AMCHA Initiative Bulletin – January 26, 2018

As the Senate begins to reauthorize the Higher Education Opportunities Act (HEOA), AMCHA Initiative and more than a dozen leading organizations focused on education policy, the Jewish community and civil rights urged Senators to prevent misuse of federal funds under HEOA Title VI.  

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AMCHA Joins Brandeis Center, AJC, B’nai B’rith International and Others in Letter to Senate 

AMCHA’s Research Exposing Rampant Abuse of
Federally-Funded Middle East Centers is
Central to Advocacy Efforts

      

Designated National Resource Centers Receiving Funding
Under Title VI of the Higher Education Opportunity Act
2014 – 2018  

As the Senate begins to reauthorize the Higher Education Opportunities Act (HEOA), AMCHA Initiative joined more than a dozen organizations in urging Senators to prevent misuse of federal funds under HEOA Title VI in a letter sent yesterday. The letter was organized by the Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law and many of the signatories have focused on this critical issue for years.
 
Title VI was established to strengthen U.S. security by training students as national security specialists and to educate the public on international affairs. The goals of the program, which funds 100 National Resource Centers (NRC), including 16 Middle East Studies departments, are to equip students with a full and unbiased understanding of regions and countries vital to U.S. security. However, in the absence of federal oversight, 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.
 
AMCHA’s research exposing the rampant abuse occurring in Middle East studies centers on U.S. college and university campuses is critical to addressing the problem.  In 2014, AMCHA released a three-year study that tracked anti-Semitic discourse and anti-Israel bias in public events sponsored by UCLA’s Center for Near East Studies (CNES). It found that CNES events disproportionately focused on Israel and the Israeli-Arab conflict, with 93% of events on Israel being anti-Israel, and 75% displaying anti-Semitic discourse. 

In 2016, AMCHA issued a report chronicling the “Anti-Israel Bias of Directors and Speakers at Title VI-Funded Middle East Studies Programs from 2014-2015,” which found that the 42% of NRC directors who endorsed the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement were more than twice as likely to host federally-funded events with pro-BDS speakers.  And, two months ago, AMCHA released new research demonstrating the abuse is escalating. Middle East Studies departments with one or more pro-BDS faculty were five times more likely to sponsor events with BDS-supporting speakers, and the more faculty boycotters, the greater the likelihood of BDS-supporting speaker-events.  In addition, academic units with BDS-supporting chairs or directors were 3.5 times more likely to sponsor events with BDS-supporting speakers than units headed by non-faculty boycotters.
 
As these studies show, if left unchecked, too many professors will continue to illegally use taxpayer dollars to push their own personal, political crusades to impressionable students.  This must stop.  It violates the law and completely distorts the scholarly and educational mission of the university.
 
In the letter, the coalition recommended three simple steps to address this growing problem: 1) Approve reforms recently included by the House Education and the Workforce Committee to require annual reporting by the U.S. Department of Education on its administration of the program; 2) define key terms in the statute to ameliorate continuing confusion and 3) require the Department of Education to “score” the pertinent portion of universities’ Title VI applications, giving credit to those schools that comply with federal requirements.
 
You may see the full letter here and AMCHA’s press release on this issue here.

 






Sampling of Antisemitic Activity 
January 2018

 For all activity, please see AMCHA’s Antisemitism Tracker
 

A vandalized mezuzah at UCLA. Source Credit: Facebook
January 22, 2018 – UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON – 
An article in the student-run school newspaper demonized and delegitimized Israel, stating, “ethnic cleansing is a constant threat…Ahed’s show-trial and possible imprisonment reflects the larger system of apartheid within the Israeli legal system…For anyone living under settler-colonialism, a system that is inherently violent, the only logical reaction is to defend themselves by any means necessary. Ahed’s hands should not be tied for slapping an occupying soldier whose very presence is a threat to her existence. The violence of the colonized Palestinians will never be equal to the violence of the colonizing Israelis who have been imperializing and ethnically cleansing Palestine since 1948… For Palestinians living under a settler-colonial regime, just existing is an act of resistance, and slapping an occupying soldier is another step towards liberation.” 
(CATEGORIZATION – ANTISEMITIC EXPRESSION: DEMONIZATION; DELEGITIMIZATION)

 

A crossed-out Jewish star on the whiteboard of a dorm room door at Pennsylvania State University. Source Credit: Submitted to AMCHA
January 21, 2018 – PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIVERSITY – 
A student found a Jewish star crossed out drawn on a dorm room door’s whiteboard. Image submitted to AMCHA Initiative. 
(CATEGORIZATION – TARGETING JEWISH STUDENTS AND STAFF: DESTRUCTION OF JEWISH PROPERTY; HISTORICAL)

