Dem Candidate Sue Altman Partnered With Anti-Israel Group Behind Rutgers University Encampment

Altman's group also organized a protest where hecklers allegedly yelled 'Jew!' at Jewish congressman

Sue Altman (Bennett Raglin/Getty Images)
May 3, 2024

During her time as the New Jersey Working Families Party's (NJWFP) state director, swing district candidate Sue Altman (D., N.J.) worked closely with one of the groups now organizing the anti-Israel encampment on Rutgers’s campus.

Under Altman’s direction, the NJWFP organized a December 2019 climate rally with Newark Water Coalition, a Newark, New Jersey-based water and social justice advocacy group. The water coalition is now a member of the newly formed Newark Solidarity Coalition, one of the organizations, alongside Rutgers Students for Justice in Palestine, behind the Rutgers University "Gaza Solidarity" encampment.

The Newark Solidarity Coalition was created April 30, one day before the encampment was established at Rutgers’s Newark affiliate campus. The coalition includes Rutgers Students for Justice in Palestine, New Jersey American Muslims for Palestine, the Rutgers Muslim Student Association, and the Newark Water Coalition, the Washington Free Beacon found after reviewing several joint posts on Instagram.

The solidarity coalition wrote in an introductory X post that the group is made up of "students, faculty, and community members" from Newark who hope to "create spaces for community discussions" about "colonial, capitalist, and white supremacist violence."

"Newark encampment starting today. We will not rest until our demands are met," the group added in a separate post. "Please join us in fighting for divestment from genocide and reinvestment into our communities."

The Newark Water Coalition and Newark Solidarity Coalition shared a Wednesday video on Instagram from the encampment featuring a speaker who said Rutgers’s "complicity" in "unimaginable" crimes by Israel is "intolerable."

The speaker concluded, "We are pitching tents in solidarity with them, and we will not leave until all our demands are met," and the crowd chanted, "Free Palestine."

"Their demands are not only that the university divest from Israel and cut all ties with the apartheid system, but also that the university reinvest in the Newark community," the Newark Water Coalition and the Newark Solidarity Coalition wrote in the post’s caption.

This comes as Altman attempts to unseat freshman congressman Tom Kean Jr. (R., N.J.) in her first bid for a federal seat.

Altman, a Columbia University alumna, has been noticeably silent on the campus chaos and anti-Semitism as more than 100 anti-Israel encampments have been established across the country. Kean recently called out Altman’s silence.

"There are Democrats in Congress who are willing to stand up to the pure hatred we are seeing on college campuses. @SueAltman will never be one of those Democrats," Kean wrote last Monday. "Her silence shows us that appeasing the radical left will always be her priority."

The New Jersey hopeful has been linked to allegedly anti-Semitic protests in the past.

In 2021, Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer (N.J.) said he was greeted by approximately 100 anti-Semitic hecklers from a NJWFP protest who yelled "Jew" at the pro-Israel, "Squad"-critical Jewish congressman, the New York Post reported at the time.

​​"They were going from store to store protesting and as we were going into the bakery someone from the crowd derisively screamed ‘Jew!'" Gottheimer said. He noted that Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo had also heard the remark. "She couldn’t believe it. I remember looking at her," Gottheimer said.

Raimondo confirmed that she’d also witnessed the anti-Semitic slur. "Anti-Semitism is wrong, reprehensible, and unacceptable. I join congressman Gottheimer in condemning these hateful attacks that have absolutely no place in our politics," she said.

Altman said the NJWFP had "reviewed footage" from the protest and found "no sign" of the anti-Semitic outburst.

"There is no place for anti-Semitism at WFP, and to be clear, if that ever happened at a WFP event, the person would have been rebuked instantly and asked to leave," Altman said. "We have reviewed video footage from our protests and interviewed many, many participants in them, including Jewish WFP members. All the footage has been made available to the press. We found no sign of such an outburst. No one we spoke to witnessed any anti-Semitic speech, and most volunteered that they’d have shut down such behavior immediately."

During her time leading the NJWFP, Altman championed progressive causes that she is no longer mentioning on the campaign trail.

For example, Altman in 2020 wanted immigrants to receive taxpayer-funded COVID relief funds. Now, Altman calls the border a "crisis" and blames Republicans for the problem which has exploded during President Joe Biden’s administration.

"One of the biggest problems with the federal budget and the state budget is that immigrants have been cut out. Immigrants or undocumented people who were paying taxes as workers since, you know, they started working here in the United States or in New Jersey aren’t getting any aid or any relief from these deals that are going to other folks. These people are the backbone of our economy."

Altman also enthusiastically advocated for reparations during her years working with the NJWFP. A Free Beacon review, however, found that she hasn’t mentioned the policy since launching her candidacy in May 2023.

"ALL white people in NJ and across the country have benefitted from slavery's long long legacy. NJ must pass the Reparations Task Force Bill," NJWFP wrote in March 2021.

Altman herself also backed the policy at the time, calling for a statewide reparations task force.

Altman, who did not return a request for comment, is the presumptive Democratic nominee for New Jersey’s Seventh Congressional District and will likely face off against former New Jersey governor Tom Kean’s (R.) son in November.