According to the congress members involved, “academic boycotts of Israel defy the statutory purposes of Title VI programs” and taxpayer-funded colleges “should not be permitted to … boycott of any country under their purview.”
Eight Republican members of Congress on Thursday called on U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to ensure that taxpayer funds do not go towards Middle East Studies’ centers at colleges and universities that support boycotting Israel.
In a letter to DeVos, the congressional members expressed alarm over Middle East Studies National Resource Centers (NRCs) allegedly misusing funds under Title VI of the Higher Education Act of 1965 to support the anti-Israel BDS movement. Taxpayer-funded BDS activity has included prohibiting conferences and other events involving Israelis or Israeli institutions, blocking lectures by Israeli state officials or Israeli academics and boycotting study-abroad programs in Israel, including refusing to write recommendations for students looking to partake in them.
The letter acknowledges that the U.S. Department of Education determined that the Duke-University of North Carolina Consortium for Middle East Studies misused federal funding in hosting an anti-Semitic and anti-Israel conference in March.
The members of Congress stated that “academic boycotts of Israel defy the statutory purposes of Title VI programs. Directors, faculty and staff of Title VI-funded NRCs should not be permitted to implement an academic boycott of any country under their purview.”
“It is the Department’s responsibility to ensure that taxpayer-funded NRCs are implementing programs in good faith with the statutory purposes and requirements of Title VI,” they continued. “We encourage the Department to continue robust oversight efforts of NRCs’ compliance with Title VI.”
The letter was signed by Reps. Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.), Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.), Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), Chris Stewart (R-Utah), Randy Weber (R-Texas) and Ron Wright (R-Texas).
Grothman recently authored an amendment to address this issue, but it failed in committee along party lines.
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