A consortium of American Jewish and civil rights groups are concerned that federal funds are underwriting "one-sided, antisemitic programming that masquerades as scholarship," at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), according to statements released Wednesday.
In a just-released three-year study (2010-2013) covering "Antisemitic Activity and Anti-Israel Bias At the Center for Near East Studies (CNES)" at UCLA, AMCHA Initiative researchers said they have found "CNES events disproportionately focused on Israel and the Israeli-Arab conflict, with 93% of events on Israel being anti-Israel, and 75% displaying antisemitic discourse."
AMCHA investigates, documents and fights antisemitism at universities and other institutions of higher education in the US.
CNES, according to AMCHA, is a major federally-designated National Resource Center, and as such, gets most of its funding funding from the Department of Education under Title VI of the Higher Education Act (HEA). The group said the school received $1,383,680 during the period being investigated.
The groups issued a joint statement calling on the U.S. Congress to deny funds to Middle East Studies programs accused of having anti-American and anti-Israel bias, as well as to enact reforms on the funding process.
Congress is currently reconsidering the reauthorization of the HEA, which provides federal funds to 129 international studies and foreign language programs.
According to the 10 organizations that signed the statement- 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, Zionist Organization of America – the programs "have devolved into hotbeds of anti-American and anti-Israel activity, disseminating falsehoods both in universities and to K-12 teachers and to the general public."
The organizations call on lawmakers to implement two accountability measures, including requiring Title VI recipients to establish grievance procedures and for the department of education to launch a complaint-resolution process.
"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. American taxpayers should not fund programs that aim to weaken resolve and thwart policy," said Middle East Forum President Daniel Pipes.
"CNES is promoting a one-sided, anti-Israel and antisemitic bias to impressionable students. This completely distorts UCLA's scholarly and educational mission and is a violation of the Higher Education Act," according to Leila Beckwith, AMCHA co-founder and a UCLA emeritus professor.
According to AMCHA:
- CNES Israel-related events had an overwhelmingly anti-Israel bias: Of the 28 Israel-related events, 93% were anti-Israel;
- Most CNES Israel-related events contained antisemitic content: Of the 28 events, 75% contained antisemitic content;
- CNES had disproportionate focus on Israel: Of all the public events pertaining to significant Middle East political conflicts, 61% focused on the Arab-Israeli conflict, significantly more than any other conflict. In addition, events were held about 14 Middle East countries. Of those countries, 27% of the events were about Israel, four times more than any other country except Iran;
- CNES favors speakers who engaged in antisemitic activity prior to speaking at CNES: Of the 31 speakers at the CNES Israel-related events, 84% have engaged in antisemitic activity, including the demonization and deligitimization of Israel, denying Jews the right to self-determination, comparing Israelis to Nazis and condoning terrorism;
- Each CNES director had engaged in anti-Israel and antisemitic activity: All three CNES directors from 2010-2013 publicly opposed the UC Israel Abroad Program, despite touting the public abroad program as part of the center's fulfillment of the Title VI funding requirement. In addition, each of the directors endorsed boycotts of Israel, and one is the founder of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel.
- CNES supported by Saudi government: Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests revealed CNES received a donation of $10,000 – $20,000 from the Saudi government-owned Arabian American Oil Company. The Saudi website also includes openly anti-Israel and antisemitic discourse.
Meanwhile, in June and mid-August, Jewish shop owners in Westwood, and other neighborhoods close to the campus found anti-Semitic flyers, with Nazi swastikas featuring the words "Wanted," and "Warning," under their doors.
In May, UCLA leaders and the University of California (UC) statewide system issued dual statements condemning a pledge organized by several anti-Israel student groups, including Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace, that had called on UCLA student council candidates to promise not to visit Israel on trips sponsored by Jewish organizations.