(April 12, 2019 / JNS) A video shows a Palestinian rapper performing an anti-Semitic song last month at a conference, titled “Conflict Over Gaza: People, Politics and Possibilities,” at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, co-sponsored by several of the school’s departments and entities such as the Chancellor’s Global Education Fund.
Tamer Nafar, who began his performance by telling the audience—“I cannot be anti-Semitic alone”—sang, “Don’t think of Rihanna when you sing this, don’t think of Beyoncé—think of Mel Gibson. I’m in love with a Jew/Oh/I fell in love with a Jew/Oh/Her skin is white and my skin is brown, she was going up up and I was going down.”
The video was taken by filmmaker and activist Ami Horowitz, who also shared audio of anti-Semitic exchanges while visiting the campus.
“I heard there was a conference going on about the conflict in Gaza, and my initial assumption was that it was going to be a hate fest against Israel,” Horowitz told ABC11. “When I went there, that is what I found, but what I did not expect was for it to evolve into open anti-Semitism.”
He added, “You expect these attitudes from neo-Nazis and white nationalists, but you don’t expect these attitudes in the halls of academia and the halls of Congress.”
UNC told ABC11 that Horowitz’s footage “was heavily edited, and the product as presented does not provide context as to the questions and the full, complete answers given. Moreover, we do not believe this video represents the spirit of scholarship at the event.”
The school continued:
The conference brought together internationally recognized scholars and professionals from NGOs, think tanks and academia to address a range of topics about Gaza from different viewpoints.The sponsors supported the event as an educational opportunity, and this video misconstrued the breadth of discourse that took place during the panels.
Our University is united by students, faculty, and staff from more than one hundred countries and represented by a diverse range of perspectives, traditions, and faiths. Diversity is an intrinsically vital part of shaping dialogue that can address complex issues, and we uphold a commitment to fostering a welcoming environment to people from all backgrounds.
Conferences such as this are organized by scholars who have academic freedom to develop the programming and invite their selected speakers and performers. UNC Global supports faculty in hosting these conferences without endorsing the beliefs of speakers or performers.
In response to ABC11 sending UNC the raw and edited footage, Duke University president Vincent Price and provost Sally Kornbluth said:
We want to be very clear: anti-Semitism is one of the great scourges of modern life. Its resurgence, as demonstrated by the worldwide increase in hate crimes and incidents, is deeply troubling and should be of great concern to any civil society. Whether it occurs on our campus, in our community, through graffiti, rallies or concerts, in conference rooms or courtrooms, we must all speak out forcefully against actions and statements that target and threaten members of our Jewish community. On our campus and beyond, the lines of politics, trust, activism and civility cannot become so blurred that we lose our commitment to mutual respect. We must guard against the danger that our passions obscure our common humanity, and we must remind ourselves that what injures any one of us injures us all.
In a statement, North Carolina Hillel slammed the event, which it said it “featured speakers who demonized Israel for the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and included too few perspectives from scholars who could have provided balanced context and multiple viewpoints on this challenging subject. Organizers missed the opportunity to convene a rich, educational forum that the UNC and Duke communities deserve.”