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February 28, 2020 10:21 am

Congressman Sends Letter to DeVos About Mideast Studies at University of Arizona

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University of Arizona. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

JNS.org – Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) has called for the US Department of Education to investigate whether the Center for Middle East Studies (CMES) at the University of Arizona has misused federal dollars.

In a Feb. 24 letter to US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Gosar wrote that CMES has used federal funding under Title VI of the Higher Education Act of 1965 to “support biased, anti-American, pro-BDS faculty and research.”

As an example, the letter cites CMES associate professor Maha Nassar, who “wrote a defense of the antisemitic ‘Students for Justice in Palestine’ in the antisemitic publication Mondoweiss,” in which she wrote that “conflating anti-Zionism with antisemitism is a well-worn tactic of pro-Israel advocacy groups.”

Another example of pro-BDS faculty that the letter cites is history professor Linda Darling, “who signed a 2014 petition calling on Middle East scholars and librarians to boycott Israeli academic institutions.”

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“While it is the university’s right under the First Amendment to engage in any kind of scholarship, it is not free to engage in antisemitic activities or discrimination, especially using federal grants in ways that do not comply with the stated intent of the grant program,” wrote Gosar. “Specifically, programs that are in violation of federal laws and undermine our country’s interests at home and abroad should not be offered at a publicly funded university.

“Federal funds, earmarked for specific purposes, should not be used to support such ideologically driven programs that promote racism, hatred and genocide,” he added. “It is incumbent upon the Department of Education to ensure that federal laws and regulations are adhered to and that taxpayer dollars are not misused to endanger America’s national security, the security of our allies, or to encourage biased, politicized scholarship.”

The letter mentioned that, according to a September 2019 report by the Clarion Project, CMES has received more than $7 million from Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and that the university works with the Qatar Foundation.

“Using federal money to promote blatantly anti-Jewish programs that promote violence and hatred of an ethnic and religious group is illegal under Title VI, and our great university should not jeopardize its research, social standing and reputation any longer by promoting those who assert genocidal and racist agendas,” wrote Gosar.

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