Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
“This is my anti-Semitic song,” Tamer Nafar declared.
The setting was the UNC-Chapel Hill. And this was the moment that, “Conflict over Gaza: People, Politics, and Possibilities”, a conference of UNC and Duke University’s notoriously pro-terrorist Middle East departments went, beyond its expected implicit anti-Semitism to explicit anti-Semitism.
The Gaza conference, with a roster of speakers from anti-Israel groups, at least one of which has been accused of funneling money to Hamas institutions, was true to form. The BDS speaker disagreed only over how much to boycott Israel. The conference was full of posters glamorizing violence. And the books on sale were even more explicit in their defense of anti-Semitic Islamic terrorism against Jews.
A journalist for The Tower picked up a copy of “Hamas: A Beginner’s Guide” and read its claim that, “Intrinsically and religiously Hamas could not be anti-Jewish.”
But Nafar’s “anti-Semitic song” was the moment that put the Gaza conference on the map of hate.
UNC Chapel Hill and Duke’s Middle East Studies departments were already notoriously hives of hatred. In February, UNC’s Center for Middle East and Islamic Studies brought in Linda Sarsour, who has frequently clashed with the Jewish community and is a supporter of the anti-Semitic Nation of Islam leader, to speak. In April, Duke’s Israel Apartheid Week had featured support for the PFLP, an anti-Semitic terrorist group responsible for the murders of Jews, and calls for the destruction of Israel.
And Steven Salaita, who had declared that, Zionism was “transforming anti-Semitism from something horrible into something honorable”, had spoken at UNC Chapel Hill.
When Amcha Initiative, a Jewish civil rights group, published a list of Anti-Israel profs, Duke and UNC both won four places each on the list. UNC and Duke’s hate was funded by $235,000 in grant money from the Department of Education.
Jonah Kaplan, a journalist with ABC-11, reported that $5,000 or over 10% for the Gaza conference, with its anti-Semitic song, support for BDS and glamorization of terrorism, came from a federal grant.
“Let’s try it together,” Nafar urged his audience. “I need your help. I cannot be anti-Semitic alone.”
Nafar was right. He couldn’t be anti-Semitic alone. The taxpayers, local, state and national, had to help.
Anti-Semitic poetry and hip-hop are a common feature of anti-Israel campus events. But this one was caught on video. UNC Global initially launched a defense of the conference and claimed that the video had been taken out of context, but before long it, UNC Chapel Hill and Duke, were on the defensive.
UNC Interim Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz admitted that the rhetoric was “disturbing and hateful”.
But while UNC and Duke leaders have condemned anti-Semitism, and some department heads that sponsored the conference are asking for their money back, a largely symbolic gesture, there has been no meaningful action to ensure that the hate at UNC Chapel Hill and Duke will finally stop.
That’s why Rep. George Holding is actually standing up and demanding action and accountability.
The Georgia congressman wrote a letter to Secretary of Education Betsy Devos saying, “I have difficulty understanding why tax dollars should be spent on such an activity.”
“It’s school-sponsored anti-Semitism in the fact that it received so much federal money and it received the support of so many prominent academic departments ” Sam Zahn, a Jewish undergraduate, said.
As various organizations, including UNC departments and the Rotary Club, examine their funding, Rep. Holding is urging the Department of Education to examine why it helped fund anti-Semitism at UNC.
Among the questions that Rep. Holding is asking the Department of Education to answer is whether the Gaza conference glorified violence, as The Tower report suggests it did, whether it endorsed BDS, again the report shows it did, whether any part of the DOE grant helped make the conference happen, and whether the hateful conference could serve as grounds for revoking the grant to Duke-UNC.
ADL boss Jonathan Greenblatt’s Twitter feed is full of denunciations of Islamophobia, but he never bothered to tweet about actual anti-Semitism caught on tape. Let alone demand action.
But Rep. Holding is doing just that. His letter is a powerful reminder that on radical campuses, the only meaningful form of accountability comes from the power of the purse. Universities across the country have not only become incubators of hate, but their bigotry is financed by the taxpayers they victimize.
