Palestinian rapper Tamer Nafar performance sets off firestorm of controversy.
Last month, the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill held a conference on its campus called “Conflict over Gaza: People, Politics, and Possibilities.” According to its website, it:
…will shed much needed light on the current realities in the Gaza Strip, giving participants a deeper understanding of the context of these realities and offering concrete options that can better the lives of Gazans. The conference also highlights Gazan culture–music, films, food, and art–to showcase the beauty that goes along with the challenges of life in the Gaza Strip.
This was the conference’s agenda:
The News and Observer detailed the anti-Semitism in Nafar’s performance (emphasis mine):
In edited clips from his performance, posted online by Horowitz, Nafar says on stage: “This is my anti-Semitic song. … I know it sounds R&B stuff, but don’t think of Rihanna when you sing it. Think of, don’t think of Beyoncé, think of Mel Gibson. Go that anti-Semitic. … Let’s try it together. I need your help. I can’t be anti-Semitic alone. … Oh, I’m in love with a Jew. … You look beautifully anti-Semitic.”
Horowitz also conducted hidden-microphone interviews with attendees, which he included in his video. A student who attended the event told The Daily Tar Heel that Horowitz approached him under false pretenses, using the name “Sam.”
“When he said, ‘This is my anti-Semitic song,’ I think he was alluding to that, like, if you criticize Israel, people are going to call you an anti-Semite. That’s how I perceived it as a Palestinian,” UNC junior Fouad Abu-Hijleh told The Daily Tar Heel. “Now obviously for an American audience, I don’t know if that translated well or if that carried its meaning.”
The full song “Mama, I Fell in Love with a Jew” and music video tell a story about a Palestinian man and a female Israeli soldier who meet on an elevator. The video ends with their families fighting at a wedding and is embedded with references to how Palestinians, from the singer’s point of view, are treated poorly or get less in the Middle East.
Responses From Schools, Congress
Both UNC and Duke, which co-sponsored the conference, responded:
JUST IN: @UNC Chancellor @KevinGuskiewicz offers fresh response to @ABC11_WTVD story w/ video of anti-Semitism on campus. “I am heartbroken and deeply offended that this performance happened.” @AmiHorowitz @TimesofIsrael @JTAnews @StandWithUs Full story: https://t.co/WzzlAZRWU7 pic.twitter.com/AZRznv2piM
— Jonah Kaplan (@KaplanABC11) April 12, 2019
Congressman George Holding of North Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District has called for an investigation into the “Conflict Over Gaza” Conference held at UNC Chapel Hill in March 2019. Videos continue to surface from the taxpayer-funded conference that showed anti-Semitic rhetoric from a performer at the event and anti-Semitic materials in UNC’s Davis Library. From The News & Observer:
“A North Carolina congressman called Monday for a federal investigation into a Middle East conference co-sponsored by Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill and suggested federal grant money could be pulled from the two universities’ Consortium for Middle East Studies.
Rep. George Holding, a Raleigh Republican, wrote a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos asking her department to investigate the “Conflict Over Gaza: People, Politics, and Possibilities” conference held March 22-24 at UNC, claiming that he has seen “reports of severe anti-Israeli bias and anti-Semitic rhetoric at a taxpayer-funded conference.”
Today, Representative Ted Budd tweeted this letter he wrote to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos:
Not a DIME of taxpayer money should be going towards anti-Semitic “academic” conferences. Here’s the letter I sent to the Department of Education urging an investigation. pic.twitter.com/yqngbc98J6
— Ted Budd (@RepTedBudd) April 17, 2019
We have started to see some additional backlash in response to the anti-Semitism spewed at the conference. A webpage named a number of other sponsors of the conference. If you go there now, you get this error message:
JUST IN: @UNC confirms to @ABC11_WTVD some among 27 co-sponsors of controversial #Gaza conference “requested a refund of their funds.” Total cost of event – $46,110, incl. $5K from federal grant. @AmiHorowitz @unchillel @JTAnews @RepHolding @GloriaABC11 https://t.co/9ixQgtPB17
— Jonah Kaplan (@KaplanABC11) April 16, 2019
He also tweeted some internal UNC emails that show a lot of blame and finger-pointing:
@ABC11_WTVD EXCLUSIVE: Internal emails show @unc_law & @uncsog deans blasting @UNC_Global for “clear, anti-Semitic programming” at #Gaza conference; demand apologies & return of sponsorship money. https://t.co/9ixQgtPB17 @ABC @AmiHorowitz @GloriaABC11 @JTAnews @TimesofIsrael pic.twitter.com/oQqPYCOfBc
— Jonah Kaplan (@KaplanABC11) April 16, 2019
Between the sponsors, the internal investigations, and now the Congressional inquiries, there is obviously a lot to learn and discuss. But don’t expect much news from inside the Raleigh/Durham media market, or the national MSM as a whole. As I noted in a tweet the other day, only one local TV station covered Nafar’s disgusting anti-Semitism:
— Cameron Gray (@Cameron_Gray) April 15, 2019
It only became more of a story after the Congressmen started asking questions. How sad that that’s what it takes to get coverage of anti-Semitism on American college campuses, an ever-growing cancer that rarely gets exposed to sunlight.
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