Multi-year ISGAP research project “Follow the Money” encourages crackdown on foreign funding of major US universities including Harvard and Yale.
 
ISGAP commends the Department of Education for its response to data provided by ISGAP and others in connection with unreported foreign funding of certain US Universities, including both Harvard and Yale.
 
The ISGAP research project on Follow the Money, has for more than seven years assessed foreign funding of leading American universities by Middle Eastern autocratic regimes, foundations and affiliated corporations. As reported by major media outlets including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and BBC News, it appears, consistent with ISGAP research, that both Harvard and Yale did not identify and report donations and contracts with foreign governments of at least $375 million.
 
Several major news organizations have reported on these groundbreaking revelations, including:
 
Erica L. Green and Ellen Barry, New York Times
 
Kate O’Keeffe, Wall Street Journal
 
BBC News
 

ISGAP founder Dr. Charles Asher Small originally presented his team’s findings at a conference on antisemitism at the United States Department of Justice on July 15, 2019, attended by Attorney General William P. Barr, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Elan Carr, Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin and FBI Director Christopher A. Wray in July 2019.

A video of Dr. Small’s remarks can be found at https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4807852/charles-isgap-summit-talk.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Autocratic Middle Eastern regimes, oraganizations, foundations and affiliated private corporations, have funneled billions of dollars of unreported funding to American universities in order to demonize Israel on campus, research by the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy has found.

Conducted as part of ISGAP’s seven-year research program ‘Follow the Money,’ the research project was led by  Dr. Charles Asher Small, with Dr. Glen Feder an expert on the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States, and a top investigative accountant Michael Bass,  found that Federal reporting requirements and procedures have been inadequate at keeping track of funding coming in from abroad. This includes more than 3 billion dollars gifted by Qatar and the Gulf States, which were never reported by universities to the IRS or Department of Education. With the bulk of all Middle Eastern donations emanating from Qatari donors (75 percent), and the Qatar Foundation accounting for virtually all of the donations from Qatar, these funds significantly impact attitudes, antisemitic culture and BDS activities.

Our researcher found a direct correlation between the funding of universities by Qatar and the Gulf States with the presence of groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and a deteriorating environment that fosters an antisemitic and aggressive atmosphere.

ABOUT ISGAP

ISGAP was founded in 2004 as an interdisciplinary research center dedicated to the study of contemporary antisemitism. It is dedicated to creating an international perspective and presence, essential in a globalizing world and aims to create a vibrant space, within the classrooms of universities throughout the world, in which high caliber scholarship, discussion and debate can develop and be nurtured.

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Antisemitism has been on the rise at North American universities in recent years. From traditional forms of anti-Jewish sentiment on the political right to more modern forms of anti-Zionist activity promoted by progressives on the left who seek to delegitimize the Jewish people’s right to self-determination through advocacy for a wide-ranging boycott of the State of Israel (BDS), Jewish students have been made to feel increasingly unwelcome at institutions of higher learning.

Earlier this Summer, officials at the United States Department of Education started to investigate Georgetown, Texas A&M, Cornell, Yale, Harvard, Rutgers and other universities over unreported funding from the oil-rich Gulf kingdom of Qatar. Much of Qatar’s funding has gone to Texas A&M, Georgetown, Cornell, Carnegie Mellon, Northwestern and Virginia Commonwealth, all of which maintain campuses subsidized by the royal family-linked Qatar Foundation.

This is in accord with recent findings by ISGAP founder Dr. Charles Asher Small, with Senior Research Fellow Dr. Glen Feder and investigative accountant Michael Bass, who painstakingly pieced together a comprehensive picture of Middle Eastern funding of American universities as part of ISGAP’s Follow the Money Project.[1]

The research found that a number of autocratic Middle Eastern regimes funneled billions of dollars of unreported funding to US universities in order to create an atmosphere sympathetic to their efforts to demonize Israel on campus. According to the findings of the research , some of which were presented this July at a conference of contemporary antisemitism held at the Department of Justice, inadequate federal oversight procedures have failed to keep track of funding coming in from abroad and that more than $3 billion dollars gifted by Qatar and the Gulf States were never reported by universities to the IRS or Department of Education.

From 1986 to 2018, Middle East Muslim countries donated $6,566,462,768 to US universities, only $3,592,760,609 of which was reported to the federal government. Out of $4,955,969,671 donated by Qatar to various institutions, only $1,982,267,512 was properly reported.[2]

Charles Small, when presenting at the Department of Justice in July 2019 stated; “Given our lack of resources, if we can find approximately three billion dollars that is unaccounted for, imagine what is really going on,” said Small. “These ideologies are infiltrating into universities. Funds are coming from the campuses in Doha into the United States proper. This is an extraordinary finding. We believe that money that this research project discovered is the tip of an iceberg. We call for a proper investigation of American universities and the funders of hate that are permeating the most precious institution in our democracy: our education system.”

