The mushrooming of anti-Semitic violence and activism on campuses across the United States is not an organic or spontaneous development. Money is flowing from the Arab world to universities, nongovernmental organizations, and professional terrorist sympathizers across the country. That money is paying for, organizing, educating, publicizing, and fanning the flames not simply of Israel-bashing, but of eliminationist Jew-hatred.

It demands a major response. Congress has begun investigating. Hearings in which university presidents have been unable to articulate any kind of standard that would protect Jewish students are driving headlines and major changes in leadership at elite educational institutions. Now key committees are digging into offshore efforts to direct and support campus anti-Semitism and anti-Israel activity. But things are a bit chaotic on Capitol Hill. Congress is moving in scattershot fashion, with multiple bills sponsored by a myriad of members. Little that is lasting can be accomplished in this way.

What is needed now is a systematic survey of the problem, backed by the federal investigative power of agencies like the FBI, followed by a careful legislative response. That, in turn, will raise a host of complex issues that must be addressed if we are to change the game and rip out the anti-Semitism in our institutions at the root.

In our democracy, regulating or even getting to the bottom of financial flows, particularly to nongovernmental nonprofit organizations (NGOs) and educational institutions, is not easy. The constitutional guarantee of free speech rightly colors all inquiries into the nature of foreign support for any group or school.

Questions are raised that are not easily dismissed. For example: Is money from France or Australia the same as money from China or Qatar? Can foreign funding of a university department or chair that has the effect of influencing the curriculum or the nature of study be regulated? What about NGO activity on campus: Does allowing NGOs that support terrorist organizations and their aims on campus constitute material support for terrorism, which is illegal under federal law? Is there a constitutional means of regulating or banning foreign-government-sponsored hate speech? Can Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which bars discrimination on the grounds of race, color, or national origin, be reasonably applied to donated dollars that seem to tilt the scales in favor of the causes of foreign actors?

First, we need to address the scope of the problem and determine its sources—apart from the frailties of human character that have driven anti-Semitic hatred for as long as there have been Jews. Where has this new anti-Semitism come from? What are the best tools to fight it? What are the roots of this 21st-century version of the world’s oldest hatred?

THE SCOPE
OF THE PROBLEM

The breadth of campus protests, the demands of impromptu encampment juntas, and the specific demands of the “students” there, have all staggered America. Those who support their cause are exhilarated by their success. Those who are appalled by not only the lawlessness but the abhorrent ugliness of their behavior and words are in shock. Even for those riveted and horrified by the spectacle, there has been too much happening on a daily basis to absorb it all. There also appears to be some confusion about what is going on, including a nostalgic sense among some that protest is an age-old rite of passage for the young, something kids always do. They are wrong. This is fresh.

In May, Hillel International—the largest Jewish campus organization in the world—reported a 700 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses since October 7, more than 1,500 separate incidents in all. The anti-Semitic wave took multiple forms that are breathtaking in the way they have broken seemingly unbreakable norms—extolling Hitler and lamenting the failure of the Holocaust; demands that Jews “go back to Poland”; omnipresent glorification of Hamas and the attacks of October 7; calls for Hamas (and Iran) to attack Tel Aviv; denial of the events of October 7; attacks on Jewish institutions like Chabad and Hillel, as well as synagogues, Jewish fraternities, and even “visibly” Jewish students. (The rise of the expression “visibly Jewish” is itself a predation that deserves more attention.)

Consistently across states and universities both public and private—though mostly at the nation’s most elite institutions—demands have gone beyond mere harassment and name-calling. Jewish students and professors have been blocked from campus solely for the “crime” of being Jewish—a violation of multiple laws justified by Jew-hater par excellence Representative Ilhan Omar. Protester demands include everything from divestment of university endowments in Israel to the banning of organizations in and around campus “associated with Zionism.” Those include Hillel and Chabad, which are explicitly Jewish service organizations designed to help young Jews practice their faith away from home and are not primarily Zionist advocacy organizations. Indeed, the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at the University of California demanded a “complete academic boycott” of a list of Jewish organizations and philanthropies; it was enough, in most cases, for the organization to simply have a Jewish name to be on the list.

How pervasive was all this? Nationwide, there were almost 3,000 campus arrests.

FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, found that 60 percent of American students were on a campus this past academic year where a protest had been ongoing, though only 10 percent of students actually participated.

