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The Daily Tar Heel

What the Chancellor's Advisory Committee said about the Conflict over Gaza conference

Chancellor's Advisory Committee
The Chancellor's Advisory Committee holds a meeting on Wednesday, April 17, 2019 at South Building.

The Chancellor’s Advisory Committee held a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the latest involvements surrounding cases of potential anti-Semitism on campus. 

Interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz led the meeting. The Chancellor’s Advisory Committee consists of a group of delegates who directly advise and communicate with the chancellor on matters of importance. Members of the committee are either elected or hold an ex officio position, meaning they retain their position by virtue of its status. 

Much of the meeting focused on the controversy surrounding a video released last week showing Palestinian rapper Tamer Nafar making anti-Semitic remarks. Nafar had been performing at the FedEx Global Education Center as part of a Conflict over Gaza Conference co-sponsored by the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies. The comments made at the Nafar concert have caught the attention of U.S. Rep. George Holding, R-N.C., who called for a federal investigation into the conference on Monday. 

The video, released by conservative filmmaker Ami Horowitz, has sparked debate across campus. 

Delegate Ariana Vigil from the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies said she is Jewish and knows some organizers of the conference. While Vigil did not attend the performance, she was present for other aspects of the conference and disagrees with the anti-Semitic narrative being used. 

“I think if people, you know, took the time to look into it a little more, I think that these ideas that this was a anti-Semitic performance would be shot down pretty easily,” Vigil said. 

In a statement released to The Daily Tar Heel, UNC Global said that the video released was heavily edited. Despite the ambiguous nature of the video, Guskiewicz said the University stands firm under the rights given by the First Amendment. 

“It’s not always as clear-cut as we would like it to be,” Guskiewicz said. “But we stand firm on ensuring that free speech and academic freedom are upheld.” 

Given the nature of how the conference was funded, talk among the delegates shifted to the merits of whether University departments should be provided refunds for the money used to help fund the event. Delegate Suzanne Gulledge from the Department of Education said talks of withdrawing money are already underway within her department. 

“Our dean told us that he had requested to withdraw the funds that we used to support the event,” Gulledge said. “And the response from a number of faculty was, 'That is not enough.'” 

The Conflict over Gaza Conference hasn’t been the only incident to spark discussion regarding anti-Semitism on campus. Anti-Semitic posters were found at both Davis Library and Hamilton Hall last week. For Vigil, she said that an investigation into the posters should take top priority. 

“Those posters are anti-Semitic, there is no question whatsoever,” Vigil said. “That conference was not.”

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