by WorldTribune Staff, August 8, 2017
A New York congressman is calling on the U.S. Department of Education to investigate an Iranian government-controlled foundation’s funneling of millions of dollars to U.S. universities, including several in the Ivy League.
The Alavi Foundation has distributed more than $50 million in grants since its foundation in 1973, including to Ivy League schools Harvard, Columbia and Princeton, according to a report by The Algemeiner.
“Did this foundation attempt to subvert American academic institutions?” asked Rep. Dan Donovan, New York Republican. “We need to investigate this, and universities have to do a better job of vetting their donors.”
The New York City-based Alavi Foundation, which critics contend has funded anti-Israel and pro-Iran academics, says that its goals are to promote Persian culture and interfaith dialogue and insists that it operates independently of the Iranian government.
A Manhattan jury, however, determined in June that the foundation was controlled by the Iranian government. The jury’s decision was the culmination of a nine-year legal battle in which federal prosecutors successfully charged that Alavi’s management of its office building on New York’s Fifth Avenue violated U.S .sanctions against Iran.
The $500 million property was seized by the U.S. government, which plans to sell it and distribute a large portion of the proceeds to victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorism.
Among the documents produced at the trial over the New York building was a 1991 letter written by one of the Alavi Foundation’s directors affirming that he would step down in accordance with a directive from Iran’s supreme leader.
“Under the worst and most sensitive of political conditions between America and Iran, we have succeeded in fully protecting and expanding the foundation’s interests, which in truth belongs to the people of Iran,” the director wrote. “We were also able to successfully carry out cultural and Islamic activities in the country of the Great Satan.”
According to the last available figures for donations to universities by the Alavi Foundation, Harvard was awarded over $600,000 and more than $500,000 was given to Catholic schools, including the Catholic University of America and Sacred Heart University.
Journalist Jordan Schachtel reported a sharp increase in 2016 in the number of universities partnering with the Alavi Foundation, including Bard College, the University of Virginia and Brandeis University.