Rutgers prof who called Judaism ‘most racist religion in the world’ on Facebook disciplined
NEW BRUNSWICK — A Rutgers professor who earlier this fall said his social media accounts were hacked after allegedly sharing anti-Semitic posts on social media has been disciplined by the University, with the potential of more to come.
According to a letter from university president Robert Barchi and Chancellor Deba Dutta, Professor Michael Chikindas has been removed from his position as director of the Center for Digestive Health at the Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health, and removed from teaching all required courses at the university.
The letter said the action was taken after Chikindas "was found to have posted extensive bigoted, discriminatory, and anti-Semitic material on social media." At the time the posting came to light Chikindas maintained he did not see himself as being anti-Semitic, but said that Zionism, the movement that resulted in a Israel being established as a Jewish state, was racist."
Chikindas said at the time that he could not "say with confidence that everything on my page was shared by me."
"Should I know that sharing these freely available pictures questioning Zionism on possible racist actions can be seen as antisemitic, I would never do it," he said in an email to New Jersey 101.5 in October. "I strictly separate Antisemitism from intolerance to Zionism."
Despite Chikindas' assertions that he was not responsible for all of the posts, the letter to Rutgers faculty said the actions taken were done after a thorough investigation.
"This material perpetuated toxic stereotypes and was deeply upsetting to Jewish students, faculty, and staff across our community," the letter said. "The fears and concerns they have expressed to us and many university leaders are both justified and understandable."
The posts came to light after they were shared by the blog Israellycool. The site, which describes itself as “one of Israel’s largest English-blogs” published screenshots of Chikindas’ Facebook page, does not currently appear to be publicly available.
The Algemeiner, which describes itself as “the fastest growing Jewish newspaper in America,” also quoted Chikindas calling Judaism “the most racist religion in the world,” and calling Israel a “terrorist country.” It linked to Facebook posts that no longer appear available.
In one of the screenshots of a post Chikindas says the “jewish mother****** do not control me.”
“They can go f*** each other in their fat arses — you see, I do not have anything to loose, hence nothing to be controlled,” he wrote.
The letter from Barchi said a "fundamental expectation of a university is to provide an environment in which students can learn, discover their passions, and do research free from fears of discrimination, harassment, or disruption." The letter said the posts by Chikindas "threatened the trust between professors and students that is a prerequisite to learning."
At the time of the posts the Rutgers Jewish Faculty Forum condemned the posts attributed to Chikindas, and said his statements "propagate conspiracy theories that are flagrantly and demonstrably false and damage our society as a whole."
"His posts present vile caricatures of Jews that have a nefarious history as instruments for the incitement of violence," the statement said. "In dehumanizing others, Chikindas undermines the University's mission of promoting tolerance, openness, diversity of opinion, and reasoned discourse."
In addition to the discipline already announced Chikindas will be required to take part in a "cultural sensitivity training program, and will be subject to ongoing monitoring if and when he returns to the classroom." The letter also says that Chikindas will be subject to further disciplinary action "through procedures required by Appendix H of the collective bargaining agreement with our faculty union."
Appendix H, according to documents provided by the school, says a "faculty member of the bargaining unit may be suspended at less than full pay for a period of up to one semester."
Chikindas did not respond to emails or phone calls seeking comment on the actions taken by Rutgers.
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Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-359-5326 or Adam.Hochron@townsquaremedia.com