Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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LTE: On ‘following the money’ behind pro-Palestinian protests

This opinion is a public response to an opinion article written by a fellow columnist at the Daily Northwestern, Mr. Stuart Gibson.

Mr. Gibson suggests “following the money” to understand the pro-Palestinian (i.e., pro-Hamas) protests occurring at college campuses across the US. Let us clarify something right away, pro-Palestinian should never be conflated with pro-Hamas, but it often is.

It is easier to dismiss the real issues Palestinians have been facing for decades now when they are labeled as terrorists. The truth is that the plurality of ordinary Palestinian citizens said that they “have no trust at all” or “not a lot of trust at all” in Hamas. In a recent survey by Arab Barometer, 73% of respondents said they did not share Hamas’ goal of eliminating Israel. President Biden also stated on X that the majority of Palestinian people are not Hamas, and the group does not represent the Palestinian people.

Mr. Gibson follows the money funding the pro-Palestinian campus protests to U.S. charities that have a direct link to Iran, its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its proxies, including Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthis in Yemen.

To support this claim, he cites a lawsuit filed in the federal district court of Virginia on behalf of American and Israeli survivors of Oct. 7. The lawsuit alleges that two leading pro-Palestinian groups in the U.S. are part of a Hamas propaganda recruitment network. I am surprised he stakes this claim on allegations that still need to be proven in a court of law.

Mr. Gibson also cites a report published by NGO Monitor. The report details the groups that support the anti-Israel protests on NU’s campus. Upon my initial reading of Mr. Gibson’s column, I was not going to refute this claim, but I enjoy muckraking and found some conflicts of interest that may make NGO Monitors reports biased, at the very least.

NGO Monitor is based in Jerusalem and enjoys support from the right-wing Israeli government and consistently promotes pro-Israeli propaganda. I would advise anyone, not just Mr. Gibson, that if a source aligns too closely with your own stances and biases, question it and do some further exploration.

Even if the above sources Mr. Gibson cites are all true, he fails to mention the intimate link between Israel and many institutions in America, including politics, business and mainstream media.
This, along with Israel being our strongest ally, has undeniably created a pro-Israel lean for the older generation in the U.S., of which Mr. Gibson is a part of.

To balance out Mr. Gibson’s argument, let’s follow the money on the pro-Israel side of things.

We would first arrive at the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, a unique lobbying group for a few reasons.

AIPAC is one of the only lobbying groups in the U.S. that focuses on advocating on behalf of a foreign government. It receives bipartisan support from both major political parties, a rarity, especially in a time of partisan polarization. AIPAC has an exceptional ability to fundraise. All of these circumstances have caused it to become one of the most influential lobbying groups in the U.S. political system.

AIPAC uses its fundraising to prop up pro-Israel candidates in our elections to push their agenda in Congress. The lobbying group openly brags about their ability to influence U.S. elections. Its website states all 48 AIPAC-backed Democrats won their primary races in 2024 as well as 69 AIPAC-backed Republicans. This staggering statistic would be intimidating for any candidate, making it very difficult to not join AIPAC and tow their line.

While Mr. Gibson claims that pro-Palestinian campus protests are being funded by Iran, he does not mention that Jessica Seinfeld, the wife of comedian Jerry Seinfeld, donated thousands of dollars to a pro-Israel protest at UCLA. Bill Ackman, the multimillionaire hedge fund manager, also donated to a GoFundMe campaign that funds “showings on campuses of Hamas GoPro footage,” according to his post on X, formerly Twitter. To claim that Iran is funding pro-Palestinian campus protests without mentioning that pro-Israel protests are being funded as well is deceitful journalism.

We need to also talk about what Mr. Gibson refers to as “pro-Palestinian (i.e., pro-Hamas)” sources of information. The only sources I can think of that align with Mr. Gibson’s claims are social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram. It is incorrect for him to believe that our generation’s pro-Palestinian lean comes from pro-Palestinian sources.

A report by TikTok upends this claim. TikTok newsroom article cites a 2006-2016 Pew Research Center study finding that support for the Palestinian cause has increased in Americans born after 1980, long before TikTok was even an idea.

If anything, media sources are pro-Israel in this country.

The Intercept analyzed the text of more than 1,000 articles from the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times about the war in Gaza and found a significant imbalance in the way Israelis and pro-Israel figures are covered versus Palestinians and pro-Palestinian voices — with usages that favor Israeli narratives over Palestinian ones.

The last thing I must address is the claim of Mr. Gibson denying that genocide is occurring in Gaza at the hands of Israel. It is easy to see the intent of genocide from the dehumanizing quotes of Israeli leaders cited in South Africa’s application to the ICJ. An Israeli army reservist stated, “Erase the memory of them. Erase them, their families, mothers, and children. These animals can no longer live.”

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, stated that Israel needed to “defeat the bloodthirsty monsters who have risen against Israel to destroy us.”

An IDF Major General warned, “Human animals are dealt with accordingly. Israel has imposed a total blockade on Gaza, no electricity, no water, just damage. You wanted hell, you will get hell.” There are plenty more quotes in the application that echo the same genocidal intent.

Mr. Gibson concludes that campus protestors should refrain from carrying water for terrorists and instead support peace and justice here and in Israel. I am not carrying water for terrorists, I am carrying water for humanity and morality; I simply do not want to see 35,000 fellow human beings, mostly women and children, dead at the hands of Israeli and American leaders.

Clarification: This story has been updated to better characterize Bill Ackman’s donation.

Melissa Duda is a second-year graduate student in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. She can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this letter, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.

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