UNC Defends/Apologizes for Anti-Semitic Gaza Event

Too little, too late.

Anti-Israel university events routinely traffic in anti-Semitism. But in the last decade, there were efforts to dial down how explicitly anti-Semitic those events were in order to avoid having the whole thing end up on the internet. UNC's Gaza event screwed up. And Ami Horowitz was there.

 

In response to most of the anti-Semitic content, UNC initially played the "recording taken out of context" game. But the one rap song that explicitly celebrated anti-Semitism was not defensible. 

And so UNC had to backtrack.

"I cannot be anti-Semitic alone." 

That's the declaration captured on video of a performer at last month's Conflict Over Gaza conference, an event held at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and co-sponsored by several UNC entities and departments, including the Chancellor's Global Education Fund.

The conference, titled Conflict Over Gaza: People, Politics and Possibilities, was officially sponsored by the UNC Center for Middle East and Islamic Studies and the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies. The event's website lists more than 30 co-sponsorsranging from UNC School of Law to the Rotary Club of Raleigh. 

"Let's try it together," rapper Tamer Nafar tells the audience before his performance, inviting them to sing. "I need your help. I cannot be anti-Semitic alone." 

"Don't think of Rihanna when you sing this, don't think of Beyonce - think of Mel Gibson. I'm in love with a Jew/Oh/I fell in love with a Jew/Oh/Her skin is white and my skin is brown, she was going up up and I was going down." 

Initially UNC doubled down.

The UNC Global response tried to have it both ways, defending the high purpose of the conference, claiming the recordings were out of context, and then claiming academic freedom. And that it doesn't endorse the views of the speakers.

On Friday, UNC Interim Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz issued the following statement: A performance during a recent conference held on our campus contained disturbing and hateful language. Like many members of our community, I am heartbroken and deeply offended that this performance happened. I stand steadfast against Anti-Semitism and hate in all its forms. The Carolina spirit is not about hateful language that divides us, but about civil discourse that advances ideas and knowledge. We must continue to aspire together to that ideal. 

There's also a condemnation from Duke.

The question though is what are they planning to do to prevent similar ugly expressions of hate from recurring at future anti-Israel events? Will there be monitoring or vetting of any kind?

A failure to do so means that all the apologies are fake and meaningless.

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