Skip To Content
Fast Forward

Congressman Calls To Investigate Academic Conference Over ‘Anti-Semitic Song’

A Republican congressman from North Carolina is asking the federal Department of Education to look into a conference hosted by two North Carolina universities that he claims had a “radical anti-Israel bias,” the Raleigh News & Observer reported.

In a letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Congressman George Holding asks for an investigation into a Middle East Studies conference hosted by the University of North Carolina and Duke University. The conference, titled “Conflict Over Gaza: People, Politics, and Possibilities,” was partially funded with $5,000 in federal dollars, according to the News & Observer.

Holding cited in his letter a video posted by a pro-Israel filmmaker that includes a clip of a performer at the conference singing what Holding described as a “brazenly anti-Semitic song.”

The song, a ballad by the Palestinian hip-hop group DAM called “Mama, I Fell In Love With A Jew,” was performed at the conference by one of the group’s members, Tamer Nafar. In the clip posted by a pro-Israel filmmaker who recorded the performance, Nafar refers to the song as his “anti-Semitic song.”

One student who attended the conference told the Daily Tar Heel, a student paper, that the clip was taken out of context. “When he said, ‘This is my anti-Semitic song,’ I think he was alluding to that, like, if you criticize Israel, people are going to call you an anti-Semite,” Fouad Abu-Hijleh told the paper. “That’s how I perceived it as a Palestinian. Now obviously for an American audience, I don’t know if that translated well or if that carried its meaning.”

In his letter, Holding asked the DOE to investigate whether the conference constituted grounds to revoke the remainder of a $235,000 federal grant, a piece of which supported the conference.

Contact Josh Nathan-Kazis at [email protected] or on Twitter, @joshnathankazis

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning journalism this Passover.

In this age of misinformation, our work is needed like never before. We report on the news that matters most to American Jews, driven by truth, not ideology.

At a time when newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall. That means for the first time in our 126-year history, Forward journalism is free to everyone, everywhere. With an ongoing war, rising antisemitism, and a flood of disinformation that may affect the upcoming election, we believe that free and open access to Jewish journalism is imperative.

Readers like you make it all possible. Right now, we’re in the middle of our Passover Pledge Drive and we still need 300 people to step up and make a gift to sustain our trustworthy, independent journalism.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Only 300 more gifts needed by April 30

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.