January 19, 2018 – UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN, FLINT – 
Fliers promoting and recruiting for the white nationalist group “Patriot Front” were posted around campus. The fliers referred viewers to “bloodandsoil.org.” The phrase “Blood and Soil” was a key slogan of Nazi ideology and the Nazis’ genocidal campaign against Jews. 
(CATEGORIZATION – TARGETING JEWISH STUDENTS AND STAFF: GENOCIDAL EXPRESSION; HISTORICAL)

January 18, 2018 – COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY/ BARNARD COLLEGE – 
An op-ed published in the school paper demonized Israel and Zionism stating, “Special efforts are being made to show that Zionism cannot possibly be racist by AIPAC-sponsored trips for students at historically black colleges. It’s like the proverbial free lunch—there’s no such thing…Even the before-and-after survey from Hillel—’Do you consider Israel a militarized society? Do you consider Israel a diverse society?’ etc.—intimated the trip’s apparent goal of disproving the growing belief among college students that Israel is a racist, apartheid state…Besides eating Palestinian food in Hillel, enjoying land taken from Palestinians is the would-be free lunch travelers must recognize—by simply being there, you stand on land that was and continues to be cleansed of its indigenous population.”
(CATEGORIZATION – ANTISEMITIC EXPRESSION: DEMONIZATION; DELEGITIMIZATION)

January 15, 2018 – COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY/ BARNARD COLLEGE – 
SJP re-circulated a petition for the campus community to boycott Book Culture, a local bookstore used by professors and students, due to Book Culture’s denouncation of the BDS movement and refusal to include a children’s book endorsing Intifada during a children’s event. The boycott call included “both a refusal to patronize the store, and, if possible, a refusal to send course materials, such as textbooks, to Book Culture for student pickup” and claimed that “the first and second intifadas [were] periods of massive grassroots mobilization against Israeli apartheid, occupation, and ethnic cleansing.” As of the re-circulation date, nearly 150 students and 18 professors from Columbia University and Barnard College had endorsed the boycott call. 
(CATEGORIZATION – ANTISEMITIC EXPRESSION: DEMONIZATION; DELEGITIMIZATION)

January 16, 2018 – UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN – 
Arab and Muslim American Studies at the University of Michigan, Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies and Digital Islamic Studies Curriculum held the event, “Inter/Nationalism: Decolonizing Native America and Palestine.” According to the description of the event, “Salaita offers a fascinating inside account of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement—which, among other things, aims to end Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land.” During the event, Salaita delegitimized Israel, stating, “We ought to look at Israel-Palestine not as a conflict, not as an impasse, not as an argument, but we should look at it as settler colonization…a regime of continued settler colonization.” He further argued the issues in Israel and Palestine today are similar to the occupation of Native American land in the United States and claimed that “to work against Zionism is to work against injustice everywhere…To me, Zionism is a belief, whether it’s through a liberal or a conservative paradigm, that a Jewish majority state ought to exist at the expense of those who can lay claim to that land historically. Anti-Zionism is something that ought to transcend Palestine.” During the Q & A, a Jewish student expressed that comments made in Salaita’s book were antisemitic against Jews, when Salaita describes American Jews with the phrase “McMansions and shopping malls.” Salaita responded by defending the phrase, saying, “I will stand by the line insofar as the fact that I am pointing to the distinct class dynamic that is in play vis-a-vis Palestinians. This is a description of college students that gets proffered all the time.”
(CATEGORIZATION – ANTISEMITIC EXPRESSION: HISTORICAL; DENYING JEWISH SELF-DETERMINATION; DELEGITIMIZATION; BDS ACTIVITY (BDS EVENT))

January 15, 2018 – UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY – 
A Chabad Rabbi witnessed the destruction of the Jewish Center’s sign. According to the Rabbi, “There were about five or six individuals, including the one that damaged the sign. He said he heard male voices yelling things such as, ‘Get the Jews, kill the Jews.’ One of them charged in the lawn, charged at the Jewish Student Center sign, yelling ‘Heil Hitler,’ and tackled the sign to the ground.” Security cameras recorded the incident. 
(CATEGORIZATION – TARGETING JEWISH STUDENTS AND STAFF: DESTRUCTION OF JEWISH PROPERTY; GENOCIDAL EXPRESSION; HARASSMENT)

January 15, 2018 – SAINT OLAF COLLEGE – 
The keynote speaker at a campus Martin Luther King Day event, Andrew William, expressed support for BDS during his talk, “Epistemologies of Healing: Race, Reconciliation, and Radical Hope in Higher Education.” The event was organized by the Center for Multicultural and International Engagement (CMIE). 
(CATEGORIZATION – BDS ACTIVITY: BDS EVENT)

January 9, 2018 – UCLA – 
The mezuzah on the office doorpost of the Jewish student body president was torn down in Kerckhoff Hall. 
(CATEGORIZATION – TARGETING JEWISH STUDENTS AND STAFF: DESTRUCTION OF JEWISH PROPERTY)

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