Anti-Semitic North Carolina conference to be investigated by Department of Education

A federally funded Mideast conference is being investigated after reports of open anti-Semitism on the part of participants such as Palestinian rapper Tamer Nafar.

By World Israel Staff and AP

A conference in March titled “Conflict Over Gaza: People, Politics, and Possibilities” co-sponsored by Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill will reportedly be the subject of a U.S. Department of Education investigation.

McClatchy D.C. reports that Raleigh Republican Rep. George Holding asked for an investigation in April, citing “reports of severe anti-Israeli bias and anti-Semitic rhetoric at the taxpayer-funded conference.”

A video of the event taken by filmmaker and activist Ami Horowitz showed a Palestinian rapper named Tamer Nafar performing an anti-Semitic song. Nafar began his performance by telling the audience that he “cannot be anti-Semitic alone.”

“I heard there was a conference going on about the conflict in Gaza, and my initial assumption was that it was going to be a hate fest against Israel,” Horowitz told ABC11. “When I went there, that is what I found, but what I did not expect was for it to evolve into open anti-Semitism.”

UNC says it used $5,000 in education department grants for the conference and will cooperate with the inquiry.

In April, Holding commented, “The Consortium for Middle East Studies, which co-sponsored the conference, applied for and received a federal grant through the Department of Education (DOE) worth $235,000.”

“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 Republican congressman added.

According to Holding, “Prior to the event, local religious and community organizations, academics and citizens wrote the universities expressing concern that the conference lacked balance and appeared designed to promote a radical agenda. Apparently, these concerns were ignored, with no mainstream speakers or panelists included in the three-day conference. If these reports are accurate, I have difficulty understanding why tax dollars should be spent on such an activity.”

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos tasked investigators with determining whether the spending complied with requirements.