Home News Burgess Owens corners elite university president over eye-popping donations from Hamas-harboring Qatar

Burgess Owens corners elite university president over eye-popping donations from Hamas-harboring Qatar

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Burgess Owens corners elite university president over eye-popping donations from Hamas-harboring Qatar

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Utah Republican Rep. Burgess Owens cornered Northwestern University President Michael Schill on the eye-popping sum in donations the elite school has reportedly received from Qatar amid a fiery exchange during a House hearing. 

“Do you think it’d be a good idea for the University of Northwestern to partner with a government that harbors terrorist Hamas, and Iranian operatives who fund terrorism? Yes or no?” Owens asked Schill, while sitting in front of a large billboard check prop depicting a $600 million donation from Qatar to Northwestern. 

“I’m not going to engage in yes or no answers,” Schill responded. 

“Obviously, you don’t have a problem with that,” Owens said. “Northwestern’s school of journalism …” Owens continued before he was cut off by Schill. 

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Burgess Owens in committee hearing

Utah Republican Rep. Burgess Owens in hearing with Northwestern President Michael Schill.  (The Committee on Education and the Workforce/Youtube)

“I’m really quite offended by you telling me what my views are,” Schill interjected. 

“Did you know that the Northwestern school of journalism has a formal partnership with Al Jazeera,” Owens pressed the president, who answered he was only recently made aware of the partnership. 

“I, in fact, just found out about that last week,” he responded. 

“Let me get you aware of it then. Because Al Jazeera, because of their pro-Hamas reporting, the Secretary of State Anthony Blinken asked the Qatar prime minister to tone down Al Jazeera’s anti Israel incitement,” he said. 

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce is holding a hearing Thursday titled, “Calling for Accountability: Stopping Antisemitic College Chaos,” where lawmakers are Schill, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block and Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway regarding their handling of campus antisemitism after widespread protests and agitators establishing tent encampments demanding schools divest from Israel. 

Presidents and chancellor of colleges facing congressional hearing

Northwestern President Michael Schill, Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway, and UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. (University of Oregon/Rutgers/Getty )

The school has come under increased scrutiny this year following a report showing Qatar, a nation that has sheltered Hamas terrorist leaders, donated roughly $690 million to the university since 2007. 

“Now, Mr. Schill, how much money has Northwestern University received from Qatar sources, including Qatar-connected entities at the Qatar Foundation?” Owens asked. 

Schill said he didn’t have the exact figure, while pointing to the billboard check sitting behind Owens in the meeting: “You have a check saying that amount.” Schill said the funds are used to maintain Northwestern’s satellite campus in Qatar. 

The House Education and Workforce Committee previously requested information from the school related to its ties with Al Jazeera, which is funded by the Qatari government, after students and alumni penned a letter arguing the partnership may have violated the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1952, the Washington Free Beacon previously reported. The act outlines that Americans cannot  provide “training, expert advice, or assistance” to terrorist organizations. 

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Northwestern became the first school in the nation earlier this month to publicly announce that university leaders struck a deal with campus agitators, allowing students to review school investments connected to Israel and to fund Palestinians-related scholarships and faculty salaries in exchange for protesters largely dismantling their encampment. 

“I’m trying to understand how you have negotiations … and by the way President Schill, would you have the same patience, the same strategy, if these were KKK white supremacists that were trying to negotiate that was actually attacking and intimidating Black people? Will just have the same patience for that.”

Schill said he would not answer a hypothetical question. 

Owens added in comment to Fox News Digital Thursday that there has been a “clear moral failure” on college campuses following Hamas’ attack on Israel in October. 

Protest van with message critical of Northwestern

Protest display outside of a law firm in Washington, D.C., where the Northwestern President Schill is preparing for a congressional hearing.  (Fox News Digital )

“Here’s the reality: 230 days ago, Hamas terrorists committed unspeakable atrocities, massacring innocent civilians, including women, children, and the elderly, and marking the deadliest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust. On campuses nationwide, privileged ‘Ivy League’ students cheer this barbarity, calling for the eradication of Israel and spewing blatantly anti-Jewish hate. The clear moral failure on our college campuses has reached new lows. Our message to these presidents is simple: Any college or university that coddles, appeases, or turns a blind eye to these pro-Hamas protestors will be held accountable.” Owens told Fox News Digital in comment Thursday. 

Northwestern also came under direct fire from New York Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik, who grilled Schill over the Anti-Defamation League downgrading the school to an “F” score in an antisemitism report card this year. 

“Isn’t it true that a Jewish student wearing a yarmulke was spat on,” Stefanik said, before asking how long Schill anticipates campus investigations will last regarding instances of antisemitism on campus

“I’m not going to be able to tell you that. They’ll be finalized when the conduct office and the Title VI office, which are well on this issue …” Schill said. 

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“This is why you’ve earned an F,” she said. 

Elise Stefanik holding up paper with "F" grade, left; right: Northwestern President Schill

Rep. Elise Stefanik and Northwestern’s President Michael Schill in House hearing.  (The Committee on Education and the Workforce/YouTube)

Schill also faced questioning amid the hearing regarding associate journalism professor Steven Thrasher, who has repeatedly justified Hamas’ attack on Israel in social media posts. Schill has repeatedly denied speaking about individual faculty members employed by the school. He said some staff have faced disciplinary action over their conduct during the protests, but did not identify anyone by name or how many staff members were reprimanded. 

Students and residents camp outside Northwestern University

Students and residents camp outside Northwestern University during a pro-Palestinian protest, expressing solidarity with Palestinians with banners in Evanston, Illinois, United States on April 27, 2024. (Jacek Boczarski/Anadolu via Getty Images)

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Fox News Digital previously reported Thrasher has repeatedly justified Hamas’ attack on Israel in social media posts and other writings. 

In a November blog post, “Tearing down the Wall,” Thrasher compared Gaza to a Nazi concentration camp, arguing, “We can feel compassion towards a desperate people stuck inside a Nazi concentration camp.” 

Professor Steven Thrasher

Steven Thrasher attends Out Magazine’s Out100 Event presented by Lexus on November 21, 2019 in Long Island City, New York.  (Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Out)

He also argued that if Jews were able to break free from concentration camps, they would have killed “anyone they found partying,” thus seemingly justifying Hamas’ attack on the Nova Music Festival on Oct. 7, when hundreds of people were killed and dozens of others taken hostage.

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“If the Jews being shot and shoveled into ovens could just break through that wall, of course, they would kill anyone they found partying right on the other side of it! And, of course, they would take women and children hostage and drag them back into their hell inside if doing so would give them leverage to free their fellow Jews from torture and death!” he wrote

Republican Florida Rep. Carlos Gimenez on Thursday posted a video to his X account calling for Thrasher’s resignation. 

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“The president from Northwestern has to explain to our education committee why he’s allowing these kinds of activities to happen at his university. Why he’s allowing antisemitism to fester in his university. And why he’s allowing Jewish students to feel threatened at his university. And I’m sure that our members of the Republican Party will take that president to task, and hopefully we can get him to resign,” Gimenez said. 

The committee holding the hearing Thursday is the same panel that grilled the presidents of Penn, Harvard and MIT last year about their handling of campus antisemitism. The hearing was shortly followed by Penn President Liz Magill and Harvard President Claudine Gay resigning from their positions amid widespread backlash for waffling on whether calls for the genocide of Jews violated their respective schools’ codes of conduct. 

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