ACLJ Files Records Request for Information Regarding Anti-Semitic Event Hosted by Taxpayer Supported University

JORDAN SEKULOW, ACLJ

It’s stunning to think a state university would allow an anti-Israel, anti-Semitic conference.

But it’s unconscionable that it would use tax dollars to do so, promoting the spirit of anti-Semitism at the expense of its Jewish students.

The ACLJ has just submitted a public records request for all information regarding the anti-Israel “Conflict over Gaza: People, Politics, and Possibilities” conference held on the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill campus.

In March of this year, UNC Chapel Hill hosted the Conflict over Gaza event which was organized by the joint Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies. According to complaints, the conference was little more than an anti-Israel rally for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement:

“Reportedly, speakers and panelists distorted facts and misrepresented the complex situation in Gaza. A video recently surfaced depicting the main musical performer, rapper Tamer Nafar, singing a brazenly anti-semitic song. Examination of the official program reveals that several of the conference’s speakers are actively involved in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.”

The BDS movement is inherently anti-Semitic and seeks to dismiss the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish State. BDS targets colleges, communities, businesses, and prominent institutions. The movement also has many links with members of terrorist organizations like Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The ACLJ detailed more of these links in this report.

As Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) recently said of the anti-Israel group:

“The BDS movement has not distanced itself from Hamas a designated foreign terrorist organization. BDS supporters individually are not distancing themselves from Hamas either . . . . Last Friday, Fati Hamad, a senior Hamas official called upon Palestinians worldwide to kill all Jews.”

We recently told you how the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan anti-BDS resolution, with House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY) saying BDS: “promotes a one-sided view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that seeks to marginalize Israel, that would deny the Jewish people the right of national self-determination.”

There is no place for such a movement on college campuses – especially not at the taxpayers’ expense. Yet according to the report, the Consortium also received a sizable federal grant to put on the conference:

The Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies applied for and received a $235,000 grant from the Department of Education. It also said that prior to the conference, local religious and community organizations expressed concern to the universities that the conference lacked balance. Holding said it appears the concerns were ignored.

As we stated in our Open Records Law Request to the University:

The conference in question, titled “Conflict over Gaza: People, Politics, and Possibilities,” was co-sponsored by the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies, which reportedly “applied for and received a $235,000 grant through the Department of Education in 2018.”

Several of the events held during the conference were organized by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a group that has been at the center of anti-Israel controversy on many U.S. campuses. SJP branches have been known to distribute anti-Semitic propaganda and has been cited by multiple watchdog groups for fostering unsafe environments for Jewish students.

Our request also cited a featured performance by Arab Israeli rapper Tamer Nafar. In a video taken during his set, Nafar introduces a song called “Mama, I Fell in Love with a Jew.”

Before singing, Nafar told the crowd: “This is my anti-Semitic song . . . I know it sounds like R&B stuff, but don’t think of Rihanna when you sing it. Don’t think of Beyonce . . . think of Mel Gibson. Go that anti-Semitic.”

In the video, Nafar brazenly encourages the crowd to sing along with him because “I cannot be anti-Semitic alone.”

This is what taxpayer money, was used to pay for? An event to spread the rhetoric of the anti-Israel BDS movement? It is unveiled, unfettered anti-Semitism on a state university campus. It’s completely unacceptable. And dangerous.

Several sponsors of the event have reportedly expressed disappointment in the anti-Israel event and have even demanded refunds of their sponsorship dollars, wanting to distance themselves from support for BDS.

Our records request has asked the University to provide the following:

  1. All records prepared, generated, forwarded, transmitted, sent, shared, saved, received, or reviewed by any ED official or employee that concern or in any way discuss Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) or any person acting in association with or on behalf of SJP.
  2. All records prepared, generated, forwarded, transmitted, sent, shared, saved, received, or reviewed by any government or university employee or agent that concern or in any way discuss the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement, or, its speakers, activists, events, curricula, papers, or messaging.
  3. All records prepared, generated, forwarded, transmitted, sent, shared, saved, received, or reviewed by any government or university employee that reference, regard, concern or in any way discuss The Conflict over Gaza conference, held at the University of North Carolina from March 22 to 24, 2019.
  4. All records prepared, generated, forwarded, transmitted, sent, shared, saved, received, or reviewed by any government or university employee that reference, regard, concern or in any way discuss performance by the Arab Israeli rapper Tamer Nafar The Conflict over Gaza conference, held at the University of North Carolina from March 22 to 24, 2019.
  5. All records prepared, generated, forwarded, transmitted, sent, shared, saved, received, or reviewed by any government or university employee that reference, regard, concern or in any way discuss Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies’s stance, position, views or activities or events that address Israel, Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) or Jewish people in any way.
  6. All records prepared, generated, forwarded, transmitted, sent, shared, saved, received, or reviewed by any government or university employee that reference, regard, concern or in any way discuss efforts to ensure that North Carolina universities or institutions of education do not host or promote racist conferences or events.
  7. All records prepared, generated, forwarded, transmitted, sent, shared, saved, received, or reviewed by any government or university employee that reference, regard, concern or in any way discuss the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement on or in relation to North Carolina college campuses.

We will find out whether the school or the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies knew the level of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment the conference they were sponsoring would be spreading. And if it endorsed creating such a hate-filled, discriminatory environment for Jewish students.

The UNC Chapel Hill website states part of its mission is “to enhance the quality of life for all people in the State.” What about the Jewish residents?

The school’s website also claims the University: “has charted a bold course of leading change to improve society and to help solve the world’s greatest problems” – except, as it seems based on its support of this conference, the scourge of anti-Semitism which is still a prevalent problem across the globe, including here at home.

We will continue to keep you updated on what our records demands turn up, as we continue to battle the dangerous and anti-Semitic BDS movement.


Used with the permission of the American Center for Law and Justice.


Jordan Sekulow is an attorney and host of Jay Sekulow Live! and Sekulow, the American Center for Law and Justice’s (ACLJ) weekly television broadcast. Mr. Sekulow has served as a liaison between the ACLJ and its international affiliates. In 2014, he was appointed a Visiting Fellow of Oxford University at Harris Manchester College and served as a member of the Summer Research Institute at Oxford from 2014-2016. Sekulow is a graduate of Regent University School of Law, where he served as co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Regent Journal of Law and Public Policy.