(Washington, D.C., December 19, 2019) Today, at the urging of Sarah Stern, Founder and President of EMET, as well as Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, Founder and Director of the AMCHA Initiative, eight members of Congress have released a letter addressed to Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, regarding the misuse of federal taxpayers’ dollars to universities who have received a federal grant under Title VI of the Higher Education Act.
Title VI of the Higher Education Act (HEA) was first passed in 1965, during the height of the Cold War to create a cadre of experts in regional or area studies and languages in order to promote the national security or commercial interests of the United States. The legislative intent of the National Resource Centers created by Title VI includes promoting “access to research and training overseas, including through linkages with overseas institutions.”
However, in the last round of federal grants given to 15 Middle East Resource Centers across the nation, more than half (8), have had Department Chairs who have endorsed a boycott of Israel.
These include Columbia University, George Washington University, Georgetown University, New York University, Indiana University, University of California, Berkeley, University of California, Los Angeles, University of Michigan, and University of Washington. (Numerous faculty members in all of the Title VI awarded centers have endorsed the academic boycott of Israel with the exception of the University of Arizona, but our discussion here is limited to Department Chairs).
According to the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel’s (PACBI) guidelines for the international academic boycott of Israel, “all Israeli academic institutions, unless proven otherwise, are subject to boycott” and “projects with all Israeli academic institutions should come to an end.” These academic boycotts of Israel blatantly defy the statutory purposes of Title VI programs.
We at EMET and at AMCHA both believe that it is impossible to get an objective educational foundation of any region under study, if one major country within that region is being boycotted, and that these attitudes prevent students from actually getting an unbiased, well-rounded education of the region.
The letter urges the Department of Education to increase diligent oversight over universities that are in clear violation of the statutory purposes of Title VI of the Higher Education Act (HEA, a federal grant). The letter was authored by Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI), and signed by Rep. Elise M. Stefanik (R-NY), Ron Wright (R-TX), Chuck Fleishmann (R-TN), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Mark Meadows (R-NC), Chris Stewart (R-UT), and Randy Weber (R-TX).
Says Sarah Stern, Founder and President of EMET, “I would like to thank Rep. Glenn Grothman and seven of his colleagues, for leading the charge against the one-sided, biased educations that are coming out of our taxpayer funded programs under Title VI of the Higher Education Act. For the last fourteen years, EMET has been steadily shedding light on the tremendous misuse of funds in these Title VI funded, Middle Eastern Studies Centers. We have seen that rather than giving students a solid education in the region, many of these Centers indoctrinate their students with one-sided political propaganda. An academic boycott stands in stark contrast of a well-rounded education about a region, and therefore does a tremendous dis-service to the student. We remain hopeful that Secretary DeVos will take action to help reestablish the integrity of these programs and institutions. It is crucial that the biased and blatantly anti-American, anti-Israel, and often anti-Semitic programs that are currently proliferating one-sided falsehoods on US college campuses be contested and held accountable for their damaging effect on the impressionable minds of college-age students in America.”