While student participation is shocking, it’s the involvement of their professors that represents a break from every academic norm. In addition to joining encampments themselves at dozens of schools, professors have sought to intervene when police were called in to stem violence, apprehend trespassers, and disband illegal encampments. A brief survey: Thirty-four professors at the University of Virginia signed letters condemning administrators for suspensions and arrests of students, and 77 percent of Barnard professors voted “no confidence” in their president. Faculty at the University of Texas at Austin engaged in a work stoppage. The chair of women’s studies at UCLA led a 200-faculty-strong walkout to support protesters. Staff at Rutgers University, University of Minnesota, and University of California, Riverside, came out in support of divestment from Israel. Mona Dugo, the dean of students at Northwestern University, joined a protest outside the school’s Hillel on the grounds that she needed to ensure that the demonstrators’ rights were protected. The Hillel House is not on the campus quad but on Foster Street in Evanston, shared by private homes and academic buildings.

For many professors, the seedlings of their anti-Semitic activism had been cultivated since choosing their academic discipline. A 2017 AMCHA Initiative study of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PCACBI), a pro-BDS network of college professors, found that a majority of faculty BDS advocates are affiliated with ethnic, gender, or Middle East studies departments. The more BDS advocates on campus there were, the more external BDS agitators were invited to campus. And the more such speakers were invited to campus, the more anti-Semitic agitation and incidents took place. PCACBI is funded in part by the Alliance for Justice, itself funded by the Tides, Nexus, and Open Society Foundations.

Another organization has also arisen since October 7 to coordinate professors alongside Students for Justice in Palestine. It is called Faculty for Justice in Palestine (FJP). With 95 chapters as of late April and booming, FJP works alongside the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI).

In the weeks since spring semester at last came to its end, various university leaders have quietly capitulated to student demands, making agreements to divest from Israel, review school relations with “Zionist” groups, and reinstate students expelled for criminal charges, violation of university rules, hate crimes, and worse. Faculty have also done their part, using their clout at both Harvard and Princeton to limit consequences to the pro-Hamas crowds for breaking campus rules. Harvard faculty voted to reinstate 13 students who had been arrested and suspended so that they could graduate (though Harvard’s governing body then overruled the faculty).

THE SOURCES
OF THE PROBLEM

Efforts to tease out the accelerant behind the inferno have pinpointed the Manichean oppressor/oppressed framework that governs diversity, equity, and inclusion ideology. Married to the all-embracing concept of radical intersectionality—that “black lives” cannot be divorced from “trans lives,” or abortion, or “Palestine,” or brown vs. white, or climate—DEI has been a driving force behind the demonization of Jews as well as Israel. It has also led to the erasure of the dividing line between a sovereign state (a proper subject of political criticism) and a religious affiliation (the polar opposite of a proper subject for criticism). The apotheosis of this intersectionality was found in Malmo, Sweden, when the keffiyeh-clad eco-activist Greta Thunberg demonstrated against the participation of an Israeli singer in the Eurovision contest.

Social media has also been a powerful catalyst. American platforms like Instagram, X, and Facebook have been used to both organize campus demonstrations and propagandize anti-Semitism. Each argues that it draws a line between speech (“Jews should all die!”) and calls to action (“We should kill all the Jews”). Each has failed on numerous occasions. However, no platform has pushed anti-Semitic tropes, anti-Israel propaganda, and false narratives as aggressively as Chinese-owned TikTok.

Long before October 7, researchers had raised red flags about anti-Semitic content on the TikTok platform. A pre-attack research study of anti-Semitism on TikTok noted the growing prevalence of anti-Semitic memes on the platform. A 2020 report from The Centre for Countering Digital Hatred found that TikTok  removed only 18.5 percent of reported anti-Semitic posts, and the study’s authors found usernames like “@holocaustwasgood” and “@eviljews” operating with impunity. The enormously influential platform, with 150 million users in the United States alone, doubled down after the Hamas attack. In a November 2023 letter to TikTok’s CEO, a large group of House members led by Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers noted that “according to TikTok’s own ‘Creative Center,’ the hashtag #freepalestine received 946 million views in the last 30 days, while #standwithIsrael received only 55 million. Most concerning, 58 percent of those viewing the #freepalestine hashtag are within the 18 to 24 age group.”

