Why Did Taxpayers Fund Antisemitic Hatefest at Penn?

Despite a sea of protests, the “Palestine Writes” festival at the University of Pennsylvania, which features a parade of convicted Palestinian terrorists, terrorism apologists and antisemites such as Roger Waters, whose concerts feature inflatable pigs marked with a Star of David and Waters dressed as a Nazi, will proceed as planned. 

That has been widely covered. What has received little attention, however, is that the anti-Jewish hatefest is funded in part by Pennsylvania taxpayers through a grant issued by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. In other words, Pennsylvania taxpayers are helping fund this river of hate. 

After public opposition rose about the event, the Council claimed its support was merely for an “anthology” of Palestinian writers. Now, backed by Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro, the Council has demanded that its insignia be removed from the festival’s website and promotional materials. 

Removing a state logo, however, is hardly enough while the money remains in the pockets of the celebrators of Jew hatred and government defrauders. Where is the demand that the taxpayer funds be returned and an investigation launched into how a Pennsylvania agency was deceived? 

Just to recap the reason for all this, here’s a list of some of the speakers at this hatefest disguised as literary festival: 

  • Mays a/k/a Mayss Abu Ghosh, a convicted terrorist, works with the terrorist groups Hezbollah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and explicitly supports violence as the “only road to Palestine.” 
  • Antisemitic musician Roger Waters, a prominent BDS activist whose concerts feature the crudest antisemitism and imagery. 
  • Huwaida Arraf, co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement which cooperates with the terrorist organizations Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the PFLP. 
  • Susan Abalhawa, Executive Director of Palestine Writes, who calls for terror wars against Israel, glorifies terrorists and likens Israelis to Nazis. 
  • Noura Erakat, who teaches others to use the (since revoked )1975 UN Zionism is Racism resolution. 
  • Disgraced former CNN correspondent and newly hired CUNY professor Marc Lamont Hill, who supports the effective elimination of Jewish Israel “From the river to the sea.” 
  • Anti-Israel professor-activist David Palumbo Liu, who has tweeted, “If Israel is not the most hated nation in the world, there is something deeply wrong with the world.” 
  • Anti-Israel agitator Reem Assil, who gained infamy for emblazoning one wall of her bakery with a mural idolizing PFLP mass murderer Rasmea Odeh. 
  • Aya Ghanameh, past president of Students for Justice in Palestine at Rhode Island School of Design, who says, “Yeah I support violent resistance and what about it?” 
  • Refaat Alareer, a professor at Islamic University of Gaza, who is on record as saying, “Are most Jews evil? Of course they are.” 

When Penn’s President Magill was called to account for the use of her campus to host this hatefest, she retreated to “academic freedom,” issuing a statement on behalf of the university leadership that they “fiercely support the free exchange of ideas as central to our educational mission.” 

But the Jew hatred from the speakers at this event gives the lie to that claim.  This isn’t about academics but about the crudest enmity against the Jewish people and Jewish national liberation.  And it’s clearer here than in most places that the overt hate speech directed at Jews would never be tolerated were it directed at another minority group. 

Thankfully, important influencers at Penn have made it clear they won’t remain silent about a celebration of Jew hatred at the university to which they give their time and money. On Friday, current members of Penn’s Board of Trustees signed an open letter to President Magill calling on her to take additional steps to distance the university from the hatefest. The letter was signed by more than 2,000 Penn alumni and University affiliates. 

Like many of us, these courageous voices understand that “academic freedom” is not an excuse to allow a festival of hate, not to mention be deserving of a penny from taxpayers. 

Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the legal director of The Deborah Project