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How Donor Dollars And Foreign Influence Animate Campus Anti-Israel Activism

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Pro-Hamas messages reading “Glory to the martyrs,” “Divestment from Zionist genocide now,” and “Free Palestine from the river to the sea” were recently projected onto the exterior of George Washington University’s Gelman Library. GW has since issued a statement disavowing the messages, saying the projections “violated university policy” and that “the statements made by these individuals in no way reflect the views of the university.”

Similarly, earlier this month, several Harvard students publicly declared their support for Hamas, blaming Israel for the Oct. 7 massacre. Student groups across the country followed, putting the university system’s tolerance of antisemitism on full display. Harvard leadership would issue a statement of condemnation seven days after the initial student letter.

Reporting from Capital Research Center (CRC) suggests that Harvard, “which took in $625 million in federal funding in FY21, and a little over $500 million in donations and $500 million in cash gifts to their endowment in FY22 was “initially neutral” toward Hamas’ attack and that the “mandatory student activity fee of $200/year at Harvard that helps fund the existence of student groups” subsidizes the activities of these pro-Hamas student organizations.

Meanwhile, universities across the country have become “hotbeds” for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement and other anti-Israel activism.

In a separate report, CRC Investigative Researcher Ryan Mauro noted, “Of particular concern was the BDS movement’s links to a mysterious ‘Mapping Project‘ that published an apparent hit list of targets linked to the U.S. government, Israel, and the Jewish community.”

“The common denominator among the groups that appear closest to the Mapping Project is support for the Iran-backed PFLP terrorist group,” CRC added. “The Mapping Project is part of a larger problem, though. The BDS movement, while portraying itself as nonviolent activism for human rights, is intertwined with terrorist organizations backed by Iran who seek the genocidal elimination of Israel. BDS is not a nonviolent alternative to terrorism, but a weapon deployed by terrorists to augment their violent campaigns.”

The activism of such student groups and supporting faculty frequently draws attention from foreign donors. Countries like Qatar, which harbors the financiers of Islamic terror, aim to invest in their values. The Free Press reported that “the biggest recipients of Qatari largesse, though, have been major universities and think tanks.” A study from the National Association of Scholars found that “between 2001 and 2021, the petrostate donated a whopping $4.7 billion to U.S. colleges.”

Prominent American donors have begun pulling funding from universities, and influential board members are resigning their posts amid the uptick in antisemitic displays. Egregious speech, although protected, comes with the consequences we are seeing.

“Until we know for sure, Americans are going to have to come to terms with the fact that some of our most valued institutions — the charitable and academic sectors, specifically — may not be using our money to protect our values,” CRC wrote. “And we’re going to have to get a lot smarter about how we spend.”

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