The allegation that the Chinese Communist Party is encouraging a TikTok algorithm fomenting anti-Israel and anti-Semitic posts is buttressed by the fact that on China’s own TikTok equivalent, Douyin (TikTok itself is banned in China), anti-Semitic posts receive millions of views. And on Chinese applications as mundane as Baidu and Amap, the State of Israel has been erased, replaced with “Palestine.” Given the undisputed fact that the Beijing dictatorship exercises granular, post-specific control over all apps and platforms under its sway—try to find the Tiananmen Square uprising, Uighur genocide, or independent Taiwan on any one—there is substantial reason to suspect that the government of China is actively seeking to foment anti-Semitic campus unrest.

China experts argue persuasively that Beijing’s long and quite cozy relationship with the government of Israel—a relationship that has prompted bipartisan condemnations over several decades—suggests that China’s interest is more in fomenting general discontent and instability in the United States than in the specifics of Jew-hatred. Like the government of Russia, China expends substantial energy in fanning flames of social and political unrest online, often less with a view to a particular outcome, and more to underwrite a growing sense of chaos among the American people.

Not so other outside agitators.

After George Washington University’s encampment in Washington, D.C., was finally taken down in early May, there were 33 arrests—29 for unlawful entry and four for assault. Only six of the arrested were GW students, with six more reportedly from nearby Georgetown University. After arrests at encampments at the University of Texas at Austin and the City University of New York, it turned out that only half the protesters were students. Who were the others?

At Columbia University, reporters spotted Lisa Fithian, a perennial protester and veteran of the 2011 Occupy Wall Street protests (and other Occupy efforts that followed) as well as Black Lives Matter protests. Other non-students came from a hodgepodge of jihadi, leftist, Maoist, Marxist, antifa, anarchist, Code Pink, and garden-variety mobs. At demonstrations, people were seen waving the ISIS black flag and the Hamas green flag, and distributing Hamas press literature, generic pro-North Korean screeds, and the ubiquitous anti-Semitic genocide tropes on both paper and posters. A unifying theme was the call “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” although “Yalla, Yalla ya Hamas” (Go Hamas!) and “There is only one solution/intifada revolution” also made frequent appearances.

It has proved tempting for many members of the American elite to brush this unpleasantness away; after all, kids will be kids. But these are not just kids. In a wide-ranging and exhaustively researched piece in Tablet, Park MacDougald lays out the web of foundations, NGOs, and “pro-Palestine” organizations behind the campus uprisings. In summary, MacDougald flags the striking similarity of this round of campus activism to previous such outbreaks:

The first hint that the protests are not entirely organic is their striking resemblance to previous rounds of organized far-left agitation, from the “uprising” of summer 2020 to the rolling antifa vs. Proud Boys brawls of 2016-17. The creation of “liberated” or “autonomous” zones on campus, for instance, is a hallmark of anarchist organizing familiar from Seattle’s Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone and New York’s City Hall Autonomous Zone four summers ago. Familiar, too, is the governance of these zones, with masked security details prohibiting filming from outsiders and directing reporters to trained media representatives. During clashes with police or with counterprotesters, students and their allies have deployed classic “bloc” tactics. All of these tactics require a degree of instruction and training…

Who is agitating for, coordinating, training, and in some cases financing this campus hydra?

THE SEED MONEY
OF THE PROBLEM

Begin with National Students for Justice in Palestine (NSJP), which is the parent of more than 250 campus branches of Students for Justice in Palestine; Jewish Voices for Peace (and JVP Action, its political-action committee); and Within Our Lifetime. They, in turn, are funded by George Soros Inc. ($650,000 to JVP), the Kaphan Foundation ($441,000 to JVP), and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (also JVP). SJP, which is a major organizer, trainer, and agitator behind campus protests, has donors that are more suspect.

SJP and National Students for Justice in Palestine are part of American Muslims for Palestine. That group in turn is part of the Americans for Justice in Palestine (AJP) and the AJP Educational Fund, which is represented on Capitol Hill by the AJP Action Fund. Their founder is Hatem Bazian, best known as a fundraiser for KindHearts, an Islamist nonprofit that in 2012 settled with the U.S. Treasury Department over claims it had raised funds for Hamas (though it admitted no wrongdoing). Here is an excerpt from their “toolkit” for university students released in the immediate aftermath of October 7:

Today, we witness a historic win for the Palestinian resistance: across land, air, and sea, our people have broken down the artificial barriers of the Zionist entity, taking with it the facade of an impenetrable settler colony and reminding each of us that total return and liberation to Palestine is near. As the Palestinian student movement, we have an unshakable responsibility to join the call for mass mobilization.

