In return for receiving taxpayer funds for foreign regional studies, universities must agree, according to Title VI of the Higher Education Act (HAE), to conduct “public outreach” programs aimed at K-12 teachers and the general public.
The problem is, as shown in research by Campus Watch and others, the Middle East studies centers betray a relentless bias against the United States and its allies, especially Israel, in their outreach programs, while showing a willful blindness to radical Islam. Three examples:
Gilbert Achcar of the University of London began a lecture at the University of California, Berkeley, in October 2011 by declaring, “Don’t expect me to take a pro-Israel view. I’m an Arab.” Achcar went on to declare that “the Shoah [Holocaust] ended in 1945, but the suffering of the Palestinians is never-ending.”
Ilan Pappé of the University of Exeter in the U.K. spoke at UCLA in February 2012 and charged Israel with being a “settler-colonial state” that engages in “criminality” by its very existence. He also offered this apologia for Palestinian terrorism: “Peace is not the only means of bringing an end to an oppression, in this case colonization, dispossession, and ethnic cleansing.”
Sherman Jackson of the University of Southern California said at Harvard in November 2013 that the U.S. Constitution “can be challenged, modified or even abandoned” to conform to Islamic law, or Shariah.
To remedy this torrent of bias, critics convinced the U.S. Congress to pass reforms in 2008 requiring that government grants be made on the condition that the outreach programs “reflect diverse perspective and a wide range of views and generate debate on world regions and international affairs.” In other words, don’t just offer the usual anti-American screeds but also something mainstream.
However, the 2008 legislation failed to provide an enforcement mechanism to hold universities accountable and so, in the end, it proved toothless.
To fix this problem, a group of ten organizations announced on September 17 an effort to cut off taxpayer support from biased, anti-American, and anti-Israel Middle East studies programs at American universities.
Those ten organizations are: the Middle East Forum, Accuracy in Academia, AMCHA Initiative, American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, Endowment for Middle East Truth, Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, Simon Wiesenthal Center, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, Zionist Organization of America.
This initiative calls on Congress, when reauthorizing HEA (which is now underway), to take two small steps to address the problem of bias:
First, require universities receiving Title VI funds to establish grievance procedures in case programs do not in fact “reflect diverse perspective and a wide range of views.”
Second, instruct the U.S. Department of Education to establish a formal complaint-resolution process such as that already in use to enforce Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
These two steps should help. But if they do not fix the problem, Congress should defund any Title VI Middle East studies centers that flout the law, mislead the public, and undermine the country’s security.
Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org) is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2014 All rights reserved by Daniel Pipes.
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