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September 18, 2016 8:06 am

Watchdog: US Government ‘Violating Law’ by Funding Pro-BDS Campus Centers With Tax Dollars (INTERVIEW)

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The US Capitol. Photo: US Chamber of Commerce.

The US Capitol. Photo: US Chamber of Commerce.

The US government is “violating the law” by using tax dollars to fund antisemitic and anti-Israel activity on college campuses, a member of a Washington, DC-based think tank told The Algemeiner on Friday.

According to Jennifer Dekel, director of research and communications at the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), federal funding is unlawfully being awarded to college and university Middle East National Resource Centers (NRC) that support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. 

Under funding stipulations set by Title VI of the Higher Education Opportunity Act, the Middle East NRC’s “are required by the law to give assurances that they will maintain linkages with overseas institutions of higher education…that many contribute to the teaching and research of the Center,” she said. 

Instead, many directors and faculty members associated with Middle East NRC’s “pledge support for an academic boycott of Israel,” she told The Algemeiner, thereby “removing any assurance that they will maintain ties with any Israeli institutions of higher education.”

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In an attempt to “end biases in the program,” Dekel said, Congress “changed the law in 2008 to state that federal grants can only be awarded to academic programs that ‘reflect diverse perspectives and a wide range of views and generate debate on world regions and international affairs.’”

This amendment, she said, has been woefully ignored.

“Hosting programs that support BDS is not ‘reflecting diverse perspectives,’ but essentially silencing other viewpoints,” Dekel told The Algemeiner.

According to a 2015 report by campus watchdog group the AMCHA Initiative, “More than 42 percent of all NRC directors have expressed public support for BDS, with more than a quarter…supporting a boycott of Israeli universities and scholars.”

The report also found that Middle East NRC directors who support BDS “were more than twice as likely to host Title VI-funded public outreach events with BDS-supporting speakers.”

In October 2014, according to the US Department of Education, more than $3.3 million in federal grants was awarded to 16 Middle East NRC’s under Title VI. Between 2014 and 2018, it is expected that more than $13.4 million will be given to 19 Middle East NRC’s.

“Taxpayers should be concerned, because their money is helping to support anti-Israel, and at times, antisemitic rhetoric and activity on campuses, as well as anti-American rhetoric at many of these universities,” Dekel told The Algemeiner.

Even more worrisome is that “these biases are trickling down to our most vulnerable youth, as many of these Title VI Middle East NRC’s also conduct training workshops for teachers on the K-12 level,” she said.

Over the next few years, Dekel said, “We will unfortunately continue to see an upward trend of directors and speakers of Middle East NRC’s supporting BDS, unless Congress makes the appropriate changes to the law and the Department of Education and universities take action against these centers.”

“Pro-Israel and Jewish students are feeling threatened and bullied by the BDS movement. Universities are supposed to be a place for learning, growth and self-development,” Dekel told The Algemeiner. “Instead, we are seeing that universities with BDS activity are becoming places where Jewish and pro-Israel students no longer feel comfortable.”

Dekel is one of the latest voices to take issue with how the US government allocates taxpayer money towards campus organizations that engage in antisemitic and anti-Israel behavior. 

As reported by The Algemeiner on Thursday, New York State Senator Jack Martins (R-7th District) called on the City University of New York (CUNY) to stop “subsidizing [anti-Israel student groups] with our tax dollars.”

His comment was made in reference to the recently released results of a CUNY investigation into allegations of pervasive Jew-hatred on its campuses, which concluded that the antisemitic and anti-Israel rhetoric of student groups are protected under free-speech rights.

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  • Joshua Laskin

    So, according to that 2015 AMCHA report, 58% of NRC directors haven’t expressed public support for BDS; and almost 3/4 of NRC directors don’t support a boycott of Israeli universities and scholars. Has Dekel considered, that starting an NRC witch-hunt, will likely make those numbers worse?

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