Biden Admin Pays Anti-Israel Professor Thousands To Investigate How 'Viral Memes' Spread 'Anti-Muslim Racism'

San Diego State University professor Amira Jarmakani claims "Zionism is racism," anti-Semitism exaggerated

L: (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) R: Amira Jarmakani (
April 15, 2024

The Biden administration is sending tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to an anti-Israel professor to investigate how "viral memes" can "perpetuate gendered, anti-Muslim racism," federal spending disclosures show.

The National Endowment for the Humanities awarded San Diego State University professor Amira Jarmakani $60,000 to research and write a project titled, "Weapons of Mass Dissemination: Apprehending Digital Anti-Muslim Racism," which will address Islamophobic stereotypes in memes and images on the internet.

Jarmakani in the grant description argues such memes have the ability to perpetuate "gendered anti-Muslim racism" which leads to "domestic surveillance that can also lead to the capture and incarceration of innocent people, framed as terrorists or enemy combatants in the War on Terror."

The grant, which will start on Sept. 1, comes as the Biden administration distances itself from the Jewish state amid its war with Hamas. Biden last week called for a ceasefire and said what Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is doing is a "mistake."

"I think what [Netanyahu] is doing is a mistake. I don’t agree with his approach," Biden said in an interview that aired on Univision. "What I’m calling for is for the Israelis to just call for a ceasefire, allow for the next six, eight weeks, total access to all food and medicine going into the country."

Biden said his support for Israel’s security is "ironclad" after the unprecedented Iranian attack on Israel over the weekend, but reportedly has discouraged the Israelis from launching a counterstrike.

At an October 2023 speech at the Institute for the Critical Study of Zionism, Jarmakani argued against the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism which includes "denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavor" and "applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation."

"Israel’s apartheid policies, ongoing conquest of Palestinian land, and violent displacement of Palestinians clearly situate it within these explanations of racism as a structure and an institution," Jarmakani said. "So notably, in disallowing the claim that ‘Zionism is racism,’ then, what is at stake is a repudiation of structural and institutional understandings of racism."

Jarmakani argued during the October speech that criticizing Zionism and the Jewish state is not a form of anti-Semitism. The phrase "Zionism is racism," she said, "condemns colonialism, imperialism, nationalism, and other forms of state violence, including apartheid, and it situates Zionism as manifested in Israel within these formations, namely that of settler colonialism."

Jarmakani, a professor of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at San Diego State University, serves on the advisory board of the Institute for the Critical Study of Zionism. The institute supports the "delinking of the study of Zionism from Jewish Studies" and looks to "reclaim academia and public discourse for the study of Zionism as a political, ideological, and racial and gendered knowledge project…" according to its website. The institute accused Israel of "genocide" in Gaza and omitted the hatred Jewish people have faced historically.

In an April 1 podcast produced by the institute titled, "Unpacking Zionism," Jarmakani, who goes by she/they pronouns, argued that stories of Jewish students who felt unsafe on college campuses due to a spike in anti-Semitic incidents were false. Jarmakani said the Anti-Defamation League’s statistics that said anti-Semitic events in the U.S. rose nearly 400 percent were misleading because they included what she called anti-Zionist protests, which she believes should be excluded from the count.

"The 400 percent does the same collapsing of anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism, and really importantly the huge majority of the things that are being counted are actually anti-Zionism, so this is a reason why counting is so important to how diversity, equity and inclusion works in relation to Zionism and anti-Semitism really weaponized in relation to it," Jarmakani said on the podcast.

She concluded, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism, which includes anti-Zionism, is "really dangerous." For example, Jarmakani said right-wing media and representatives such as Elise Stefanik (R., N.Y.) are "weaponizing anti-Semitism" in a bid to take down diversity, equity, and inclusion policies on college campuses instead of investigating the rise in anti-Semitism.

Jarmakani has not acknowledged the massacre on Oct. 7 on social media or in the op-ed she wrote, titled, "The ADL is leading the attack against free speech on Palestine." She did, however, post "free Palestine" only two days after the attacks.

Jarmakani, the Institute for the Critical Study of Zionism, and the National Endowment for the Humanities did not respond to a request for comment.