Legal-aid organizations tied to the Palestine hydra include Palestine Legal and the Adalah Justice Project. Together, they have fought the “free speech” battle that has been reborn on U.S. campuses in the wake of the era of DEI-driven anti-free-speech movements. Both Palestine Legal and Adalah are funded by TIDES, a nonprofit umbrella group that funnels cash to far-left and radical anti-Israel groups, and WESPAC, the Westchester Peace Action Committee, which has a similar profile.

Another funding nexus for SJP and FJP and related organizations, per NGO Monitor, is the “US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, which is a financial pillar of the SJP, a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization.” Similarly, “donating to the USACBI takes you to al Awda Palestinian Right to Return Coalition [in] Coral Springs, FL. Donating to al Awda is done via SquareUp.com. The al Awda Youth representative is Nerdeen Kiswani from New York. Kiswani is the co-founder and chair of Within Our Lifetime (WOL)—United for Palestine. Kiswani was the former chair of SJP-NYC.”

Then there is Samidoun. Students at Columbia University, possibly the most militant, and certainly the best publicized of pro-Hamas “student” encampments, and Barnard, its sister school, enjoyed “Resistance 101” training from an organization called Samidoun, the Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network. Samidoun coordinator Charlotte Kates, per a YouTube recording, informed Columbia students that “there is nothing wrong with being a member of Hamas, being a leader of Hamas, being a fighter in Hamas.”

Samidoun is an interesting organization. An Israeli-designated terrorist front, Samidoun is believed to be a subsidiary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a U.S.-designated terrorist group so venerable that it was behind the hijacking of the Air France jet to Entebbe in 1976, nearly half a century ago.

Founded by PFLP member Khaled Barakat in 2012, Samidoun has provided posters with the PFLP logo to students, PFLP flags, and training from Charlotte Kates—who happens to be Barakat’s wife. At George Washington University, protestors conducted a “teach-in” around the book Strategy for the Liberation of Palestine, a PFLP manual. Students at Columbia, Rutgers, Yale, and Stanford have been documented carrying PFLP posters and the PFLP flag.

Samidoun raises money through an entity called the “Alliance for Global Justice,” itself a 501(c)(3) registered with the Internal Revenue Service. The Alliance for Global Justice has received funding from a web of George Soros–backed groups and a far-left dark money network, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Because of the Alliance for Global Justice and Samidoun’s overt ties to the PFLP, the group has been blacklisted by PayPal and banned from operating in Germany. Since 2021, Samidoun has been registered as a nonprofit in Canada.

Samidoun honcho Barakat lives freely in Canada, though he has been designated by Israel as a terror leader. A 2022 National Post article identified him explicitly as a senior member of the PFLP, which is banned as a terrorist organization in Canada. He has been barred from Germany. An affiliate organization in France, the Collectif Palestine Vaincra, was disbanded under that nation’s hate-crime laws. He is also the coordinator of a “campaign to free Ahmad Sa’adat,” the head of the PFLP now in Israeli prison. Efforts by both Jewish organizations in Canada and the Israeli government to have Samidoun and Barakat designated as part of the PFLP have not borne fruit. Most Samidoun training for U.S. students takes place online, with the Samidoun leaders in Canada.

A ubiquitous factor in the spread of anti-Semitic extremism on campuses is foreign funding. In most cases, analysts do not see funding from a country of concern—take Qatar—going to the SJP branch at University X or at Y College. Far from it. Rather, what in-depth research by the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP) has found is a network of relationships between universities and foreign donors—primarily Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates—that create an environment which fosters anti-Semitic discourse. Are the Emiratis (or anyone else) paying explicitly for campus BDS campaigns or tent encampments? Not evidently. The relationships are more subtle.

According to ISGAP, Texas A&M, Georgetown, Cornell, Carnegie Mellon, Northwestern, Virginia Commonwealth, and others are the beneficiaries of generous Qatari spending (though Texas A&M is pulling its operations out of the Gulf kingdom by 2028). Qatar is by far the largest donor to Universities, per a report from the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise, with over $5.7 billion in gifts between 1981 and 2023. More important, those donations are funneled via a series of institutions, some governmental and some, like the wholly state-funded Qatar Foundation, labeled “private.” Money also changes hands via the establishment of campuses in Qatar, most of which are governed by intrusive contractual arrangements that allow the donor to do such things as approve course offerings.

