PHILADELPHIA – February 27, 2020 - Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) sent a letter to Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos concerning the University of Arizona's Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES), raising concerns that it is supporting "biased, anti-American, pro-BDS" faculty and research and accepting considerable sums of money from foreign sources, specifically Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Gosar's letter asks that the University of Arizona's Title VI-funded programs be scrutinized for possible violations of that section of the Higher Education Act.
"It is incumbent upon the Department of Education to ensure that federal laws and regulations are adhered to and that taxpayer dollars are not misused to endanger America's national security, the security of our allies, or to encourage biased, politicized scholarship," said Gosar in his letter. Specifically, he cited over $7 million in funding from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which creates a potential conflict of interest with funds intended for U.S. national security programs, and multiple professors who openly support the BDS movement, publish articles with antisemitic content, and take highly politicized views of Israel and Jews.
Rep. Gosar notes that Title VI grants are intended to fund foreign language and international studies programs with the goal of improving America's national security. But higher education watchdogs have long raised concerns about the actual practices of Title VI-funded Middle East studies centers. Widespread problems include promoting blatant antisemitism, whitewashing Islamism, and abdicating the program's original mission.
Other members of Congress have also raised this issue. Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-VA) voiced similar concerns about Georgetown University's Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, and Rep. George Holding (R-NC) raised concerns regarding the Duke University/University of North Carolina (UNC) Consortium for Middle East Studies (CMES).
"Title VI funds should not be used for heavily politicized scholarship," notes Winfield Myers, director of Campus Watch. "Nor should they be intermingled with funds from nations that, at best, have very different core values concerning human rights and democracy. Rep. Gosar's letter is an important step in trying to bring Title VI funds in line with their original purpose. The Department of Education should conduct an investigation and insist on transparency in how these funds are used."
See Rep. Gosar's letter by clicking here.
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