The Corner

Middle East Studies Vs. Israel

As I’ve mentioned more than once in these parts, I’m a strong supporter of HR 3077. This bill, which would reform the system of “Title VI” federal subsidies to academic programs of Middle East studies, passed the House, and is now before the Senate. The higher-education lobby is pulling out all the stops to kill or gut HR 3077. But now another outrage has come along that shows how badly reform is needed. The head of a federally subsidized Title VI center for Middle East studies has declared himself a “supporter of the academic boycott against Israel.” It is utterly inappropriate for a center of Middle East studies subsidized by the federal government to lock out scholars from a Middle Eastern country. These are the folks who claim to be worried about academic freedom (which HR 3077 in fact protects). Yet they are the ones who resort to intimidation–and the silencing of contrary views. Now maybe the head of NYU’s Kevorkian center only means to express symbolic support for the boycott of Israeli academics. Maybe his center won’t actually lock Israeli scholars out. But how will we know? The Department of Education must take action to insure that there is no lockout of Israeli scholars at a taxpayer-funded Title VI center. More important, it is obvious that we need a mechanism–like the advisory board proposed by HR 3077–to help monitor the Title VI program for abuses like this. NYU’s Kevorkian center, by the way, was already notorious for the egregious bias of its public outreach programs. Take a look at it’s one-sided and extremist treatment of 9/11 But now this center may lend the imprimatur of the federal government to a boycott of Israeli academics. For more on the NYU outrage, see Martin Kramer’s Sandstorm. And consider writing your senators–and Senator Judd Gregg, chairman of the Senate Education committee–in support of HR 3077.

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