Do Directors of Title VI Middle East Studies Centers Intend to Boycott Israeli Universities?
by Winfield Myers • Sep 24, 2014 at 5:06 pm
Four of six directors of federally-funded university Middle East studies centers who signed a letter pledging "not to collaborate on projects and events involving Israeli academic institutions" have yet to clarify whether they spoke for their centers or merely for themselves. They are:
As CW revealed earlier this week, Abi-Mershed's claim that "we are not tax supported" was refuted by his dean, who confirmed that, "the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies has been, and we hope will remain, a recipient of Title VI designation and support."
Two others, Lila Abu-Lughod, director of the Middle East Institute at Columbia University, and Gabriel Piterberg, who directs the Center for Near Eastern Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, confirmed that their pledges were merely personal and will not affect the centers they lead.
The letter each signed stated:
By signing the pledge the directors risked running afoul of federal policies. As leaders of taxpayer-supported U.S. Department of Education Title VI National Resource Centers (NRC), whose mission is to provide America with individuals having expertise in key languages and areas, they are required by the Higher Education Opportunity Act to give "assurances" that they will "maintain linkages with overseas institutions of higher education and other organizations that may contribute to the teaching and research of the Center."
Did Osama Abi-Mershed, miriam cooke, John Esposito, and Helga Tawil-Souri pledge their personal boycott of Israeli institutions? Or do they speak for the centers they lead?
Taxpayers deserve to know if their dollars are being used to support academic centers that fail to follow federal policy.
To make your voice heard:
To bring the directors' actions to the attention of the correct government agency, please draw on the note below (best to use your own words) and send it (best by postal mail or fax) to
Dear Ms. McKissic:
I request that the U.S. Department of Education cease all funding for the following centers:
The directors of these four centers have pledged "not to collaborate on projects and events involving Israeli academic institutions." Their stated intentions as directors demonstrate the failure of the centers they lead to adhere to their assurance to "maintain linkages with overseas institutions of higher education and other organizations that may contribute to the teaching and research of the Center" as required by federal statute in return for Title VI funds.
I do not wish to see my tax dollars used to support programs that violate federal policy.
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