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.
— (((Ron Kampeas))) (@kampeas) December 12, 2019
“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.”
— Congressman Denver Riggleman (@RepRiggleman) October 29, 2019