AMCHA’S Responses to Antisemitic Activity – Federal Legislature
1. 10 Organizations tell Congress the Higher Education Act Reform Title VI must include accountability to stop misuse of funds by Middle East Studies Centers, strengthen national security
- INCIDENT: 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.
- 9/17/14 – AMCHA & COALITION RESPONSE: AMCHA Initiative tracked antisemitic discourse and anti-Israel bias in the public events sponsored by UCLA’s Gustav E. von Grunebaum Center for Near East Studies (CNES), 2010 – 2013. The Antisemitic Activity and Anti-Israel Bias at the Center for Near East Studies, University of California at Los Angeles 2010 – 2013 Report revealed that 93 percent of CNES Israel-related events had an overwhelmingly anti-Israel bias. Seventy-five percent contained anti-Semitic content and 84 percent of featured speakers have engaged in anti-Semitic activity, including the demonization and delegitimization of Israel, denying Jews the right to self-determination, comparing Israelis to Nazis and condoning terrorism. Results of the report were cited, along with a Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law’s white paper, in a joint statement by 10 organizations to the leaders of the House Education and Workforce Committee as primary evidence that Middle East centers funded under Title VI of the Higher Education Act have failed to comply with federal law. The organizations included 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, and the Zionist Organization of America. The organizations proposed 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.
- 10/6/14 – LEGISLATIVE RESPONSE: In response to a statement from AMCHA Initiative and several other educational and Jewish organizations expressing concern that some Middle East studies programs are misusing Higher Education Act Title VI funding to promote anti-Israel bias, the Ranking Member on the House Appropriations Committee, Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-Westchester/Rockland), sent a letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan urging him to immediately adopt standards to prevent imbalanced higher education programs with anti-Israel attitudes from receiving federal funds. Congressman Steve Israel and Senators Barbara Mikulski and Benjamin Cardin also sent letters of concern to the Secretary of Education.
As a direct result of AMCHA’s reports and AMCHA-led coalition efforts, the Department of Education begun requiring that federally-funded Middle East studies programs report on how their activities advance diverse perspectives and a wide range of views.