On Accepting and Rejecting Donations

The head of the MIT Media Lab, Joichi Ito, was forced to resign when people learned that he accepted donations from Jeffrey Epstein after he had pleaded guilty to soliciting prostitution from a minor. Ito also resigned from several other boards in short order.

While institutions need donors’ money to exist and operate, they are becoming reluctant to be associated with certain types of individuals – in this case, taking money from someone who committed crimes against minors.

This is part of a growing trend of considering the source of donations, particularly among not-for-profit institutions.

Consider The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York which stated it will no longer accept donations from the Sackler family. While the Sacklers were not convicted of a crime, the Met felt that the owners of Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyCotin, were responsible for “the ensuing public health crisis surrounding the abuse of these medications.” While the proper use of the drug helped many, the abuse of the drug became an epidemic causing the Met to conclude that the association with the Sacklers was toxic to the image and values that it wanted to portray. The simplified math was the Sacklers equaled Purdue equaled OxyCotin equaled opioid overdoses and death which should never equal the Met. Goodbye Sackler dough.

In June 2019, the University of Alabama decided to return the largest donation in its history after the donor called for a boycott of the State of Alabama and the university for passing a very restrictive abortion law. The university said that it did so because of the donor’s “ongoing attempts to interfere in the operations of the Law School.

The cases above highlight institutions returning donations because the donor either tarnished the institution’s brand image or actually sought to harm operations.

Some politicians have similarly returned donations from people who are associated with “sinful” activities like e-cigarettes. Sometimes the action is spurred by activists demanding that an institution return donations from companies who profit from actions deemed harmful, like immigrant detention facilities or, on the opposite side of the coin, demand a donor recall a personal donation or risk a massive boycott of their businesses.

In short, cash donations are no longer considered neutral currency of exchange but a binding seal between giver and recipient.

So what is one to make of noted Israel-basher Linda Sarsour raising money for Jewish causes, like repairing vandalized Jewish cemeteries? Are her vile comments about Israel and activists like Ayaa Hirsi Ali as well as association with anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan reasons to reject her funds? Many Jewish groups want her to be banned from speaking at forums or even entering Canada, while others are content to take her funds and ignore her more evil inclinations.

Universities are typically the most likely to turn the cheek while they open their pockets.

The New York University and many other colleges take in millions of dollars from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a country that openly executes minors as well as people who convert from Islam (apostasy), a fundamental human right. Yet no one batted an eyelash, until the Saudi government was accused of murdering a journalist. Suddenly, it became common knowledge that several U.S. universities had taken over $600 million from the Saudi government and Saudi companies. Those universities, not coincidentally, had become hotbeds for anti-Israel activity, including Columbia University, Tufts University, and the University of Southern California with each school receiving at least $1 million and George Washington University receiving $12 million in 2017. MIT received $78 million from the Saudis between 2011 and 2017.

Saudi Arabia’s funding of American universities paled compared to Qatar, which gave over $1 billion between 2011 and 2017. Qatar openly funds Hamas, a U.S. State Department designated foreign terrorist organization, and an openly anti-Semitic organization. No matter. Georgetown, Carnegie Mellon, and Northwestern established satellite campuses in the small country.

Curiously, there is virtually no public outcry about universities taking hundreds of millions of dollars from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Without a protest, it is highly unlikely that these institutions of “higher learning” will do anything.

Consider the situation when Islamic antisemitism went into global overdrive in mid- 2000 just before the start of the Second Intifada, pushing money and narratives of Jews and Israel as enemies of the entire world, most notably manifest in the 2001 Durban Conference about Racism. In July 2000, the president of the United Arab Emirates, Sheik Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan, donated $2.5 million to the Harvard Divinity School to endow the Sheik Zayed Al Nahyan Professorship in Islamic Religious Studies. Within a short period of time, the Zayed Center became a noxious fountain of anti-Semitic screed complete with Holocaust denials and blood libels. It took the non-profit group The David Project and a student at the Harvard Divinity School, Rachel Fish, to loudly protest the donation and Center itself. Harvard did nothing for years, but ultimately returned the gift in July 2004, but not before hosting speakers like former president Jimmy Carter and former Vice President Al Gore.


Jeffrey Epstein and Sheik Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan: too hot to handle

For the most part, Qatar and Saudi Arabia’s funding of terrorism and anti-Semitism has not irked the American public. Organizations only started to return funds to Saudi Arabia – like the Endeavor talent agency – after the murder of the journalist in October 2018. It would appear that the well-being of journalists ranks much higher than of children or Jews.

The dirty money does not only go towards research or new Islamic study departments at American universities. Oftentimes the money is for paying for scholarships to send tens of thousands of Muslim students into American campuses.

In the 2017/18 school year, Saudi Arabia had over 44,000 students studying in American universities – the fourth largest total in the world and as much as every country in South America COMBINED (a population 13 times as large). That total was actually down from the 2016/17 school year when there were over 52,000 Saudi students, and lower then the incredible 61,287 in 2015/16 – an astounding one Saudi student in the United States for every 537 people from that country. To give that figure context, that’s the equivalent of 610,000 American students studying in a single country, while the actual number of US students studying abroad, all over the world, was 330,000.

The enormous number of students coming from Saudi Arabia was the part of the Obama Administration’s outreach to the Muslim Middle East. The United States permitted greater numbers of students from Muslim countries than anywhere else in the world. That policy reversed course under the Trump Administration, as seen in the table below showing the annual change in the number of foreign students in the U.S.

Year Middle East Europe Asia Latin America
2012/13 25.6% 0.5% 7.3% 3.8%
2013/14 21.4% 1.2% 8.1% 8.2%
2014/15 11.9% 4.3% 10.3% 19.4%
2015/16 4.5% 1.4% 9.9% -1.7%
2016/17 -8.4% 1.0% 6.5% -6.2%
2017/18 -9.0% -0.2% 3.2% 0.3%

NYU, Harvard, Columbia, MIT and many other universities have been taking hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of students from corrupt Islamic regimes who finance terror and spur antisemitism. As many American institutions have begun to return tainted money from the likes of the Sacklers and Jeffrey Epstein, it is similarly time to send the money and students back to their point of origin.


Related First.One.Through articles:

An Easy Boycott: Al Jazeera (Qatar)

Buckets of Deplorable Presidential Endorsements

Rep. Ilhan Omar and The 2001 Durban Racism Conference

The Many Lies of Jimmy Carter

Paying to Murder Jews: From Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Iran to the Palestinian Authority

Related First.One.Through video:

Drive Saudi Arabia (music by The Cars)

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