Education Department to probe UNC-Duke conference on Gaza after allegations of anti-Semitism emerge

The Department of Education will investigate the potential bias of a taxpayer-funded college conference which the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill hosted in partnership with Duke University earlier this year, after allegations of anti-Semitism surfaced at the event, according to a letter obtained Monday by Fox News.

Rep. George Holding, a North Carolina Republican, told Fox News in a statement that he had sent a letter to Education Secretary Besty DeVos in April about the March conference entitled “Conflict Over Gaza: People, Politics, and Possibilities.”

Holding claimed the conference featured “severe anti-Israeli bias and explicit anti-Semitism.”

Education Secretary Besty DeVos is investigating the potential bias of a taxpayer-funded college conference after concerns raised by Republican Rep. George Holding of North Carolina. (Getty/George Holding, File)

Education Secretary Besty DeVos is investigating the potential bias of a taxpayer-funded college conference after concerns raised by Republican Rep. George Holding of North Carolina. (Getty/George Holding, File)

In his letter to DeVos, the congressman said about the conference, “Reportedly, speakers and panelists distorted facts and misrepresented the complex situation in Gaza.” He added: “Examination of the official program reveals that several of the conference’s speakers are actively involved in the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.”

He also alleged that a rapper performed a brazenly anti-Semitic song at the conference.

The event's organizers did not immediately respond to Fox News' requests for comment.

The conference used $5,000 in grant money from the Education Department, The Raleigh News & Observer reported.

DeVos wrote to Holding that: “Grantees must use funds to support activities that ‘reflect diverse perspectives and a wide range of vires and generate debate on world regions and international affairs.’”

She added: “I am troubled by the concerns outlined in your letter. In order for the Department to learn more about this matter, I have directed the Office of Postsecondary Education to examine the use of funds under this program to determine if the Consortium violated the terms and conditions of its grant.”

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The Education Department did not comment to Fox News.

Holding told Fox News: “I’d like to thank Secretary DeVos for treating this matter with the seriousness and attention it deserves. I hope we can all agree that it is irresponsible and immoral for taxpayer dollars to fund overtly biased advocacy under the guise of constructive academic discourse.”