|(Washington, DC, January 2, 2017) Today, the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) commends the House Committee on Education and the Workforce for including new language into Title VI of the ‘‘Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity 6 through Education Reform Act,’’ also known the ‘‘PROSPER Act,’’ H.R 4508. The PROSPER Act, which passed the House Education & Workforce Committee December 13, 2017, is the new name for the Higher Education Act (HEA), last reauthorized in 2008. EMET has long been working on the issue of International and Foreign Language Studies grants in Title VI of HEA, in an effort to reform this law that helps support many professors and programs on university campuses that espouse anti-American, anti-Israel, and at times, anti-Semitic viewpoints, in violation of federal law.
The Higher Education Act was originally signed into law on November 8th, 1965, to strengthen the educational resources of American universities and colleges and to provide financial assistance to students in postsecondary and Higher Education. HEA was a later version of the National Defense Education Act (NDEA), signed into law in 1958 by President Eisenhower. The original intent of Title VI of the NDEA was to prepare our students to serve the national security needs of the United States by funding foreign language and area studies programs at universities, particularly with respect to combatting the Soviet threat at the time. The area studies programs are known as National Resource Centers (NRCs). In 1965, Title VI legislation was included into HEA, most recently reauthorized as the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) in 2008.
In October 2014, more than $3.3 million of federal grant money was awarded to Middle East NRCs under Title VI of HEA. More than $13.4 million will be awarded to 19 Middle East NRCs for the entire 2014-2018 cycle.
Unfortunately, the original legislative intent of Title VI of HEA had been turned on its head. Research shows that many Title VI-funded NRCs – currently at 100 institutions of higher education across the U.S. – are replete with an anti-American and anti-Israel biases. Specifically, many Middle East NRCs, including at such prestigious institutions as Columbia University, Georgetown University, Princeton University, and Yale University, among others, are replete with Title VI-supported faculty and programs that advance the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement; whitewash terrorism and radical Islam; and create a false narrative of U.S. foreign policy towards the Middle East.
For example, Hatem Bazian, a champion of BDS and anti-Israel causes, is a senior lecturer at Title VI-funded Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Bazian co-founded the oftentimes anti-Semitic and pro-BDS student organization, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), and is the chairman of the radical organization, American Muslims for Palestine (AMP). AMP was the topic of a Congressional hearing on BDS in April, 2016, which exposed the organization as one of the main funders of the BDS movement, as well as having ties to the terrorist organization Hamas. AMP called the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration as a “sad date” in history, with Bazian stating, “Everything thing that has befallen Palestine – It’s partition, the settlements, random arrests and detentions, the Apartheid Wall, the siege on Gaza, and the millions of Palestinians living in exile and Diaspora – was made possible because of the Balfour Declaration.”
Also, problematic, under Title VI, NRCs are required to extend their activities by creating programs of “public outreach,” including workshops where K-12 teachers are trained. Many of the workshops, and their lesson plans on the Middle East, are heavily influenced by Saudi money, reports show. Some of the training materials include essays of Islamist radicals who advocate for terrorism; textbooks painting Israel and the West as colonial powers; and lesson plans that promote Islam and criticize the Jewish State. As a result, Title VI-funded Middle East studies biases are trickling down to our most vulnerable youth.
In 2008, EMET was instrumental in amending Title VI of HEA to require the need for “diverse perspectives and a wide range of views,” within the U.S. taxpayer-funded Title VI programs. Despite EMET’s exhaustive efforts in 2008, the U.S. Department of Education, which provides these grants to the universities, as well as the recipients of the grants themselves, have ignored their statutory requirements to provide “diverse perspectives.” Since 2008, EMET has been the only organization on Capitol Hill regularly raising awareness about the abuses of, and calling for legislative changes to, Title VI, through one-on-one meetings with Congressional staffers and Members of Congress.
Thanks to EMET’s hard work educating congressional staff and Members of Congress on the House Education and Workforce Committee for several years on Title VI, these changes were finally made. EMET was also instrumental in helping to draft and include amendments within the new PROSPER Act to strengthen the “diverse perspectives” requirement, and to create accountability for universities and Title VI-funded programs – including the NRCs – that fail to comply with the diverse perspectives requirement, among other amendments. Specifically, the new bill states that the “Secretary shall use [the diverse perspectives] requirement…as part of the application evaluation, review, and approval process when determining grant recipients for initial funding and continuation of awards.” And the bill further mandates that the Secretary annually “submit to the authorizing committees a report that identifies the efforts taken to ensure recipients’ compliance with the requirements under this title relating to the ‘diverse perspectives and a wide range of views’ requirement…”
Perhaps most notably, EMET’s work and diligence on Title VI biases prompted Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC) to include an amendment to HEA which states: “Sec. 629 Compliance with Diverse Perspectives and a Wide Range of Views – When complying with the requirement of this title to offer a diverse perspective and a wide range of views, a recipient of a grant under this title shall not promote any biased views that are discriminatory toward any group, religion, or population of people.”
Sarah Stern, founder and president of EMET said, “I am thrilled by the new language included within Title VI of the PROSPER Act. Congressman Wilson’s amendment is nothing short of historic; students previously discriminated under Title VI of HEA programming for their religious and political beliefs – including politically divergent views, Jewish student groups, and pro-Israel groups – will now be guaranteed protections under Title VI. Furthermore, EMET has been calling for reforms to Title VI of HEA for years – and we are pleased that many of our recommendations have been included in the PROSPER Act, including an annual report by the Secretary of Education on ‘Compliance with Diverse Perspectives and a Wide Range of Views Requirement.’”
Ms. Stern added, “I applaud the entire House Education and Workforce Committee for taking the matter of Title VI of HEA seriously, and for taking the long overdue step to include language that will work to remedy the terrible anti-American and anti-Israel biases within the program. EMET was also pleased to collaborate with other civil rights and pro-Israel organizations on the issue, and looks forward to working with the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) to help ensure the legislation passes and is subsequently signed into law.”
About The Endowment for Middle East Truth
Founded in 2005, EMET’s mission is to educate policymakers in Washington and the general public about the importance of Israel to the United States in their common struggle against radical Islam. For more information, please visit, http://www.emetonline.org. Follow EMET on Twitter and Facebook.
Media Contact: Jennifer Dekel
Endowment for Middle East Truth