WASHINGTON – Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, led by Ranking Member U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), are investigating the financial support underpinning the Rutgers University Center for Security, Race and Rights, which sponsors events featuring anti-Semitic speakers, individuals who justify violence against the State of Israel, terrorist sympathizers, and advocates of domestic radicalism.
The Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans wrote:
“The work of the Center, its promotion of terrorist sympathizers, and its platforming of radical ideologues is troubling to us as members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Committee has a long history of working on legislation meant to root out support for terrorism, and to compensate its victims. For example, in 2016 Congress passed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA)… As the Committee explores the efficacy of this legislation, particularly in the context of recent world events, it is appropriate to evaluate the financial backing of groups that seek to legitimize violence and provide platforms for terrorist sympathizers.”
In one letter, Judiciary Committee Republicans sought information from the President of Rutgers University and the Chair of its Board of Governors regarding the University’s support of the Center. In particular, the Senators are probing whether U.S. taxpayer dollars fund the Center, and what role foreign governments play in supporting the Center’s activities. This Center has received public, bipartisan condemnation, including from Democratic Representative Josh Gottheimer who described one of their events as “a platform to those affiliated with Palestinian Islamic Jihad.”
In a second letter, the Senators sought information from New York City law firm Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP which committee records indicate donated at least $13,000 to the Rutgers Center’s Law Fellows Program over the past three years, with donations increasing each year from $2,000 in 2021 to $6,000 in 2023. A cornerstone of the Law Fellows Program is a “one-on-one mentorship” with the Center’s Director, Professor Sahar Aziz, who regularly and publicly espouses “vile anti-Semitic propaganda.” As part of the congressional oversight process, Judiciary Committee staff requested an informal, non-public discussion with Patterson Belknap on this topic, but the firm declined.
Background on some of the Center’s events and affiliates: