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October 6, 2021 12:08 pm
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UNC and Duke Spread More Anti-Israel Hatred

avatar by Peter Reitzes

Opinion

South Building at the University of North Carolina. Photo Credit: Wikimedia.

The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (UNC) has seemingly endorsed the view that Israel is the cause of all violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A slide on UNC’s website states, “Today, the Golan Heights, Gaza, and the West Bank are all areas under Israeli occupation. As a result of the occupation, Israel, and the Palestine National Authority, the official government of Palestine, have been in constant violent conflict since the end of the 1967 war.”

By allowing this material to be posted on its website, UNC is promoting the view that Israel is the sole cause of violence in the conflict.

There is no mention of the thousands of rockets, mortars, and waves of suicide killers launched at Israel by Palestinian terrorist organizations to indiscriminately murder Israeli citizens. There’s no mention that the Palestinian people democratically elected Hamas — a terrorist organization — to power. There is no discussion of the Palestinian leadership’s repeated rejection of statehood and invitations to peace talks.

Another slide on the UNC website continues: “Since Israel and Palestine are currently nations in conflict, and Israel is using water as a tool of domination, water can be described, in this situation, as a weapon, inciting further conflict.”

UNC presents this inflammatory anti-Israel material, written by students, and declares it “a teaching tool in order to spread awareness.”

Apparently, UNC endorses — and UNC students are internalizing — a one-sided demonization of Israel.

I happened upon this “teaching tool” because the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies recommends it on their “Resource Links” web page, describing it as “useful for studying the Middle East and North Africa.”

Let’s take a closer look.

The Consortium offers an entire section on “Islam,” with more than 25 recommended resources. Oddly, there are no corresponding sections on Christianity and Judaism.

There is an entire section on “Arab Refugees.” There is no section on Jewish Refugees, such as the 850,000 Jewish refugees who were forced to leave Arab countries and Iran.

There is no section on Christian Refugees. According to National Public Radio, in recent years, thousands of Iraqi Christians have been killed, and thousands have fled the country, because they are “threatened by genocide.”

The Consortium website contains a section on “Arab Americans,” but lacks corresponding entries for Jewish Americans and other religious minorities.

In the “Culture and Arts” section, the Consortium recommends five resources which all focus on Arab and Muslim culture. No resources on Jewish culture and art are included.

The Duke-UNC resource page recommends five “contemporary news” sites “for studying the Middle East and North Africa,” including Al Jazeera English and Jadaliyya. 

Jadaliyya is a pro-Palestinian advocacy organization and publishing outlet that glorifies terrorism and promotes the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. Al Jazeera is state funded by Qatar and has repeatedly published blatantly antisemitic content.

Five of the six Executive Committee members of the Consortium signed a 2021 “Statement on Palestine from North Carolina Academics,” stating, “We acknowledge our complicity in Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians … [and we] reject the prevalent ‘two-sides’ narrative.” They are are Michael Figueroa, Caroline Robinson, and Claudia Yaghoobi from UNC, and Didem Havlioglu and Rebecca Stein from Duke. According to the UNC student newspaper, Stein helped organize the statement. Duke Campus Director of the Consortium, Ellen McLarney, signed as well.

In addition, in 2021 Stein and McLarney both pledged their commitment to promote BDS “in the classroom and on campus.”

This is the same UNC/Duke Consortium that co-sponsored the 2019 “Conflict Over Gaza” conference that made international news for featuring a rapper’s antisemitic performance.

Following this scandalous conference, in 2019, the Office of the General Consul of the US Department of Education (DOE) sent a scathing letter to the Consortium, stating:

The Duke-UNC CMES [Consortium] appears to lack balance as it offers very few, if any, programs focused on the historic discrimination faced by, and current circumstances of, religious minorities in the Middle East, including Christians, Jews, Baha’is, Yadizis, Kurds, Druze, and others. Also, in your activities for elementary and secondary students and teachers, there is a considerable emphasis placed on the understanding the positive aspects of Islam, while there is an absolute absence of any similar focus on the positive aspects of Christianity, Judaism, or any other religion or belief system in the Middle East.

The 2019 letter continued, “This lack of balance of perspectives is troubling and strongly suggests that Duke-UNC CMES is not meeting legal requirement that National Resource Centers ‘provide a full understanding of the areas, regions, or countries’ in which the modern foreign language taught is commonly used.”

As a result of complaints filed with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) stemming from this conference, UNC and Duke each signed Resolutions agreements OCR. Yet, the Duke-UNC Consortium website — two years later — still lacks balance and still neglects religious minorities in the Middle East. And UNC is currently offering a course on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict taught by Kylie Broderick, a graduate student, who promotes the view that Israel should not exist, and declares, “I don’t ever want to encourage them [students] to believe there is reason to take on good faith the oppressive ideologies of … Zionists.”

The evidence is clear: Despite signing Resolution Agreements with the US Office of Civil Rights, UNC and Duke remain committed to offering students an unbalanced, pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel, one-sided view of the conflict.

Peter Reitzes is a board member of Voice4Israel of North Carolina and writes about issues related to antisemitism and Israel.

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