Federal taxpayer funds continue to flow to a slew of U.S. universities that are spending the cash on programs that promote anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, and anti-American viewpoints, according to a large group of Jewish and civil rights organizations that are now pushing Congress to rectify what they call a systemic problem.
Taxpayer funds have been allocated to universities under Title VI of the Higher Education Act (HEA) since 1965. However, Congress and the Education Department have exerted little oversight, leading these funds to be spent on biased educational programs that promote radical views about Israel and even America, according to the groups.
Funding for anti-Israel programs at U.S. universities has fostered a culture of fear among the Jewish state’s supporters on campus and fueled a growing number of anti-Semitic incidents at many schools, the groups warned.
As Congress moves to reauthorize the HEA in the coming weeks, these ten Jewish and civil rights organizations will launch a full court press to ensure that safeguards are placed on the federal funds to prevent them from being spent on extremist programs.
"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," the groups warned in a joint statement on Wednesday that accompanied the release of two new reports documenting the ways in which major American universities spend taxpayer funds to promote an anti-Israel ideology.
Congress must either provide rigorous oversight of the funds or completely cut them off, say the groups, which include the AMCHA Initiative, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, Simon Wiesenthal Center, and the Zionist Organization of America, among others.
"Title VI of the Higher Education Act directs federal dollars to support the intellectually corrupt field of Middle East studies, among the most politicized academic disciplines, filled with professors hostile to America, Israel, and the West," Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum, said in a statement. "American taxpayers should not fund programs that aim to weaken resolve and thwart policy."
The University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) has been among the top abusers of federal funds, according to AMCHA, which published an in-depth study on the university’s federally funded anti-Israel programs.
AMCHA found that between 2010 and 2013, 93 percent of the events sponsored by UCLA’s Center for Near East Studies (CNES) were anti-Israel in nature, with 75 percent "displaying anti-Semitic discourse," according to the study.
AMCHA noted several instances of CNES speakers delegitimizing Israel and endorsing terrorism at various events."I think the unpleasant and unavoidable comparison is with South Africa during the apartheid period, and I must say that, having visited South Africa, that they were much better off than the Palestinians living in refugee camps," said a speaker at one event, according to the report.
Other speakers were found to have met with the terror group Hezbollah and openly endorsed the group, to have promoted boycotts against the Jewish state, and raised questions about the number of those killed in the Holocaust, according to the report.
Over the course of that time, CNES was awarded $1.5 million from the Education Department under Title VI.
"What our report found was that federal funds are being used by a top-tier public university to promote one-sided, anti-Semitic programming that masquerades as scholarship. That is absolutely appalling," Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, AMCHA cofounder, said in a statement.
"CNES is promoting a one-sided, anti-Israel and anti-Semitic bias to impressionable students," added Leila Beckwith, an AMCHA cofounder and UCLA professor emeritus. "This completely distorts UCLA’s scholarly and educational mission and is a violation of the Higher Education Act."
In a separate report, the Louis D. Brandeis Center determined that the Education Department is unable to provide proper oversight over the federal funds, which has contributed to them being spent on anti-Israel programs.
"These Title VI programs have become a national embarrassment," the report concluded. "Critics had long warned that they suffered uneven quality, misplaced priorities, weak oversight, and low transparency. Many Title VI recipients were ideologically politicized institutions notorious for one-sided approaches hostile to the United States, the West, and Israel."
"Some programs were reportedly so hostile towards Israel that they would not even remotely entertain views that contradicted their unrelentingly anti-Israel perspective," the report states.
As far back as 2006, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights determined there is proof that anti-Semitic confrontations "are fueled by ideologically biased campus programs that receive operating funds from the federal government under Title VI of the Higher Education Act," according to the report.
Kenneth Marcus, the Brandeis Center’s president, said it is time for Congress to put in place the proper oversight mechanisms.
"Congress needs to finish the job that it began six years ago, during the last reauthorization of the Higher Education Act," Marcus said in a statement. "It is time now for Congress to finish the reform process if it is going to continue funding the program at all."