As Congress begins to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA), leading organizations focused on education policy, the Jewish community and civil rights cite an AMCHA Initiative study as primary evidence that the law is not working and needs to be rewritten. AMCHA Initiative will release its report today at the University of California Board of Regents meeting.
The 10 organizations, which include Accuracy in Academia, The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, today sent the AMCHA Initiative study to the leaders of the House Education and Workforce Committee and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
"AMCHA Initiative issued a report chronicling the public outreach activities of UCLA's Center for Near East Studies," wrote the groups in their joint statement to Education Committee members. The statement cites the results of AMCHA's report as significant evidence that "Middle East centers funded under Title VI have failed to comply with federal law, by using taxpayer dollars to present biased, anti-American, anti-Israel views in their outreach programs."
The Anti-Semitic Activity and Anti-Israel Bias at the Center for Near East Studies, University of California at Los Angeles 2010 – 2013 Report tracks anti-Semitic discourse and anti-Israel bias in public events sponsored by UCLA's Center for Near East Studies (CNES) over a three-year period, from 2010 – 2013. It concludes 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.
During that same period, CNES received $1.5 million from the Department of Education under Title VI. Title VI of HEA provides grants to American universities to establish, strengthen and operate language and international studies centers. Recipients of Title VI funding must demonstrate that activities reflect "diverse perspectives and a wide range of views."
"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," said Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, AMCHA co-founder and a University of California faculty member.
"CNES is promoting a one-sided, anti-Israel and anti-Semitic bias to impressionable students. This completely distorts UCLA's scholarly and educational mission and is a violation of the Higher Education Act," said Leila Beckwith, AMCHA Initiative cofounder and a UCLA emeritus professor.
AMCHA Initiative investigated all public events pertaining to Israel, utilizing a systematic definition of anti-Semitic activity that included 10 categories of anti-Semitic behavior or discourse, with 8 of the categories culled from the U.S. State Department's definition of anti-Semitism. The events were also examined for anti-Israel bias, defined as pervasive criticism of Israeli government policies, society and/or people. In addition, AMCHA noted the total number of public events sponsored by CNES that pertained to all countries of the Middle East. Biographical information was also prepared about every speaker and the three CNES Directors.
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 anti-Semitic content: Of the 28 events, 75% contained anti-Semitic 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 anti-Semitic activity prior to speaking at CNES: Of the 31 speakers at the CNES Israel-related events, 84% have engaged in anti-Semitic 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 anti-Semitic 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 anti-Semitic discourse.