The Trump administration may cut off funding for a Middle East studies program run by the University of North Carolina and Duke University because the program is misusing the federal money to promote the "the positive aspects of Islam" but not Christianity or Judaism.
The program has received grants for nearly a decade through a government program intended to prepare students for careers in diplomacy and national security. It got $235,000 last year.
The Education Department reviewed the program as part of a broader effort to root out anti-Semitism in universities, following a complaint from Rep. George Holding (R-N.C.) about a taxpayer-funded conference with "severe anti-Israeli bias and anti-Semitic rhetoric." The conference, titled "Conflict Over Gaza: People, Politics and Possibilities," included a rapper who performed a "brazenly anti-Semitic song," Holding said in an April 15 letter.
The probe found that the North Carolina program planned to use federal money on programs that are "plainly unqualified for taxpayer support," and said in an Aug. 29 letter to the schools that foreign language and national security instruction have "taken a back seat to other priorities." The letter said the program would be defunded if it wasn't revised by Sept. 22.
A statement from UNC-Chapel Hill said the consortium "deeply values its partnership with the Department of Education" and is "committed to working with the department to provide more information about its programs."