The key finding from ISGAP: Between 2015 and 2020—pre–October 7—universities that received donations from Middle Eastern sources had, “on average, 300% more anti-Semitic incidents than those institutions that did not.”

THE ANSWER: LAW

Why does the org chart for radical pro-Hamas supporters, their organizations, their funders, their faculty enablers, student facilitators, and foreign funders matter? It is, after all, a blindingly confusing amalgam of letters representing groups made up of killers, anti-Semites, do-gooders, foreign dictators, idiots, and hangers-on.

The answer is simple, really: Anti-Semitism cannot be tolerated. We must not allow it to become part of acceptable discourse in America. Allowed to embed itself in academia, Jew-hatred creeps into society, journalism, business, and government. Effectively, there is no difference between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism; anti-Zionism is just the new code word. So what to do?

The answer is the law.

In America, discrimination and bigotry—and support for terrorism in aid of discrimination and bigotry—are in their extremes circumscribed by law. Such legislation, at all levels, include hate crimes laws; laws barring discrimination based on gender, race, and religion; anti-boycott laws; and anti-terrorism legislation that precludes funding, supporting, or participating in terrorist acts or terrorist groups.

There are laws governing foreign-government sponsorship of lobbying, disclosure laws requiring universities to report donations from foreign governments on a regular basis, and tax laws governing how nonprofits spend and report their income. Theoretically, these laws should be enough to protect the nation’s Jews and supporters of Israel both on campus and off; in practice, they are not. What follows from this failure is that enforcement of existing laws is imperative, and some new laws are required.

The lack of a formal legal definition of anti-Semitism has hindered the enforcement of existing state and federal laws and regulations, even on campus. For that reason, the Trump administration issued an Executive Order on Combating Anti-Semitism in 2019, which included an explication of how Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 could be used to fight anti-Semitism despite the absence of religion as a factor in considering discrimination as spelled out in the law itself. It also charged federal agencies tasked with Title VI enforcement to use the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism in consideration of violations. Notably, this executive order was one of the few such Trump-era orders left in place by the Biden administration.

A word about the IHRA definition: In 2016, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance adopted a definition of anti-Semitism that has been placed in law by 42 countries. The definition itself is straightforward:

Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.

In addition, the IHRA put forth several examples of anti-Semitism, including, “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.” Some of these examples have prompted consternation, faux and sincere, among free-speech advocates, libertarians, and others.

The House of Representatives recently passed a version of that EO into law by a huge margin: 320–91, with 70 Democrats and 21 Republicans dissenting. For the most part, among dissenters, Republicans expressed concern with infringements on the First Amendment and religious freedom, while Democrats worried about efforts to criminalize legitimate criticism of the State of Israel. But in fact the bill does not penalize any speech—only proven discrimination and harassment. And it would do so literally no differently than is the case with bigotry directed at blacks, Hispanics, LBGTQ people, or any other minority, as Democrat Rep. Ritchie Torres, a sponsor, has repeatedly explained. Thus far, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has refused to take up the bill.

The foundational importance of a definition is clear: Absent an understanding of what anti-Semitism is, there will be confusion about enforcement. Difficulty answering the question of whether “from the river to the sea” is a call to the genocide of the Jewish people is, at least in part, a result. Absent formal federal legal adoption of the IRHA definition, several states are now using it to inform their own enforcement. Thirty-four states have now enshrined it, either legislatively, by proclamation, or via executive order.

Other relevant statutes include Title VI itself. Prior to October 7, the provision was rarely used to address religious discrimination, Trump’s EO notwithstanding. Since then, however, Title VI investigations have been opened into dozens of universities, including seven in the Ivy League (only Dartmouth has avoided scrutiny).

Such efforts get at the what—by which I mean the treatment of Jews on campus and the reaction of campus administrators. The how and the why are more problematic and require more imagination.

The main drivers on campuses where anti-Semitism is rife appear to be two important factors: foreign money (and an important subset of foreign money: foreign students); and variants of American Muslims for Palestine and its offshoot student and faculty organizations.

Where is the money coming from?

