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U.S. Government Gave over $1.5 Million to Nonprofit with Ties to Palestinian Pro-Terror Universities

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The Department of Education and the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded $1,508,888 between 2010 and 2022 to a research institution with close ties to two Palestinian universities that are hotbeds for terrorism.

The Palestinian American Research Center (PARC) has maintained a close relationship for years with Birzeit University and An-Najah National University, located in the West Bank cities of Birzeit and Nablus, respectively. PARC has taken at least two delegations to both universities and even hosted a conference at Birzeit. Groups of Hamas affiliates have been arrested at both schools within the last several months, and Hamas-affiliated parties hold majorities on both universities’ student councils.

In addition to the Department of Education and the National Endowment for the Humanities, PARC is funded via a federally-approved passthrough organization called Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC), which receives funding from the State Department, the U.S. Department of Education, the Smithsonian Institution, and private foundations, according to its website. CAORC’s mission is to promote “advanced research … conservation and recording of cultural heritage and the understanding and interpretation of modern societies.”

PARC received over half a million dollars from CAORC as “pass-through subgrants” between 2018 and 2022, according to tax forms. A pass-through organization allows a federal grant to be distributed into sub-awards and given to local organizations.

PARC’s support for Birzeit University was made clear when it sent delegations there in May of 2022 and 2023 “to foster connections and expand research collaboration.” The school is also listed under “Orgs on Palestine” on PARC’s website, implying that the group endorses the university’s scholarship.

Four of the 21 members listed on PARC’s “Who We Are” page either currently work at or have previously worked at Birzeit University, one is codirecting a Birzeit University project, and an additional member earned a degree there. A PARC-sponsored panel at the 2023 Middle East Studies Association (MESA) Annual Meeting was organized by a Birzeit University professor.

Less than two weeks before Hamas attacked on Oct. 7, killing more than 1,200 Israelis and kidnapping more than 200, Israeli security forces arrested eight suspects from a terrorist cell at Birzeit University who had planned to carry out an “immediate” terrorist attack.

The university itself even publicly voiced support for Hamas following the Oct. 7 attacks and tweeted from its official account on Oct. 10, “Glory for martyrs,” a slogan widely interpreted to glorify terrorists killed in the war. In December, a Birzeit University tweet memorialized the anniversary of the First Intifada, calling it “a perfect example of national unity,” despite it actually being a period of increased violence.

Birzeit University enrolled its inaugural class of Israel Studies masters students in 2015, according to an article by PARC director Rebecca Stein. A 2017 graduate of the program, Marah Khalifeh, said the program provided her with “knowledge” that is “part of knowing your enemy.” A professor affiliated with the program, Fakher Eldin, also referred to Israel as simply “your enemy.”

In May 2023, the Hamas-linked Islamic Allegiance Bloc of Birzeit’s student council won 25 out of 51 seats, while the group linked to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party won 20 seats. Fatah currently dominates the Palestinian Authority, whose “pay for slay” program rewards Palestinians for murdering Jews and offers the families of Palestinians killed while attacking Israel with a lump sum and a monthly stipend.

Of the 21 members of PARC’s leadership team, almost all have ties with the Institute for Palestine Studies (IPS) and are listed on IPS’s website. IPS also has close ties with Birzeit University — IPS was the organizing office for a fall 2022 conference at the university.

Birzeit has posted multiple calls for papers for IPS’s Journal of Palestine Studies. On Oct. 10, 2023 — just three days after the massacre of Israelis — the call was for papers that “consider the creative and generative ways media elevate and affirm forms of Palestinian resistance …”

In addition to its ties with Birzeit, PARC appears to maintain close ties with An-Najah National University, which Hamas calls a “greenhouse for martyrs.” Hamas member Qais Adwan, former head of the An-Najah student council from the Islamic Bloc, also headed the Qassam Brigades in the northern West Bank.

In January 2024, Israeli security forces arrested nine students from an An-Najah Hamas student cell. This followed a May 2023 student government election in which Islamic Bloc, Hamas’ student wing, won 40 seats, which amounted to a majority.

In 2021, 11 An-Najah students were arrested for transferring funds and coordinating rallies in support of Hamas, as well as organizing incitement to violence campaigns under senior Hamas officials’ leadership.

Although PARC Executive Director Penelope Mitchell’s two visits to An-Najah — first in 2015 in a delegation of 12 PARC members, and again in July 2018 “to discuss further means of mutual cooperation” — were before these high-profile arrests, An-Najah’s fostering of terror has been known since at least 2014.

Board member Rebecca Stein also visited An-Najah in November 2018, and another member, Samah Saleh, is an assistant professor in the university’s Department of Social Work.

Like Birzeit University, An-Najah is also listed on PARC’s website under “Orgs on Palestine,” implying that PARC recommends An-Najah’s scholarship.

Neither PARC nor CAORC responded to requests for comment.

This article first appeared in The Federalist on May 21, 2024.

Naomi Grant was a research intern at Capital Research Center in Washington, DC, and holds a master’s degree in international relations from Johns Hopkins.


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