Among the signatories are anti-Israel professors Miriam Cooke and Shai Ginsburg. Cooke signed a 2014 call to boycott Israeli academic institutions, while Ginsburg conducted a fawning 2015 interview with Columbia University Professor and former PLO spokesman Rashid Khalidi, who, unsurprisingly, labeled Zionism a colonial enterprise.
This may explain why the Duke faculty letter makes the following gratuitous assertion: "The Federal investigation is the culmination of a decades-long campaign by anti-Palestinian organizations against academic programing and curricular offerings that are deemed insufficiently 'pro-Israel.'"
While it's true that public outcry over an anti-Israel conference sponsored by the Consortium in March prompted the DoE's investigation, the DoE made no mention of Israel in its August letter. It also omitted the fact that both UNC's chancellor and the Consortium apologized for the blatantly anti-Semitic performance of a Palestinian rapper at the conference, calling it "inexcusable," after several UNC departments withdrew their co-sponsorship.
Instead, the DoE charged the Consortium with failing "to carefully distinguish between activities lawfully funded under Title VI, and other activities, perhaps consistent with and protected by general principles of academic freedom, that are plainly unqualified for taxpayer support."
The DoE also contended that a different conference on "Love and Desire in Modern Iran" may have been "relevant in academia" but failed to support the required goal of teaching a foreign language "for the benefit of U.S. national security and economic stability."
The Duke faculty's letter is a diversionary tactic to undermine the DoE's justified scrutiny. It also betrays the signatories' obsession with Israel. It shifts attention from the government's effort to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being spent as intended, not to fulfill the latest academic fad.