Palestinian Donors Pour Millions Into American Universities: REPORT

Palestinian donors have pumped millions of dollars into several American universities that have ties to academic institutions in the region, according to a new report.

Harvard University, Brown University and Indiana University of Pennsylvania have collectively received nearly $10 million from entities in the Palestinian territories, sometimes with undisclosed identities, between 2017 and 2023, according to a new report by Open The Books. The trio of universities have academic partnerships with universities in Palestine, with professors at one of the institutions praising the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks where Hamas killed approximately 1,200 people.

Brown, an Ivy League university in Rhode Island, received $643,000 from a source in the Palestinian territories in February 2020 to “provide support for a Professorship in Palestinian Studies within Middle East Studies,” according to federal records. The university announced in May 2020 the role would be filled by Beshara Doumani due to the support of Palestinian donors, some of whom were not disclosed by the university.

Brown confirmed that it received Palestinian funds in a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Doumani, shortly after his appointment to Brown, became the president of Birzeit University in the West Bank, a role he held between 2021 and 2023, according to his university biography. The Hamas-affiliated “Islamic Bloc” won the majority of seats on the university’s student council in both 2022 and 2023, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Doumani told Palestinian media after the 2022 election that “we are also proud of the participation of all spectra of Palestinian national action in these elections” and that the Birzeit “is not only a reflection of political currents outside the university, but it should be a compass for the Palestinian community,” according to the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis.

Harvard received $1.5 million in funds originating in the Palestinian territories and, like Brown, has ties to Birzeit University, according to federal disclosures. The records of Harvard’s receipts don’t include a description of what the funds were spent on.

Harvard’s François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights partnered with Birzeit University on its Palestine Program for Health and Human Rights, which is “an academic hub engaging in a broadly collaborative justice and rights-based approach in the study of Palestinian health through knowledge production, education, and multidisciplinary community engagement,” according to its website.

The program “utilizes a decolonial framework in program development, leadership, and engagement,” the website reads.

Birzeit University’s Union of Professors and Employees released a statement days after the Oct. 7 attack saying that “2023 will be recorded historically as the year that Palestinians stood boldly in the face of colonial fascism and screamed in defense of their homes, humanity, and lives.”

“Our resistance shows us the path forward, and we remain steadfast, and we shall triumph,” the statement continued.

Doumani ended his tenure at Birzeit in July 2023, according to the university.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania was the largest recipient of Palestinian funds, bringing in $7.3 million, according to Open The Books’ analysis. The majority of the grants were disbursed to pay the tuition of Palestinian students, though some were also earmarked for paying the tuition of Indian students, according to federal disclosures.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania partners with Arab American University in the West Bank for PhD and masters in Business Administration programs, according to the latter institution’s website.

Some of the earlier instances of foreign funding originating in the Palestinian territories say they are from the “State of Palestine,” according to the analysis. The United States does not recognize Palestinian statehood.

Other American universities have partnered with Palestinian universities that praised the Oct. 7 terror attacks. Georgia State University ended its partnership with Al-Quds Open University in the West Bank after the Daily Caller News Foundation reported that it had praised Hamas militants.

Doumani, Harvard and Indiana University of Pennsylvania did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s requests for comment.

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