AJC: Israel boycotters should forfeit federal funds

department of education logoNEW YORK (Press Release)– The American Jewish Committee (AJC )is urging the U.S. Department of Education to take steps to ensure that education institutions receiving Title VI government funding do not boycott Israeli academic institutions. The AJC call follows a Middle East Studies Association resolution endorsing the “right” of scholarly associations to engage in such boycotts.

The MESA declaration “raises clear and troubling questions for the Department of Education’s administration of Title VI funding,” AJC Executive Director David Harris wrote to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Harris stressed that MESA’s stance regarding academic boycotts of Israeli institutions undermines the purpose of Title VI funding “to promote access to research and training overseas, including through linkages with overseas institutions.”

“Nothing could be more inimical to that purpose than a determination by a university areas studies institute to exclude overseas institutions from scholarly and cultural interchanges for no reason other than the nationality of those institutions,” Harris wrote.

AJC also pointed out that the MESA directive contradicts the Title VI requirement that grant applicants provide “an explanation of how the activities funded by the grant will reflect diverse perspectives.”

Prior to the recent MESA conference, where the Israel boycott resolution was adopted, AJC had raised concerns with Education Department officials about ways to ensure that the Title VI diverse perspectives mandate is enforced when evaluating whether an American educational institution should receive funds under the program. At the time it appeared that provision of diverse perspectives is not among the weighted criteria utilized in determining whether a grant is approved.

In light of MESA’s action, the need for a review of education department policy on fully implementing Tittle VI “is more crucial and pressing than ever,” Harris wrote.

AJC urged Secretary Duncan “to heighten your scrutiny of applicants for Title VI funding “to assure that funded institutions are not involved in practices that are antithetical to the purposes of the program.”

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Preceding provided by the American Jewish Committee

 

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