Groups to Congress: No Taxpayer Funds for Biased, Politicized Middle East Studies

September 17, 2014


Higher Education Act Reform Title VI Must Include Accountability to Stop Misuse of Funds, Strengthen National Security

WASHINGTON and SAN FRANCISCO, CA. – With Congress considering the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) in several individual bills, leading organizations focused on education policy, the Jewish community, and civil rights announced today a coordinated effort to provide lawmakers with solutions to prevent misuse of federal funds under HEA Title VI.

Enacted by Congress as part of the 1965 HEA, Title VI provides federal funds to 129 international studies and foreign language centers at universities nationwide. Title VI has the mandate to strengthen U.S. security by training security specialists and educating the public. In the absence of congressional oversight, however, these programs have devolved into hotbeds of anti-American and anti-Israel activity, disseminating falsehoods both in universities and (through the congressionally mandated “public outreach” programs) to K-12 teachers and to the general public.

The undersigned organizations propose implementing two accountability measures: requiring (1) Title VI recipients to establish grievance procedures, and (2) the Department of Education to launch a complaint-resolution process.
“Congress needs to finish the job that it began six years ago, during the last reauthorization of the Higher Education Act,” said Kenneth L. Marcus, president and general counsel for the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law. “At that time, Congress tried to reform Title VI by requiring recipients to demonstrate that they will provide “diverse perspectives' in their federally funded public outreach programs. Unfortunately, this hasn’t worked out as planned, because Congress never created an accountability system to ensure that universities would comply properly with the new requirements. It is time now for Congress to finish the reform process if it is going to continue funding the program at all."

“The Simon Wiesenthal Center will be calling upon leading Members of Congress to press the Department of Education to do its job, which means to demand those who receive Title VI funds guarantee that the funds will not be used to stifle the free speech of Israel advocates or to foment anti-Semitism on campus,” said Rabbi Meyer H. May, the Center's Executive Director.

This effort is anchored in research. We attach two reports that detail problems in existing Middle East Studies programs, with specific examples of anti-American and anti-Israel bias in Title VI-funded institution: (1) The AMCHA Initiative’s research into three years of public outreach activities of UCLA’s Center for Near East Studies and (2) the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law’s white paper explaining the need for Title VI to be reformed or eliminated. The two reports and the full joint statement from all the involved organizations are available here:

Antisemitic Activity and Anti-Israel Bias At the Center for Near East Studies, University of California at Los Angeles 

“The Morass of Middle East Studies: Title VI of the Higher Education Act and Federally Funded Area Studies”


The following organizations are part of this coordinated effort:

· Accuracy in Academia
· AMCHA Initiative
· American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists
· Endowment for Middle East Truth
· The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law
· Middle East Forum
· Scholars for Peace in the Middle East
· Simon Wiesenthal Center
· Union of Orthodox Jewish Organizations
· Zionist Organization of America


For more information, please contact the Center's Public Relations Department, 310-553-9036, join the Center on Facebook, www.facebook.com/simonwiesenthalcenter, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent direct to your Twitter feed.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).