Under Section 117 of the Higher Education Act of 1965, academic institutions that receive federal financial assistance (virtually all, in some form or another) are required semiannually to disclose foreign-government gifts and contracts of $250,000 or more. It’s interesting to note that this provision was added to the act in 1986 in response to the growing influence of Middle Eastern donors in American universities and the rise of anti-Semitism on college campuses. Until 2022, Section 117 was enforced by the Office of the General Counsel of the Education Department; the Biden administration moved its job to the Office of Federal Student Affairs, a backwater that has done little to ensure compliance. What would compliance look like?

In 2019, under then–Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, the Education Department dove into its records for reporting on foreign donations, and what it found was shocking. There was little to no compliance across the board. Similarly, the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found that foreign-government spending at U.S. academic institutions was “effectively a black hole,” and that 70 percent of schools were not complying with the law.

Turns out, an astounding $6.7 billion in foreign funding had not been disclosed between 2014 and 2019. Per the Network Contagion Research Institute, which analyzed the updated disclosures, “over $2.7 billion in gifts came from Qatari sources, $1.2 billion from Chinese entities, and over $1 billion originated in Saudi Arabia.” Since 2021 and Biden’s inauguration, however, reports have slowed to a trickle.

In 2022, most outstanding Section 117 investigations were closed, and enforcement was moved from the Office of the General Counsel to the Office of Federal Student Aid. Education Department officials whisper that this was due to complaints from the American Council on Education. Another study by the American Israeli Cooperative Enterprise found that since 2021, the Department of Education has changed numbers, obscured certain donations, and now withholds donor information from its public reports. The same study found that for the $11.7 billion from four Arab countries from 1981 through 2023—fully 23 percent of all foreign donations—no information was provided about how that money was used.

Clearly, enforcing compliance with Section 117 requires an overhaul and a rethink. That is also the case with similar state laws in New York; for example, Section 207-a of State Education Law requires annual filing on foreign-government, person, or entity gifts of more than $100,000. In addition, donations from foreign individuals almost totally evade scrutiny: Foreign gifts not from governments are aggregated by country with no breakout for the type of gift, amount, or anything else. Indeed, a 2020 overhaul of the Section 117 portal by the Department of Education meant even less disclosure to the public.

Various efforts in Congress to remedy this problem include the already-signed-into-law CHIPS Act (Joe Biden’s signature legislation to boost computer-chip production in the United States), which requires universities to report donations over $50,000 from “countries of concern,” defined as China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea. New bills not yet passed would bring the reporting limit under 117 down from $250,000 to $50,000 (that’s a Senate bill, with the House’s counterpart version drawing the limit down to $100,000 in aggregate, or $250,000 over three years). Other provisions include reporting any donation from a “country of concern”—China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea, or “any country that the Secretary [of Education], in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, and the Director of National Intelligence, determines to be engaged in conduct that is detrimental to the national security or foreign policy of the United States.” It would bar contracts with countries of concern absent a waiver; require reporting on contracts between covered individuals (such as researchers) and all foreign entities of any kind; and mandate investment disclosures. It would also add crucial penalties for noncompliance.

Clearly, Congress recognizes there is a problem and is working to enhance disclosure requirements. What Congress has not done is address specifically and prescriptively the issue of “countries of concern.” Consider: If there are enhanced disclosure requirements for “countries of concern,” but countries that are actively linked to anti-Semitic terrorism on U.S. campuses are not specifically listed as “of concern,” how will new laws work?

One option would be to require the Department of State to annually list “countries of concern” in propagating violent anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic propaganda. Here, the trouble is that the Department of State is often derelict in such reporting requirements, refuses to adhere to congressionally delineated guidelines, and generally skews such reporting requirements for political reasons. For this reason, Lebanon—a country that hosts Hezbollah, a terror subsidiary of Iran that has killed hundreds of Americans and in which Hezbollah forms a part of the government—is not designated as a “state sponsor of terrorism” by the U.S. government. Ditto Qatar, which hosts Hamas and al-Qaeda leaders and openly finances Hamas.

One remedy will be for Congress to make clear what criteria it is looking for in the designation of “countries of concern,” including the presence of designated terror groups, financing of terror groups, as well as facilitation of the movement of people and money related to that terror group.

