After Trump executive order, GOP lawmaker tries to get Georgetown funding pulled over ‘anti-Israel, pro-Islamist’ bias

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On December 11, President Trump signed an executive order that effectively weaponizes antisemitism as a cudgel to beat back BDS activities on college campuses. The order threatens to withhold federal funding from universities if the government determines that they’ve failed to prohibit discrimination.

Trump’s move was barely announced before a member of congress attempted to use the new playbook. Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-VA) has sent a letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos asking for Georgetown University to be investigated over its alleged anti-Israel bias. The news was reported on Twitter by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s Washington bureau chief Ron Kampeas.

“I have recently become aware of systematic support for biased, anti-American, pro-BDS individuals and scholarship at Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies that are not in accordance with the mission of Title VI funds and contrary to America’s national security interests…The so-called Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement is a dagger aimed at the heart of one of America’s closest allies, Israel,” reads the letter. Riggleman cites a report on Georgetown faculty from Islamophobic commentator Daniel Pipes’s website as the basis behind his concerns.

Riggleman was elected to Virginia’s 5th district in 2018, beating his Democratic opponent, the investigative journalist Leslie Cockburn, with 53% of the vote. This September he traveled to Israel as part of an AIPAC-sponsored trip and, like many Republican members of that delegation, returned to criticize the push for a two-state solution. “The United States must step back and simply support Israel’s right to exist and to secure itself,” he declared at the time, “There is no easy fix.”

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“The United States must step back and simply support Israel’s right to exist and to secure itself,” says congressman Riggleman. This “right to exist” zombie refuses to die. Once more, for any walking dead out there: “There is no such thing as a state’s “right to exist”, period. No such right is recognized under international law. Nor could there logically be any such right. The very concept is absurd. Individuals, not abstract political entities,… Read more »

Well, I think that very idea of international law implies that each ‘nation’ to which the law applies has a duty to refrain from attacks on others unless with exceptional provocation and justification per some version of just war theory. From this it follows that each of these ‘nations’ has a corresponding right not to be attacked unless for corresponding wrongdoing. In that sense there is a right to exist.

The Trump anti BDS move is important and interesting. Important as a milestone of the Trump administration battle against Palestinian sympathies and interesting as this redefining of the Jews for a technical legal purpose raises a deep question solving a superficial need. Just wish to mention that to Pittsburgh and Poway we must now add Jersey City of this current era. Compared to the bloodbath of American deaths from gun violence it might not seem… Read more »

Denver Riggleman thinks BDS is a “dagger”? A mortal threat to Israel? What utter rubbish. BDS does compiicate Israel’s continuing effort to trample on the right of the non-Jews in the occupied West Bank to have their own state.