“Conflict over Gaza” had a number of sponsors, from the Rotary Club to other UNC departments, that are hurriedly fleeing the fallout. UNC Global admitted that, “the center is in conversation with co-sponsors who have requested a return of their funds and the center is working directly with them.”
The co-sponsors page for the Gaza conference has been taken down as no sponsors want to be associated with it. Even UNC’s School of Government and School of Law have demanded refunds.
UNC School of Law Dean Martin Brinkley blasted the UNC Center for Middle East and Islamic Studies, and demanded the department’s money back, complaining, “I have been forced to spend most of the last two days responding to outraged members of my own community who are ashamed and embarrassed to see the law school shown as a sponsor of what they consider hate speech.”
UNC School of Government Dean Mike Smith also demanded the department’s money back, writing, “It simply is wrong to defend this explicitly anti-Semitic performance under the cloak of academic freedom. It crossed a bright line and you should have the integrity to reject it and take responsibility for it.”
The financial cost of the anti-Semitic Gaza conference may be hard to calculate. Earlier this year, in response to Linda Sarsour’s appearance, there had been messages such as, “I’m an alum of UNC. No more donations from me if you allow this Jew hater to speak.” Now the hatred is even more unambiguous. And the Middle East Consortium has inflicted real and lasting harm on UNC.
As anti-Israel activists have embraced BDS, it’s being met with its own form of BDS with alumni divesting from hateful campuses. Rep. Holding’s letter is a welcome move that ought to be emulated by more Republicans when dealing not only with anti-Semitism, but other forms of ‘approved hate’ on campus.
Despite engaging in Pelosi-esque condemnations of the general problem of anti-Semitism, neither UNC nor Duke have condemned the specific department, the personnel responsible, or Nafar, the rapper, by name. They have shown no sign of putting procedures in place to prevent a recurrence of the problem.
Not unless they are forced to.
How deeply rooted is the problem of anti-Semitism at UNC?
UNC comparative lit prof Elyse Crystall, who also serves as the faculty adviser for the notorious campus hate group, Students for Justice in Palestine, led the defense of Nafar’s anti-Semitism.
“I don’t think he was being anti-Semitic. I think he was satirizing our own stereotypes of Palestinians,” Crystall claimed.
The radical anti-Israel academic had her own brush with anti-Semitism when she sent out an email about a Jewish candidate, writing, “Her resume/bio includes mention of her being active in Beth El synagogue. A red flag for me.”
But not a red flag for UNC.
In the days to come, UNC will try to distance itself from Nafar, but before all this, the conference claimed that he was the “world’s first Palestinian rapper” and billed him as the “spokesman of a new generation.”
Like so much of the Gaza conference, that was a series of lies.
Not only isn’t there a “Palestine”, but Nafar grew up and lives in the Israeli town of Lod. Even if there were a Palestine and even if Nafar lived there, the first “Palestinian” rapper was actually Massiv.
Nafar has so little “Palestinian” cred that he just released a song urging fellow Israeli Arabs to vote in its election to take out Netanyahu. That’s because the “first Palestinian rapper” is actually living in a 70% Jewish city halfway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Despite all his “Palestinian” rhetoric, Arab labels wouldn’t distribute him because Nafar’s family holds Israeli ID cards making them “traitors”.
Nafar was discovered by an Israeli rapper named Subliminal who let him perform at his club. Then Nafar turned on him and, at some point, discovered the lucrative college circuit. That brought him to UNC.
The anti-Israel college circuit has featured terrorist-supporters, Holocaust-deniers, and anti-Semitic rappers before. But the video of Nafar’s anti-Semitic song is raising the question of whether taxpayers should be footing the bill. That’s the question that Rep. Holding is asking. It’s one that more Republicans should be asking. Campus hate won’t end with letters or petitions. It won’t end with outrage.
It will only end when colleges are held financially accountable.