by Tammi Benjamin
Demonstrates Title VI of Higher Education Act, Which Congress Set To Reauthorize, Not Working
San Francisco, CA, September 17, 2014 – As Congress begins to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA), leading organizations focused on education policy, the Jewish community and civil rights cite an AMCHA Initiative study as primary evidence that the law is not working and needs to be rewritten.
The 10 organizations, which include Accuracy in Academia, The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, today sent the AMCHA Initiative study to the leaders of the House Education and Workforce Committee and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
“AMCHA Initiative issued a report chronicling the public outreach activities of UCLA’s Center for Near East Studies,” wrote the groups in their joint statement to Education Committee members. The statement cited the results of AMCHA’s report as significant evidence that “Middle East centers funded under Title VI have failed to comply with federal law, by using taxpayer dollars to present biased, anti-American, anti-Israel views in their outreach programs.”
The Antisemitic Activity and Anti-Israel Bias at the Center for Near East Studies, University of California at Los Angeles 2010 – 2013 Report tracked antisemitic discourse and anti-Israel bias in public events sponsored by UCLA’s Center for Near East Studies (CNES) over a three-year period, from 2010 – 2013. It concluded that CNES events disproportionately focused on Israel and the Israeli-Arab conflict, with 93% of events on Israel being anti-Israel, and 75% displaying antisemitic discourse.
During that same period, CNES received $1.5 million from the Department of Education under Title VI. Title VI of HEA provides grants to American universities to establish, strengthen and operate language and international studies centers. Recipients of Title VI funding must demonstrate that activities reflect “diverse perspectives and a wide range of views.”
“What our report found was that Federal funds are being used by a top-tier public university to promote one-sided, antisemitic programming that masquerades as scholarship. That is absolutely appalling,” said Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, AMCHA co-founder and a University of California faculty member.
“UCLA is promoting a one-sided, anti-Israel and antisemitic bias to impressionable students. This completely distorts UCLA’s scholarly and educational mission and is a violation of the Higher Education Act,” said Leila Beckwith, AMCHA Initiative cofounder and a UCLA emeritus professor.
AMCHA Initiative investigated all public events pertaining to Israel, utilizing a systematic definition of antisemitic activity that included 10 categories of antisemitic behavior or discourse, with 8 of the categories culled from the U.S. State Department’s definition of antisemitism. The events were also examined for anti-Israel bias, defined as pervasive criticism of Israeli government policies, society and/or people. In addition, AMCHA noted the total number of public events sponsored by CNES that pertained to all countries of the Middle East. Biographical information was also prepared about every speaker and the three CNES Directors.
- CNES Israel-related events had an overwhelmingly anti-Israel bias:Of the 28 Israel-related events, 93% were anti-Israel;
- Most CNES Israel-related events contained antisemitic content:Of the 28 events, 75% contained antisemitic content;
- CNES had disproportionate focus on Israel:Of all the public events pertaining to significant Middle East political conflicts, 61% focused on the Arab-Israeli conflict, significantly more than any other conflict. In addition, events were held about 14 Middle East countries. Of those countries, 27% of the events were about Israel, four times more than any other country except Iran;
- CNES favors speakers who engaged in antisemitic activity prior to speaking at CNES: Of the 31 speakers at the CNES Israel-related events, 84% have engaged in antisemitic activity, including the demonization and deligitimization of Israel, denying Jews the right to self-determination, comparing Israelis to Nazis and condoning terrorism;
- Each CNES director had engaged in anti-Israel and antisemitic activity:All three CNES directors from 2010-2013 publicly opposed the UC Israel Abroad Program, despite touting the public abroad program as part of the center’s fulfillment of the Title VI funding requirement. In addition, each of the directors endorsed boycotts of Israel, and one is the founder of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel.
- CNES supported by Saudi government:Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests revealed CNES received a donation of $10,000 – $20,000 from the Saudi government-owned Arabian American Oil Company. The Saudi website also includes openly anti-Israel and antisemitic discourse.
The AMCHA Initiative is a non-profit organization dedicated to investigating, documenting, educating about, and combating antisemitism at institutions of higher education in America.
