News and Commentary

COPE: Academia And Think Tanks Must Boycott Qatar
A general view taken on December 20, 2019 shows boats moored in front of the skyline of the Qatari capital, Doha.

Since 2017, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt have boycotted Qatar due to its overwhelming support for terrorism. While this multilateral call to action should have raised alarm, the American public remained largely silent, effectively condoning Qatar’s abuses — its overwhelming sponsorship of terrorism, and its slave-like labor conditions that could kill 4,000 stadium workers before the Qatar-hosted 2022 World Cup’s opening whistle.

With the grace of relative impunity, Qatar has had the latitude to tailor its reputation, whitewash its vices, and advance its pro-terrorist agenda. Qatar has done so by infecting America’s minds and academia through propaganda and funding. It has done so three-fold, with the latter two methods being my primary focus here. First, Qatar has infiltrated American media, attracting 11+ million Facebook followers through AJ+, an ostensibly progressive channel that proxies for Al Jazeera, Qatar’s state-run network that is known to glorify terrorists as “martyrs.” Second, Qatar has donated nearly $1.5 billion to U.S. primary schools and universities, promoting its image and radicalizing curricula. Lastly, Qatar has funded think tanks, thereby censoring criticism.

To preserve both academic freedom and morality, academia and think tanks must sever all future ties to and funding from the Qatari government. This would undermine Qatars grooming efforts while also raising the awareness of students — who are, by definition, America’s future — to Qatar’s abuses. It would also challenge Qatar to either reform or risk suffering the reputational harm that it so manifestly deserves.

Qatar’s extensive influence efforts whitewash and masquerade the terrorism that it champions. Qatar has funded Hamas — a terrorist organization vowing Israels destruction — with $1.1 billion since 2012 and formerly provided billions of dollars to Mohamed Morsi’s deposed Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt. Qatar’s emir enables Hamas to convene in Doha’s hotels, and the emir openly celebrates the jihadist outfit. He observed that “Qatar supports ‘all Palestinian people. We believe Hamas is a very important part of the Palestinian people.” Qatar also harbors high-profile terrorists like Khaled Meshaal, who formerly headed Hamass political bureau, 20 high-profile members of the Afghani Taliban, and key financiers of terror like Khalifa Al Subaiy, “the mastermind behind 9/11.” Not to mention infamous top Muslim Brotherhood cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Between financing, harboring, and sponsoring terror, Qatar fuels essentially every step of militant jihad.

Through its funding, Qatar has also sought to influence the curricula of American primary schools and universities: Georgetown, Texas A&M (TAMU), Cornell, Carnegie Mellon, Northwestern, and Virginia Commonwealth. Of the aforementioned, all enjoy campuses in Qatar at the annual estimated $404.8 million expense of the Qatar Foundation (QF), “a state-supported NGO” that is controlled by the Qatari government.

Founded by the former emir, the QF seeks the “development of [Qatar] that would provide Qatari citizens with a greater choice in education, health and social progress.” In other words, the QF furthers Qatari government interests with its anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, and pro-terrorism sentiment. Hence, the Middle East Forum’s Sam Westrop (a Daily Wire contributor) observes that the QF “bestows awards upon Hamas leaders” and “works with charities … accused of funding terrorism.” Further, Americans for Peace and Tolerance notes that the QF has sponsored curricula “propagandized with materials that slander … the Jewish people.” The QF has also sought to forge American allegiance to the Qatari government. Hence, its flagship curriculum project, one “heavily promoted in American schools,” teaches a lesson entitled, “Express Your Loyalty to Qatar.” The QF endorses terror, anti-Semitism, and allegiance to Qatar — phenomena antithetical to morality and academic freedom. Think tanks and academia must thus reject all future funding from this troubled emirate.

Despite the QF’s explicit ties to Qatar, the largest foreign funder of American universities since 2012, universities continue to embrace its beneficence. Two of the largest “benefactors” have been Georgetown and TAMU. Whereas in 2018, Georgetown accepted $33 million of its $36 million in foreign donations from the QF, TAMU pocketed $6.1 million, totaling all of its foreign funding. In 2018, nearly all of these universities’ foreign funding came from Qatar; and since 2012 and 2014, respectively, the two have respectively received $415 million and $285 million in foreign funding, suggesting the overwhelming influence of Qatari funding in American education. Other universities that have received Qatari funding include Arizona State, Harvard, Illinois, Johns Hopkins, Michigan, North Carolina, NYU, Oregon State, Purdue, Penn State, the University of Chicago, the University of Southern California, Washington, and Washington University in St. Louis. Northwestern also has a partnership with Al Jazeera, a Qatari television network that regularly promotes terror.

Qatar’s efforts to groom also extend to U.S. primary schools. Between 2009 and 2017, the QF donated $30.6 million to subsidize “teacher training, materials, and salaries,” while also “targeting K-12 public schools with lofty grants,” some of which have been used to send students to Qatar and on other “cultural trips” to “the Qatari embassy in D.C.” Thereby, Qatari money, while normalizing Qatar’s image, also effectively regulates primary school classroom curricula.

The QF has also coerced think tanks into submission — particularly the Brookings Institution and its center in Doha, to which it has given tens of millions of dollars. As counter-Islamist activist David Reaboi has noted, “spending a lot of money is the easiest way to change … a public policy narrative.” A former visiting fellow for Brooking, Saleem Ali, has confirmed the extent of Qatar’s influence at its Doha office, acknowledging a “no-go zone when it came to criticizing the Qatari government.” Having effectively censored the Brookings Institution, the Qatari government also directly and indirectly funds the Middle East Institute and the Gulf International Forum.

These efforts ultimately reflect Qatars will to regulate American thought through the media, classroom, and the think tank. To redeem academic integrity, and to reject Qatar’s terrorism, the supposed vanguard of American thought and values — academia and think tanks — must boycott the Qatari government. Such boycotts would captivate student bodies, raise large-scale attention to Qatar’s abuses, and shame Qatar into either reform or accountability.


Jordan Cope is currently a law student at the University of Texas at Austin, where he also completed his undergraduate degree. Having graduated with a B.A. in international relations, Jordan also minored in Middle Eastern studies and can speak Arabic and Hebrew. He has also published research on the security implications of Palestinian foreign aid. He can be followed @JordanCope12.

RELATED: Al Jazeera’s Disgraceful Holocaust-Denying Video Showcases Qatari Evil For All To See.

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