Eighty-eight pro-Israel groups sent a letter to the Department of Education and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos urging her to ensure that federal funding to universities isn't being used toward faculty members' political biases.
The letter, which was spearheaded by the AMCHA Initiative, states "more than half the directors of currently Title VI-funded Middle East Studies National Resource Centers (NRCs) have pledged support for an academic boycott of Israel or engaged in boycott-compliant behavior, including attempts to shut down their universities' study abroad programs in Israel, as have these centers' affiliated faculty."
The letter also notes that Middle East studies programs were five times more likely to sponsor pro-boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) speaking events if the programs featured at least one pro-BDS faculty member.
"An academic boycott calls for cutting off linkages with educational institutions in the boycotted country and unavoidably impairs the ability of students to travel to or study about the country or its language, and the ability of faculty to write, teach, and pursue scholarly research in this region of the world," the letter states. "In particular, the academic boycott of Israel urges faculty to work towards shutting down study abroad programs in Israel and refusing to write letters of recommendation for students who want to study there; sabotaging colleague's research collaborations with Israeli institutions and scholars; and blocking or canceling campus events and educational activities that 'promote' the normalization of Israel in the global academy.'"
Therefore, the letter argues, academic boycotts against Israel are anathema to Title VI requirements for federal money to provide access to international education resources.
"In light of your September ruling that it is unlawful for institutions of higher education to use Title VI funds for purposes not intended by the law, we ask that you take executive action now to ensure this ruling is followed," the letter states. "Your immediate action is critical until Congress can permanently fix this problem."
The Department of Education did not respond to the Journal's request for comment.