Contact: Genevieve Rozansky
Contact: Nicole Rosen
Groups to Congress: No Taxpayer Funds for Biased, Politicized Middle East Studies
Higher Education Act Reform Title VI Must Include Accountability to Stop Misuse of Funds, Strengthen National Security
WASHINGTON and SAN FRANCISCO, Cal. – Sept. 17, 2014 – With Congress considering the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) in several individual bills, leading organizations focused on education policy, the Jewish community, and civil rights announced today a coordinated effort to provide lawmakers with solutions to prevent misuse of federal funds under HEA Title VI.
Enacted by Congress as part of the 1965 HEA, Title VI provides federal funds to 129 international studies and foreign language centers at universities nationwide. Title VI has the mandate to strengthen U.S. security by training security specialists and educating the public. In the absence of congressional oversight, however, these programs have devolved into hotbeds of anti-American and anti-Israel activity, disseminating falsehoods both in universities and (through the congressionally mandated “public outreach” programs) to K-12 teachers and to the general public.
The undersigned organizations propose implementing two accountability measures: requiring (1) Title VI recipients to establish grievance procedures, and (2) the Department of Education to launch a complaint-resolution process.
Please see below for quotes from signatories.
This effort is anchored in research. We attach two reports that detail problems in existing Middle East Studies programs, with specific examples of anti-American and anti-Israel bias in Title VI-funded institution: (1) The AMCHA Initiative’s research into three years of public outreach activities of UCLA’s Center for Near East Studies and (2) the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law’s white paper explaining the need for Title VI to be reformed or eliminated. The full joint statement from all the involved organizations is also attached.
The following organizations are part of this coordinated effort:
- Accuracy in Academia
- AMCHA Initiative
- American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists
- Endowment for Middle East Truth
- The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law
- Middle East Forum
- Scholars for Peace in the Middle East
- Simon Wiesenthal Center
- Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations
- Zionist Organization of America
Quotes from signatories:
“Congress needs to finish the job that it began six years ago, during the last reauthorization of the Higher Education Act,” said Kenneth L. Marcus, president and general counsel for the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law. “At that time, Congress tried to reform Title VI by requiring recipients to demonstrate that they will provide “diverse perspectives’ in their federally funded public outreach programs. Unfortunately, this hasn’t worked out as planned, because Congress never created an accountability system to ensure that universities would comply properly with the new requirements. It is time now for Congress to finish the reform process if it is going to continue funding the program at all.”
“The Simon Wiesenthal Center will be calling upon leading Members of Congress to press the Department of Education to do its job, which means to demand those who receive Title VI funds guarantee that the funds will not be used to stifle the free speech of Israel advocates or to foment anti-Semitism on campus,” said Rabbi Meyer H. May, the Center’s executive director.
“Federal funds are being used by top-tier public universities to promote one-sided programming that masquerades as scholarship. That is absolutely appalling and completely goes against the purpose of Title VI funds — keeping the U.S. safer,” said Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, AMCHA Initiative co-founder and a University of California faculty member.
“For far too long, far too many of our Title VI taxpayer funded Middle Eastern Centers in universities across the country have offered one-sided political propaganda as a paltry substitute for a good, solid education. In 2008, many of us had worked to help pass amendments to the Higher Education Opportunities Act which have called for many reforms, including some accountability of what each university, who is the recipient of these federal grants, is doing to create a healthy learning environment which encourages a diversity of perspectives, and a healthy give and take in the classroom. The law has been changed to correct these problems, The amendments have been passed but there has been no virtually no accountability, no transparency, and very little, if any oversight. What is occurring inside the classroom often gives intellectual validation to the expression of anti-Semitism which is rearing its monstrous head onto college campuses across our nation,” said Sarah Stern, founder and president of Endowment for Middle East Truth.
“Title VI of the Higher Education Act directs federal dollars to support the intellectually corrupt field of Middle East studies, among the most politicized academic disciplines, filled with professors hostile to America, Israel, and the West. American taxpayers should not fund programs that aim to weaken resolve and thwart policy,” said Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum.
“Accuracy in Academia is not even asking universities to take a side in the war on terror but is neutrality too much to ask? Particularly given the amount of federal funding Middle East Studies department get—easily in the millions—a bit of balance on issues related to Israel seems more than called for. Balance is not achieved by attacking Israel from 20 different directions,” said Mal Kline, executive director of Accuracy in Academia.
“In its current state, federal education programs such as Title VI work to subsidize the assault on Israel and America, consequently making it difficult to support as it only benefits programs and professors who aim not to educate, but instead make ideological lamentations against the West with the support of federal dollars,” said Asaf Romirowsky, executive director of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East.