A rift has broken out between a New Jersey-based pro-Palestinian student group and a national pro-Palestinian organization, threatening a three-day Palestinian solidarity conference scheduled for Rutgers University in New Brunswick in October.
A spokeswoman for the National Student Conference of the Palestine Solidarity Movement (PSM) confirmed that the group has voted to move its third annual national conference from Rutgers to Ohio State University because of "concerns about the capability of New Jersey Solidarity (NJS) to host this year’s conference successfully."
But an NJS spokeswoman countered that the Rutgers conference would proceed as planned.
"All I can say is we’re having a conference," said spokeswoman Charlotte Kates, a Rutgers law student.
Some Jewish groups have criticized Rutgers and New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey for allowing the conference to be held at a state school, while others have defended the conference on free speech grounds.
A Rutgers spokeswoman told The Jewish Week that the university understands there will still be an October conference on its campus. But Rutgers Hillel officials warn that it appears the most extreme Palestinian activists will be headed for New Brunswick.
In response, Rabbi Esther Reed, Hillel’s assistant director, said the group has launched a yearlong pro-Israel campaign called "Israel Inspires."
"Because Rutgers will be the site of extremists, it makes ‘Israel Inspires’ so much more important," she said.