In addition, Congress must designate the correct venue within the Department of Education for consideration of Section 117 compliance—its Office of General Counsel—and require compliance. What is Congress’s ultimate leverage? Federal funding. Institutions of higher education in the United States will receive north of $200 billion from the federal government in 2024.

Finally, regarding Section 117, it is critical to understand that foreign funders have been allowed, more or less, to turn U.S. institutions of higher education into political fiefdoms, with their leaders and faculty serving as spokesmen for foreign interests. Under U.S. law currently, those who enter into contracts or receive funding to advocate for the interest of a foreign government are required to register with the Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). This requirement is embedded in a criminal statute, and a violation risks jail time. There is no reason compliance by American educational institutions with disclosure laws should not be subject to similar criminal penalties.

A small, but important subset of the foreign funding question is the foreign student question. While there have been no definitive studies on the role that foreigners in the United States on student visas have played in the campus unrest since October 7, there is no question that foreign students have taken part. At Harvard, one of the Ivy’s encampment leaders is a Pakistani Rhodes Scholar. The chief negotiator for “Columbia University Apartheid Divest” is a Syrian of Palestinian origin, also on a student visa. And in a more publicized case late in 2023, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) literally stopped short of expelling transgressive demonstrators because its leadership openly stated they feared these students would lose their visas and be removed from the country.

As it happens, Section 411 of the Patriot Act bars entry to noncitizens who use their “position of prominence within any country to endorse or espouse terrorist activity,” a provision that could be interpreted to mean that a student who loses his F1 student-visa (dependent on full-time status at an accredited U.S. institution) would never be able to return. Congress is already looking at changing student visa rules to strip holders “for rioting or unlawful protests.”

Then there is the question of nongovernmental organizations and their role. Right now, organizations like Students for Justice in Palestine, their parent entities, affiliates, and related groups are not required to register as 501(c)(3)s—the nonprofit status that, to take one example, COMMENTARY holds—in order to receive tax-free support from Americans or any support from foreign donors. Indeed, groups like the 501(c)(3)-registered Alliance for Justice are permitted to “fiscally sponsor” others like the SJP and affiliates.

What that means, effectively, is that SJP is not bound by the reporting requirements of U.S. tax law, including Form 990, which details expenditures, board members, and employees. Under current law, such 501(c)(3)s are not required to detail or disclose foreign donations, including foreign-government donations.

Congress became concerned some years ago when Washington think tanks, including think tanks whose scholars regularly testified before Congress, were not detailing their significant financial relationships with foreign governments. The House instituted rules requiring that witnesses disclose their institutions’ foreign ties. But the IRS imposes no such stricture on NGOs. This is another case where a designated list of countries of concern, including China and Russia, as well as nations with a substantial nexus with U.S.-designated terror groups, would be salutary.

Another critical step is closer scrutiny of NGOs. If, for example, an NGO is shut down by the U.S. government because of ties to terrorist organizations, should the rump employees of that organization—those who do not go to prison—be allowed to reconstitute a similar NGO under a new name? Should an NGO that employs all the same staff as an organization previously shut down by the U.S. government avoid a similar fate? The Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Jonathan Schanzer (a COMMENTARY contributing editor) has been relentless in his pursuit of the tendrils of the now-shuttered Texas-based Holyland Foundation. THF was closed down in 2008 after raising millions for Hamas, with five of its staff sent to prison. Holyland spawned several successors, most of which were also shut down for providing material support to Hamas. Thanks, however, to Schanzer’s work, nine former Holyland employees were located, still in the United States. They came together to run an organization called American Muslims for Palestine, a parent of… you guessed it… Students for Justice in Palestine. (The House Committee on Oversight and Accountability has sent a detailed request to National Students for Justice in Palestine to begin removing the veil of secrecy around SJP and affiliates.)

Congress must put in place laws to permanently bar individuals complicit in the running of a terrorist-financing operation in the United States from returning to their profession—supporting a terrorist organization from stateside. How to do that? It’s less simple than it appears, and like the “country of concern” challenge, it requires that U.S. law treat terrorism supporters differently. The right place to begin is to treat all employees of U.S.-designated terrorism supporters in the same way. In the case of Holyland, five employees did time, but the rest skated free. That should not be the case. All have, in their way, provided what is called “material support” to terrorism.

The “material support” question is another key to undercutting support for foreign terrorists and their anti-Semitic agenda in the United States. Right now, U.S. law as amended in 1996 defines a violation of the prohibition on providing “material support” for a terrorist group as “knowledge that the organization is a designated terrorist organization […] that the organization has engaged or engages in terrorist activity.”

