Owens Grills Northwestern President Over Financial Ties to Terrorist-Harboring Qatar

WASHINGTON —Higher Education and Workforce Development Chair Burgess Owens (UT-04) participated in a full Committee hearing with the presidents of Northwestern, Rutgers, and UCLA titled “Calling for Accountability: Stopping Antisemitic College Chaos.” 

During the hearing, Rep. Owens pressed Northwestern University President Michael Schill on the treatment of students who participated in anti-Israel encampments, including the university’s negotiations and concessions that led to the end of the campus encampment.

Rep. Owens: “President Schill, would you have the same patience, the same strategy, if these were KKK white supremacists that you were trying to negotiate [with], that were actually attacking and intimidating Black people? Would you have the same patience with that?”

President Schill: “Representative Owens, thank you for the question. I’m not going to engage in hypotheticals like that.”

Rep. Owens: “This is how you deal with hatred. I’m trying to give you a kind of understanding that we’re talking about Jewish students. If it was Black students against the KKK, instead of pro-Hamas, would you deal with it in the same exact way as you dealt with these students?”

President Schill: “I’m not going to engage in hypotheticals.”

Rep. Owens: “Alright, so the answer is no. Okay, let’s move on. I’ll just say this: It’s striking that you decided to negotiate a sweetheart deal with pro-Hamas students and professors that denied October 7th—they either denied or celebrated it or they simply don’t care. I looked at that as pure evil.”

Rep. Owens also questioned the university’s connection to the Qatari government, from which Northwestern has received more than $600 million.

Rep. Owens: “Mr. Schill, how much money has Northwestern University received from Qatari sources? Including Qatar connected entities at the Qatar Foundation?

President Schill: “The amount that we have received from the Qatar Foundation to fund our campus in Qatar. All of the resources that we have got – and there’s been a lot—”

Rep. Owens: “I’m looking for short answers. I only have about three minutes left. So, How much?”

President Schill: “I don’t have the dollar number, you have a check.”

Rep. Owens: “Let’s say between $500 and $700 million.”

President Schill: “Every dollar has gone to the operation of the campus or the management of the campus.”

Rep. Owens: “We’d like to have a complete, transparent accounting to just how much exactly is coming from this. Are you aware this is the same Qatar government that has partnered with—that currently harbors the leaders of Hamas and are estimated to have given the terrorist organization of Hamas about $1.8 billion? Are you aware of that?”

President Schill: “They are harboring those leaders with the knowledge—”

Rep. Owens: “Yes or no, are you aware that 1.8 billion has been given to Hamas from Qatar?”

President Schill: “This is not my area of expertise.”

Rep. Owens: “Are you aware that the Iranian officials travel in and out of Doha to meet with Hamas?”

President Schill: “This is not in my area of expertise.”

Rep. Owens: “If this was true, do you think it would be a good idea for the University of Northwestern to partner with a government that harbors terrorists, Hamas and Iranian operatives who fund terrorism? Yes or no?”

President Schill: “I’m not going to engage in yes or no answers.”

Rep. Owens: “Okay. So obviously you don’t have a problem with that.”

Rep. Owens concluded his testimony by asking President Schill about the connection between Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism and the media outlet Al Jazeera, a partnership that has been denounced by Northwestern alumni affiliated organizations for its role in spreading Hamas propaganda following the October 7th attack on Israel.

Rep. Owens: “Northwestern’s school of journalism has a formal partnership with a Qatar media outlet Al Jazeera. Did you know that?”

President Schill: “I, in fact, just found out about that last week.”

Rep. Owens: “Let me make you aware of it then, because Al Jazeera – because of their pro-Hamas reporting – the Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, asked the Qatar Prime Minister to tone down Al Jazeera’s anti-Israel incitement. Also, it was Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt that have blocked Al-Jazeera because they are a pro-Hamas mouthpiece. My understanding is that you have a contract with the Qatar Foundation that expires at the end of the 2027-2028 academic year. Now that you know about Qatar, are you going to still renew that contract?

President Schill: “The review of that contract is being done by the Provost Office—”

Rep. Owens: “Al Jazeera is a mouthpiece for Hamas. Are you willing to end that partnership?”

President Schill: “The decision with respect to the Qatar campus is ultimately the Board of Trustees, and I actually am concerned by the agreement that you’re talking about with Al Jazeera, and we are going to look into it.”

Rep. Owens: “This is an issue that I’m thankful we’re pulling the curtains back, because this is not just beginning now. Obviously this has been going on a long, long time. We’re going to make sure we keep following this. Thank you, and I yield back.”

The full hearing is available here

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