U.S. Money Supported a Nonprofit Linked to Pro-Terror Schools in Palestine

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The Department of Education and the National Endowment for the Humanities allocated $1,508,888 between 2010 and 2022 to a research institution with strong connections to two Palestinian universities that are known for their ties to terrorism.

The Palestinian American Research Center (PARC) has long maintained a close relationship with Birzeit University and An-Najah National University, located in the West Bank cities of Birzeit and Nablus, respectively. PARC has organized multiple delegations to both universities and even hosted a conference at Birzeit. Recently, groups of Hamas affiliates were arrested at both institutions, and Hamas-affiliated parties have majority representation on both universities’ student councils.

Aside from the Department of Education and the National Endowment for the Humanities, PARC receives funding through a federally-approved passthrough organization named the Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC). CAORC’s funding sources include the State Department, the U.S. Department of Education, the Smithsonian Institution, and private foundations, according to its website. Its mission is to promote “advanced research … conservation and recording of cultural heritage and the understanding and interpretation of modern societies.”

Between 2018 and 2022, PARC received over half a million dollars from CAORC as “pass-through subgrants,” according to tax forms. A pass-through organization allows a federal grant to be distributed into sub-awards and provided to local entities.

PARC’s support for Birzeit University became evident when it sent delegations there in May of 2022 and 2023 to “foster connections and expand research collaboration.” The school is also featured under “Orgs on Palestine” on PARC’s website, suggesting the group endorses the university’s scholarship.

Four of the 21 members listed on PARC’s “Who We Are” page either currently work at or have previously worked at Birzeit University; one is co-directing a Birzeit University project, and another member earned a degree there. A PARC-sponsored panel at the 2023 Middle East Studies Association (MESA) Annual Meeting was organized by a Birzeit University professor.

Less than two weeks before Hamas launched an attack on Oct. 7, killing over 1,200 Israelis and kidnapping more than 200, Israeli security forces arrested eight suspects from a terrorist cell at Birzeit University who were planning an “immediate” terrorist attack.

The university itself publicly supported Hamas after the Oct. 7 attacks, tweeting from its official account on Oct. 10, “Glory for martyrs,” a slogan widely understood to glorify terrorists killed in the conflict. In December, a Birzeit University tweet commemorated the anniversary of the First Intifada, calling it “a perfect example of national unity,” despite its reality as a period of increased violence.

Birzeit University enrolled its first class of Israel Studies master’s students in 2015, according to an article by PARC director Rebecca Stein. A 2017 graduate of the program, Marah Khalifeh, said the program equipped her with “knowledge” that is “part of knowing your enemy.” Fakher Eldin, a professor affiliated with the program, also referred to Israel as “your enemy.”

In May 2023, the Hamas-linked Islamic Allegiance Bloc of Birzeit’s student council won 25 out of 51 seats, while the group associated with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party secured 20 seats. Fatah currently dominates the Palestinian Authority, which incentivizes attacks against Israelis through its “pay for slay” program that provides financial rewards to Palestinians responsible for killing Jews.

Among the 21 members of PARC’s leadership team, nearly all have ties with the Institute for Palestine Studies (IPS), and are listed on IPS’s website. IPS also has strong associations with Birzeit University; in the fall of 2022, IPS was the organizing office for a conference held at the university.

Birzeit has published numerous calls for papers for IPS’s Journal of Palestine Studies. On Oct. 10, 2023 — just three days post the massacre of Israelis — the call was for papers exploring how media “elevate and affirm forms of Palestinian resistance.”

In addition to its ties with Birzeit, PARC appears to maintain strong connections with An-Najah National University, described by Hamas as a “greenhouse for martyrs.” Hamas member Qais Adwan, a former head of the An-Najah student council from the Islamic Bloc, also led the Qassam Brigades in the northern West Bank.

In January 2024, Israeli security forces arrested nine students from an An-Najah Hamas student cell. This followed a May 2023 student government election in which the Islamic Bloc, Hamas’ student wing, secured 40 seats, representing a majority.

In 2021, 11 An-Najah students were arrested for transferring funds, holding rallies supporting Hamas, and organizing incitement to violence under senior Hamas officials’ leadership.

Although PARC Executive Director Penelope Mitchell’s two visits to An-Najah — first in 2015 and again in July 2018 — were before these significant arrests, An-Najah’s links to terrorism have been recognized since at least 2014.

Board member Rebecca Stein also visited An-Najah in November 2018, and another member, Samah Saleh, is an assistant professor in the university’s Department of Social Work.

Like Birzeit University, An-Najah is also listed on PARC’s website under “Orgs on Palestine,” suggesting that PARC endorses An-Najah’s educational activities.

Neither PARC nor CAORC responded to requests for comment.


Naomi Grant is a research intern at Capital Research Center in Washington, D.C.

Naomi Grant
Naomi Grant
Contributor. Naomi Grant was a research intern at Capital Research Center in Washington, D.C. She holds a master's degree in international relations from Johns Hopkins.

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