ISGAP’s findings have been borne out by statements by DOE officials themselves. Testifying before Congress earlier this year, Deputy Secretary Mitchell Zais stated that:

All degree-granting domestic institutions of higher education are covered under section 117 [of the Higher Education Act]. There are approximately 3,700 such eligible institutions in the United States but, based on recent reports the Department has received, fewer than three percent (3 percent) reported receiving foreign gifts or contracts.[3]

CONTEXT

Multiple experts who pointed out that “Gulf money, in recent years, has come to distort Washington’s conversations about the Middle East.”[4]  Gulf funding of universities and think-tanks, especially when such institutions are concerned about future revenue streams, can be a hedge against criticism of the government’s providing the funding. Many say a sort of taboo has developed against needlessly antagonizing Gulf states by criticizing them or by taking policy positions that those states consider red lines, for fear of upsetting a current donor or alienating a future donor. Even the money itself has become a taboo subject.

However, there is more to such funding than cultivating political influence. Our research has found a correlation between the funding of universities by Qatar and the Gulf States with the presence of groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and a deteriorating environment that fosters an antisemitic and aggressive atmosphere.

SJP, which is one of the key organizers of the annual Israel Apartheid Week event on college campuses across the country, has been described by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) as an organization whose members “regularly demonize Jewish students who identify as Zionists or proud supporters of the State of Israel” and insist that “one cannot be a good Jew while still being a Zionist.”[5]

With the bulk of all Middle Eastern donations emanating from Qatari donors, and the Qatar Foundation accounting for virtually all of the donations from Qatar, these funds significantly impact attitudes, antisemitic culture and BDS activities. While a direct causal link has yet to be established, the correlation is too significant to ignore, especially given the horrendous human rights records and state-sponsored extremism and antisemitism of the countries involves.  Research indicates other countries, including Iran, also engage in this sort of funding activities.

Behind the funding

It is important to understand the players behind the funding and their ideology. Qatar has long been an important source of funds for the Hamas Palestinian terror organization and has forged relationships with Islamist groups from the Muslim Brotherhood to the Taliban.[6] It maintains a western enclave known as Education City on the outskirts of its capital Doha, which is home to a number of satellite campuses of prominent American universities, such as Georgetown, Northwestern and Cornell.

According to ISGAP’s research, the universities that maintain a presence in Education City have failed to disclose the full amount of the funding they have received from the Qataris. We estimate that out of $4,879,315,375, only $1,905,613,216 have been reported.

Education City is funded by the Qatar Foundation, which maintains close ties to Muslim Brotherhood-linked theologian Yusuf al-Qaradawi. He holds a prominent position in Education City and his ideology emanates throughout — from the Al-Qaradawi Centre for Research and Modern Thought to the Sheikh Al-Qaradawi Scholarship and other similar programs. Al-Qaradawi is an extremist who has “called for the destruction of America and for the annihilation of the Jews.”[7]  He also calls for all “true believers” to finish the work of Hitler, i.e. to continue a Holocaust. 

According to Charles Asher Small and Glen Feder, al-Qaradawi is one of the most influential Sunni preachers in the world [and] has disseminated extremist ideas for many decades that form key parts of the ideological foundations for Salafi-jihadism, the proper name for the doctrine of violent Islamist militancy practiced by ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and similar groups. And Al-Qaradawi has had a regular perch to preach these ideas on Qatar’s state-controlled Al-Jazeera satellite channel.

Universities in the United States must fully disclose the extent of the funding they have accepted.  It is especially concerning that racist, extremist and antisemitic groups whose basic values contradict an open and liberal academic institution is meant to represent.

——

For inquiries and to arrange interviews with Charles Small, please contact Ira Guberman, ISGAP Manager of Programming & Operations, at [email protected]

[1] The research project started due to the existence of networks of influence at Yale University, which impacted on programming.   For example, ISGAP research ascertained that more than 20 million dollars of funding to Yale University was not reported to the Department of Education or to the IRS.

[2] Data extracted from consolidated DOE reports issued from 04.05.2013 to 03.07 2019, covering all reporting by colleges to DOE from 1998 to 12.31.2018

[3] https://www.hsgac.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/2019-02-28%20Zais%20Testimony%20-%20PSI.pdf

[4] Max Fisher, “How Saudi Arabia captured Washington,” Vox, March 21, 2016

[5] https://www.adl.org/education/resources/profiles/students-justice-palestine

[6] https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/FP_20190408_qatar_roberts.pdf

[7] https://www.memri.org/image/IA_Qaradawi.pdf