Pro-Palestinian demonstration at UCLA

Tuition of terror: Qatari money flowed into U.S. universities - and now it's fueling violence

Since the 9/11 attacks, Qatar has become the largest foreign donor to American academia, which has not always bothered to reveal the source. A study by the Institute for Anti-Semitism Studies found a direct link between the amount of donations and the presence of pro-Palestinian groups on campuses

Until three weeks ago, this issue was of no particular interest to anyone. The money flowed through the usual channels, under the surface without any hindrance. We’re not talking about the flow of Qatari money to the Gaza Strip, but to another, less predictable destination - American academia.
According to a study published in 2022 by the National Association of Academics in the United States, a study that did not cause too much noise at the time, in the period between 2001 and 2021, precisely after the September 11 attacks, the Qataris donated a whopping $4.7 billion to universities in the United States. The recipients, however, did not report part of the money received, as required by law.
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הפגנה פרו פלסטינית ב אוניברסיטת UCLA
הפגנה פרו פלסטינית ב אוניברסיטת UCLA
Pro-Palestinian demonstration at UCLA
(Photo: Frederic J. BROWN / AFP)
An event that was waiting for the right moment
In fact, Qatar has become the largest foreign donor to American academia in the two decades since 9/11. What has been going on since the outbreak of the war on the campuses of the prestigious American universities, is a multi-participant event that was organized in advance and waited for the right moment. This moment came after the massacre of October 7.
Some of the incidents that happened in the United States in the last few days will testify to this. At serene Amherst University in Massachusetts, 57 anti-Israel students were arrested after rioting and taking over the administration building. At Tulane in New Orleans, arrests were made following a fight that broke out between Jewish students and a pro-Palestinian group. The fight began after pro-Palestinian demonstrators who were traveling in a truck (reminiscent of the ones used by Hamas terrorists who invaded Israel) began not just waving the Palestinian flag, but burning the Israeli one.
In a surreal scene at the small private college Cooper Union in New York City's East Village, the administration decided to lock the Jewish students in its library to protect them from an angry mob of pro-Palestinian protesters who were banging on the doors and windows after they burst through the campus security guards. At George Washington University, one of the students projected anti-Semitic messages on the library wall - "Free Palestine from the river to the sea" and "Glory to our martyrs". In the weeks since the October 7 attacks by Hamas in Israel, more Jewish and Israeli students across the United States have said that they fear for their safety in the face of the culture of anti-Semitic demonstrations and events, which are becoming increasingly violent.
In the last week, it seems that the universities themselves are beginning to understand that these events have gone beyond the boundaries of the progressive concept that flourishes on campuses. Historically, universities are homes to free speech and critical thinking, but the speed with which the demonstrations are organized, and the availability of resources for them, raise questions like those that have arisen in recent days in London, in the face of huge demonstrations with huge quantities of Palestinian flags that were quickly distributed to the many participants. Without realizing it, or realizing but thinking that these were harmless youthful demonstrations, it seems that elite universities have become hotbeds of anti-Semitism.
In the United States, it was believed that deepening the cooperation with Qatar and receiving donations to establish branches of prestigious American universities were another way to expand its soft power, but in practice, it became the opposite. Through its vast capital, Qatar is paving the way for the deepening influence of its shadows over more and more fields and geographical areas. The American universities that received the most significant funding from the Qataris, including Cornell, Georgetown, Northwestern, and Carnegie Mellon, established branches in Doha, the capital of Qatar. Cornell, which belongs to the American Ivy League, opened a medical school for $1.8 billion, Georgetown received $750 million for a school of government and Northwestern established a journalism school for which it received $600 million in 2007.
Apparently, this is not an unusual event in the era of globalization of the last decade, since the Technion also received a donation from the Chinese billionaire Li Ka-shing to establish a branch there. But in the Qatari case, the decisive share of the donations comes from the Qatar Foundation, a non-profit organization established by the government in 1995 to promote education and science in the country.
Against this background, the best academic institutions were also forced to make "adjustments" in their branches established in the so-called "Education City" on the outskirts of Doha, such as removing some of the too-liberal books from the reading list or signing a cooperation agreement between Northwestern's journalism school and controversial media outlets like Al Jazeera, which acts as a mouthpiece for Hamas.
An examination conducted back in 2020 by ISGAP, The Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy, of which Elie Wiesel served as Honorary President, revealed disturbing findings. The study found a direct connection between the amount of donations from Qatar and other Persian Gulf countries and the presence of pro-Palestinian groups that today feature on college campuses, led by SJP (Students for Justice in Palestine. In some universities, SJP groups organized demonstrations and days of rage immediately on October 8, even before Israel began carrying out significant operations in Gaza.
Even Claudine Gay, the president of Harvard who was the first to be caught in the eye of the storm, already understands that things are out of control. She spoke at a Shabbat dinner at the university’s Hillel, where, contrary to her hesitant words the week prior, she was much more decisive. After quoting from the Bible, Gay openly admitted that "for too long, Harvard has done too little to deal with the continuing presence of anti-Semitism, which has a long and shameful history with us." Gay announced the formation of a group of consultants that would formulate recommendations on how to handle the events.
Many would prefer to return to Israel
Anti-Semitic sentiments are indeed nothing new in prestigious American universities, and the very existence of Brandeis University, which was established as the "Jewish Harvard" at a time when it was difficult for Jews to be admitted there, is the best evidence of this. However, in recent weeks, the current is too strong and the damage is deep. This was even before a series of mostly Jewish business people announced a halt to donations and warned that their companies will not hire university graduates who facilitate violent demonstrations against Israel.
In addition to losing financial support, there is something else that is undoubtedly starting to worry the presidents of the universities. In all of them, there is a large presence of Jewish and Israeli lecturers and doctoral students. These are considered the best minds, especially in science and medicine, and not only the American universities are competing for them, but also academic institutions in Israel that would love to have them. In the current reality, it is not impossible that many would now prefer to return to Israel after the war, even at the cost of less favorable economic conditions. This might be the best revenge for the anti-Semitic currents, the possibility that future Nobel Prizes, which the Jewish population in general and the Israeli population, in particular, hold a weight disproportionate to their size, will be registered in the name of Israel instead of the United States.