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Yoel Ackerman, a 36-year-old New Jersey resident and father of three, and a first-year law student at Rutgers University is facing suspension or even expulsion from the school simply for objecting to being subject to antisemitism!

Ahead of his expulsion hearing, Mr. Ackerman has just slammed the school with an explosive discrimination lawsuit claiming school administrators failed to act promptly to protect him from the hostile school environment, and are in fact helping his detractors push him out.

According to the complaint, filed in New Jersey Superior Court in Essex County:

Ackerman was in a group message with a law student who shared an "antisemitic, false video parroting Hamas’ propaganda and misinformation regarding its October 7th terrorist attack."

The video praised Hamas fighters and falsely claimed that no people were raped or killed at the music festival during the attack. 

The video was shared on October 12, when Hamas had called for a worldwide "day of rage" against Jews and others.

Law school administrators failed to act in a timely manner to protect him from the "hostile school environment" and instead said they permitted Ackerman to become the purported bully in the situation. 

Ackerman felt discriminated against, harassed, and intimidated by the sharing and endorsing of that false video, along with related comments defending the same.

Mr. Ackerman subsequently shared with other Jewish law students the messages that their Law School classmates were publicly spreading and endorsing concerning the antisemitic, false video relating to the October 7th terrorist attack.

These messages went around social media. 

Ultimately, his reporting of the video resulted in charges being brought against him.

The Rutgers Student Bar Association began proceedings to impeach Mr. Ackerman so as to remove him as a member of the Student Bar Association.

Their basis is by alleging that Ackerman was “doxing." Typically, doxing involves a person revealing the identity of a person who was anonymous online by circulating to the public the subject’s real name, home address, workplace, phone, financial accounts, criminal history, private photographs/videos, or other private embarrassing personal information without the subject’s permission, typically with malicious intent.

At no time did Ackerman access or disseminate the private identity or information of the law students who posted the videos; rather, he merely shared information that they chose to publicly share to members of the Rutgers community, including speech and their names and photographs attached to such speech. Mr. Ackerman did not “dox” anyone or do anything as a form of punishment or revenge, but rather as a matter of personal and collective safety.

Astoundingly, while Rutgers has doubled down and has filed charges against Yoel in an effort to suspend or even expel him from the school for objecting to being subject to antisemitism, at the same time Rutgers has dropped the complaints against the students who circulated the propaganda video!

The administrators dismissal of Mr. Ackerman’s complaint is a clear example of disparate treatment as it was that very same administrator who had designed and initiated the claims against Mr. Ackerman. Said differently, the administrator set-up procedure roadblocks against the Jewish students, while helping the non-Jewish students craft and prosecute their claims against the Jewish student(s).

Ultimately, that administrator has and is continuing to treat Mr. Ackerman less favorably than other similarly situated, non-Jewish students, by both coming up with charges, and then investigating and deciding her own charges (acting as the judge, jury and executioner) while simultaneously erecting procedural obstacles to block Mr. Ackerman from proceeding with a valid complaint against the other students.

Ackerman also alleges that law school administrators denied his October request to attend classes virtually because he felt “unsafe and humiliated” on campus.

They refused to grant Mr. Ackerman an accommodation, which had been afforded to other similarly situated, non-Jewish students to allow them to attend classes virtually in the aftermath of the October 7th terrorist attack. Amongst the excuses made by the professors for denying Mr. Ackerman’s request was that allowing him to appear virtually would violate school policy. In reality, there is no such school policy.

Rutgers has the second-largest Jewish student of any public school in the US, though the university also has a documented history of antisemitic incidents, including professors sharing antisemitic statements on social media. 

The 5-count complaint names as defendants Rutgers, and The State University of New Jersey; Rutgers-Newark Law School, as well as several members of their upper management:

Katherine Perez, an assistant dean and the Director of Rutgers’ so-called “Community Standards” on its Newark campus; Perez initiated an investigation against Mr. Ackerman for alleged student misconduct.

Erica D. Williams, an assistant vice chancellor and dean of students on its Newark campus, as well as in the Rutgers’ Office of Community Standards. Williams is the superior of Ms. Perez.

Sarah Regina, an associate dean for the student affairs department. Regina is responsible for advising for all nonacademic student organizations, handling violations of the University Code of Student Conduct and handles questions about, or claims of racial harassment, and submission of reports to Rutgers. Significantly, Regina is the faculty advisor responsible for overseeing the Law School’s SBA. On October 12, 2023, Regina received an email in which a law school student erroneously accused Ackerman of “doxing” unspecified Rutgers first-year law students. 

Johanna Bond, the dean of and professor at the Law School. She holds herself out as an expert in human rights law and social justice work. Bond has claimed that a law school should “offer an inclusive environment that allows each student to thrive,” and acknowledged that “in the polarized climate in which we find ourselves, senior administrators must have the ability to bring people together in common cause." Bond is the superior of all faculty and staff at Rutgers Law School, including Regina.

The Rutgers SBA, Students for Justice for Palestine, National Lawyers Guild and the Law Students for Free Palestine are all student organization recognized by Rutgers and/or its Law School pursuant to Rutgers’ policies and procedures, including but not limited to the Rutgers’ Standards of Conduct, Student Organization Policies and Procedures.

As a condition of recognition by Rutgers, student organizations, “accept the rights and responsibilities outlined in this policy and in their organization’s governing department” and such organizations are to be held accountable by Rutgers under this policy. 

The Rutgers’ Offices of Student Conduct and Community Standards are responsible for overseeing student organizations and students, including but not limited to “addressing cases of Student Organization misconduct that involve violations of written University policies.”

Ackerman is represented by Roseland Attorneys David A. Mazie and Adam M. Epstein of Mazie Slater Katz and Freeman, LLC, and Voorhees Attorneys Eric G. Kahn and Heidi R. Weintraub of Javerbaum Wurgaft Hicks Kahn Wikstrom and Sinis, P.C.

Seems the lawsuit is already working as Mr. Mazie said Wednesday that the expulsion hearing has since been adjourned without a new date.

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