Inside Qatar's 'Multimillion-Dollar Plan' To Mainstream Anti-Israel Journalists

Report exposes anti-Semitic, anti-Israel postings from Qatar-Northwestern program

A class at Northwestern University-Qatar / Wikimedia Commons
March 16, 2022

The Qatari government and Northwestern University are "training a new generation of journalists who will legitimize anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, and anti-American positions," according to a report by a watchdog group.

"Qatar's Multimillion-Dollar Plan to Influence American Media," a report authored by Canary Mission, a watchdog group that documents anti-Semitism on U.S. college campuses, focuses on administrators, professors, lecturers, graduates, and students at Northwestern's satellite campus (NU-Q) in Doha, Qatar's capital, who were found to have made at least 750 "anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, and anti-American" social media postings. This number includes posts endorsing terrorism, touting boycotts of Israel, referring to pro-Israel Jews as "Zionist pigs," and praising Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

Of the 37 individuals highlighted in the report, 73 percent expressed support for terrorism, 81 percent demonized Israel and Jews, 27 percent posted anti-Semitic content, and 54 percent backed the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS), which wages economic warfare on the Jewish state.

"The NU-Q learning experience consists of a fully immersive environment that includes a heavily biased curriculum and a host of lecturers who hold antisemitic, anti-Israel, and anti-American views," according to the report.

NU-Q is completely funded up to $50 million annually by Qatar through two state-controlled organizations: the Qatar Foundation and the Al Jazeera Media Network, both of which have come under fire for attempting to wage influence operations in the United States and mainstream anti-Israel and anti-Semitic views. The program lecturers include in-house professors as well as Al Jazeera reporters, producers, and management. Qatar has long been accused of funding U.S. academic institutions to build an influence network across the United States. Programs funded by the Qatari government have come under scrutiny for their anti-Israel bent and focus on demonizing the pro-Israel community.

"Whether students begin with anti-Western views or not, too many emerge from their studies at NU-Q with an anti-Israel and anti-American mindset," Canary Mission said in a statement on its findings. "When they subsequently find positions in mainstream media, they come equipped with both the motivation and ability to influence public opinion."

The watchdog group further says in the report that Northwestern's campus in Doha "trains students to legitimize anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, and anti-American narratives in Western media." Once completing the program, students are pushed into mainstream media jobs where they can promote these views, according to the report.

One professor highlighted in the report, Sami Hermez, appeared to support Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in a 2007 posting at the Electronic Intifada website, which is known for its anti-Israel and anti-Zionist views.

"Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, general secretary of Hezbollah, is the leader of a movement claiming to fight for the right of self-determination, in the same way that Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela were leaders of movements that claimed similar ends," Hermez wrote. He is also affiliated with the BDS movement, according to Canary Mission’s findings.

Another professor, Ibrahim Abusharif, was a founder of the Quranic Literacy Institute, a nonprofit that was alleged to be acting as a "money-laundering clearing house" for the Hamas terror group. More than $1 million of the organization’s assets were seized in 2004 after it was found guilty of funding a Hamas strike that killed an American teenager in the West Bank, according to reports from the time.

Current students and graduates of the program also were found to hold extreme anti-Israel views.

Alaa Lami, whom the report cites as a current student studying journalism at the Doha campus and slated to graduate in 2024, said in a 2021 tweet, "I called ppl who said 'innocent israelis shouldnt die' zionist pigs on a uni group."

Another current student, Lujain Assaf, described Israel as "a colonizer and oppressor" and said that "Zionism is a violent racist ideology" in a 2020 tweet cited in the report.

Nawal Aqeel, who Canary Mission says graduated from the Northwestern-Qatar campus site, tweeted in 2014, "I wish Hitler was alive so he could exterminate the existence of Jews attacking the beautiful land of Gaza!"

Northwestern did not respond to a request for comment on the report and its findings.