The Medium has been down this road before. In 2004 it published a pointless cartoon about a carnival-style game called “Knock a Jew in the oven.” The pointlessness was part of the problem: you can write a parody that invokes Nazis or the Holocaust (ask Larry David or Mel Brooks) but you better have a point, and you better be good at what you do.
UPDATE: The Anti-Defamation League has also condemned the spoof, saying the “content and misappropriation of [Marcus'] identity creates a situation where he may be the subject of harassment and bullying.”
UPDATE 2: A ZOA spokesman pointed out to me that they were aware of the satirical nature of The Medium, ergo this sentence in their letter to Rutgers president McCormick: “We recognize that the Medium is supposed to be a satirical paper. But there are still boundaries that should not be crossed, particularly when a student is singled out, named, pictured, and publicly mocked.”