December 10, 2019

UNC-Duke Mideast Studies Consortium Condemns Conference Anti-Semitism

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The University of North Carolina (UNC)-Duke University Consortium for Middle East Studies condemned anti-Semitism that occurred at a recent anti-Israel conference hosted by the consortium.

The March 22-24 conference, titled Conflict Over Gaza: People, Politics and Possibilities, featured rapper Tamer Nafer singing “I’m in love with a Jew” at the conference, telling the audience to think of it as “Mel Gibson” instead of “Beyonce or Rihanna.”

The consortium said, in an April 18, statement that they reject “anti-Semitism and all forms of racism and bias” and called Nafer’s performance “inexcusable.”

“We apologize for the hurt his comments have caused and we are saddened that this scholarly event was marred by association with anti-Semitism,” the statement read. “We as a Consortium join the leaders of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University in reaffirming our commitment to educational opportunities free of all forms of hate.”

Rep. George Holding (R-Ga.) sent an inquiry on April 15 to the Department of Education regarding their $235,000 grant to the consortium; a spokesperson from the consortium told the Journal that $5,000 from that grant went toward the conference.

UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said in an April 12 statement that he was “heartbroken and deeply offended” over Nafer’s performance.

“I stand steadfast against anti-Semitism and hate in all its forms,” Guskiewicz said. “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.”