Indiana Democratic congressional candidate Joe Bock has a scholarship named after him at the Palestinian Al Quds University, a controversial institution that has come under fire for holding on its campus an anti-Israel rally that featured students dressed in military gear giving the traditional Nazi salute.
Bock, who is fighting to unseat Republican Rep. Jackie Walorski, has not much discussed the issue of Israel while on the campaign trail.
However, his past work with a group known for its anti-Israel activism, as well a scholarship in his name at Al Quds, could raise questions with some voters as Bock looks to defeat Walorski, who has built a record in Congress as a pro-Israel ally.
Listed on the Al Quds University’s "thanks" section of its website is the Dr. Joseph Bock Scholarship, which the university says reflects the donor’s "support to the educational process in Palestine, especially in these difficult situation Palestinian pass through [sic]."
While Bock’s controversial ties have not received much media attention, organizations such as the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) have highlighted his anti-Israel past.
"Joe Bock has a history of supporting pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel institutions including Al Quds University, Caritas Inernationalis, and the [United Nations’] Division for Palestinian Rights," the RJC wrote on its website, highlighting the difference between Bock and his Republican opponent.
Al Quds University itself has long been a lighting rod for controversy.
The school came under intense scrutiny from pro-Israel leaders after Islamic Jihad’s student faction held on the school’s campus what critics called a "Nazi-style" military rally.
After the Washington Free Beacon and other media outlets reported on the controversial event, Al Quds officials referred to critics as "Jewish extremists," a comment that led American schools such as Brandeis University to sever its relationship with the Palestinian institution.
Bock’s relationship with the school has drawn scrutiny in light of criticism from both Democrats and Republicans who have called Al Quds’ ties to Hamas unacceptable.
"It is outrageous that U.S. taxpayer dollars are going toward institutions that support terrorists," former Rep. Gary Ackerman (D., N.Y.) was quoted as saying by the Washington Times during a 2007 congressional hearing on the university’s extremist ties, which also include on-campus rallies in support of the person who created the suicide belt.
In addition to his ties to Al Quds, Bock has worked alongside Caritas, a Catholic aid organization that has long taken anti-Israel positions including support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction movement.
"Caritas represents Israel as an evil state directing an unjust war against an innocent people," NGO Monitor wrote in an analysis of the group’s work.
"Not only does Caritas morph the actions and motivations of an Israeli democracy into a malicious aggressor, the organization alternatively ignores the complicity in terror of the authoritarian Palestinian leadership, its organizations, or other groups operating in the West Bank and Gaza, or blames the Israelis, the victims, for provoking such attacks," NGO Monitor wrote.
Bock and his wife Susan also back the Christian Sabeel organization via its North American branch, Friends of Sabeel, which has listed the Bocks in its "circle of friends."
Sabeel, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which tracks hate groups, has been a "driving force behind various Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns against Israel."
"Sabeel’s efforts to demonize Israel and Israelis have also featured charges of deicide against Jews; they have compared Palestinians to a modern-day Jesus and accused Israel of engaging in a ‘crucifixion’ of these Palestinians," according to the ADL’s profile of Sabeel.
Bock’s campaign did not respond to a phone message or email seeking further clarification of Bock’s views on Israel and the Al Quds scholarship in his name.