Material support itself is described as “any property, tangible or intangible, or service, including currency or monetary instruments or financial securities, financial services, lodging, training, expert advice or assistance, safehouses, false documentation or identification, communications equipment, facilities, weapons, lethal substances, explosives, personnel (1 or more individuals who may be or include oneself), and transportation, except medicine or religious materials.”

Surely, returning to support for Hamas or Palestine Islamic Jihad or the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine constitutes an admission that an individual in question was well aware of the purposes of his previous employer. In that case, why should the unindicted be permitted to return to his original profession, replete with the tax advantages that come with 501(c)(3) status? Similarly, if an organization is designated as terrorist even by a foreign country—think Samidoun—shouldn’t providing it with the means to propagandize to U.S. students also constitute material support? That’s what university-owned Zoom accounts did for Samidoun.

One of the ways that foreign sponsors get around even the limited disclosure requirements that exist is by funneling money via NGOs, who then funnel the money to on-campus organizations. The simple answer to this workaround is to require all nonprofits and their subsidiaries who benefit from their nonprofit tax status to disclose gifts from all private and public donors in countries of concern—or all foreign countries, should labeling become an insuperable barrier. That requirement must also flow down to recipients of funding from such organizations, so that terrorism supporters and purveyors of anti-Semitism cannot launder their donations via successive groups to avoid disclosure.

NGOs will complain that it is too burdensome for small organizations to comply with reporting requirements of this kind. However, the onus must be on the donor to comply, with appropriate penalties should donor and donee fail in their legal obligations.

Some of these rules are in place at the state level, although, as with federal regulations, compliance and disclosure are spotty. Schools are deeply resistant to additional disclosure rules, as emails from MIT officials reveal: An effort by Congress to subject foreign contracts with U.S. universities to so-called CFIUS (Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S.) review prompted a flurry of objections. Other schools have opposed additional Section 117 disclosures and changes to rules governing foreign donations.

Finally, there is the question of compliance with BDS, a key pillar of demands made by SJP across the board. The Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment movement is an outgrowth of what was once called the Arab League Boycott of the State of Israel. Headquartered in Damascus, the Arab League boycott was once a powerful tool Arab enemies of Israel used to leverage foreign companies away from investment in Israel. However, U.S. law is broader than the Arab League action: Any compliance by any U.S. person or company with any unsanctioned foreign boycott is illegal. Here, the key words are “foreign boycott.” The U.S. government does not assess the BDS movement as “foreign,” which means it is not covered by existing law.

Congress has introduced anti-BDS compliance legislation a number of times, including in 2024, but language has yet to make it to the president’s desk. Not so at the state level, where compliance with BDS is illegal or subject to sanction and penalty in 37 states.

THE VICTIM
PROBLEM

Jews in the United States have asked themselves why it is that in an era when minorities—Jews constitute about 2.4 percent of the population—are preferred, protected, and even fetishized, the Jew remains an undefended target of hatred. Explications are rife, and documentation of anti-Semitism is aggressive. Nevertheless, there are daily attacks on Jewish people, Jewish institutions, and Jewish things.

Some argue that in combatting anti-Semitism, reducing the Jew to victim is the wrong answer. There is blushing embarrassment at the notion of a Jewish Lives Matter movement. Others insist that there is a transience to the current anti-Semitic frenzy, and that once Israel winds down its war against Hamas, things will go back to normal, whatever that is. But there is no requirement to determine the epistemological foundations of 21st century anti-Semitism or the nature of the modern Jew in order to accept the notion that there must be better laws in place to protect the academy, our young people, and the Jewish community from foreign or domestic predations, whether in the service of terrorism or hatred.

Over millennia, anti-Semitism has clothed itself in the veneer of justice against the nominal guises of the Jew—Christ killer, usurer, sexual predator, Communist, capitalist, colonialist. In Nazi Germany, the Papal States, the Roman Empire, you name it, the law was crafted to validate these tropes. But democracy affords equal protection to Jew and non-Jew alike. It is high time that Jews availed themselves of the privileges of American democracy to protect themselves, their beliefs, and their children from the evil of anti-Semitism. That is their—our—privilege in a nation of laws.

Photo: AP Photo/Armin Durguto

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