- WASHINGTON -- Major Jewish
organizations are lobbying the Senate to approve a bill that would authorize
federal monitoring of government-funded Middle East studies programs throughout
- The bill, which was overwhelmingly approved by the House
of Representatives and is now before a Senate committee, would establish
a federal tribunal to investigate and monitor criticism of Israel on American
- On Sept. 17, 2003, the House Select Subcommittee on Education
unanimously approved H.R. 3077, the "International Studies in Higher
Education Act." The chief sponsor of the legislation was Rep. Peter
Hoekstra, a conservative Republican from Michigan.
- H.R. 3077 calls for the establishment of a seven-member
advisory board that would have the power to recommend cutting federal funding
for colleges and universities, which have offered a venue for academic
and public debate on the Arab-Israeli conflict.
- Two members of the board would be appointed by the Senate,
two by the House, and three by the Secretary of Education - two of whom
are required to be from US federal security agencies.
- The American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress
and the Anti-Defamation League, "made passing the bill a major goal,"
according to Forward, a Jewish weekly based in New York, and "based
their charges of bias at Middle East centers on some independent research
and anecdotal complaints, but mainly on a book published two years ago
by Martin Kramer," a Middle East scholar at Tel Aviv Universityís
Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies.
- "Kramer's polemic, 'Ivory Towers on Sand: The Failure
of Middle Eastern Studies in America,' charges that America's Middle East
scholars are (promoting) anti-Israel and anti-American dogmas," writes
Forward. "The conclusion of his study, published by the Washington
Institute for Near East Policy, a pro-Israel think tank, is that bold action
should be taken to reform this program."
- The American Free Press newspaper is more critical: "In
other words, it would be another federal 'blue ribbon' panel akin to the
Warren Commission that ostensibly investigated the JFK assassination and
the now highly-suspect federal commission looking into the 9/11 terrorist
- Some members of the Jewish organization community are
uncomfortable with the Jewish groups' strong push for a bill portrayed
by critics as an exercise in McCarthyism.
- "This bill is bad both on its merits and because
of the way it makes us look," a senior official with a major Jewish
organization, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Forward.
- Arab News has learned that the main promoters of this
effort to control intellectual debate on the college campuses are all prominent
and outspoken supporters of Israel and harsh critics of the Arab and Muslim
worlds. They are the above-mentioned Martin Kramer; Stanley Kurtz, a contributor
to the anti-Arab National Review Online and a research fellow at the pro-Israel
Hoover Institution; and Daniel Pipes, founder of the pro-Israel Middle
East Institute and its affiliate, Campus Watch, an organization that keeps
tabs on college professors and students who "are or are suspected
of being" critics of Israel.
- Another group supporting the bill is the US India Political
Action Committee, an Indian-American group that has been working closely
with the Israeli lobby now that Israel and India are geopolitically allied.
- Not to be overlooked is that this is an election year,
and many Republicans and Democrats in Congress are loath to risk losing
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