Home inSight Follow The Money Behind Anti-Israel Invective on Campus

Follow The Money Behind Anti-Israel Invective on Campus

Jonathan Schanzer Spring 2009

The anti-Israel sentiment on American university campuses, encouraged by an anti-Israel professorate, stems in large part from the way Middle Eastern studies is taught at the post-graduate level. When graduate students and PhD candidates are trained to teach anti-Israel invective, they ultimately become anti-Israel professors themselves.

To understand why so many graduate students are trained to teach anti-Israel bias, we need to follow the money.

A great deal of the grant monies allotted to these professors-in-training come from the federal government through a program known as Title VI. This program, formally called Title VI of the Higher Education Act, provides funding and support for Middle Eastern educational programs, including the “study by Americans of foreign languages, as well as area and other international studies critical to strengthening our ability to ensure the nation’s security and economic competitiveness.” Title VI bankrolls no less than 17 National Resource Centers on the Middle East at U.S. universities.

While in theory the program would prepare new generations for the challenges ahead in a dangerous region, this is not the case. In practice, Title VI uses federal government funds to subsidize the anti-Israel and anti-America vitriol reported all too often on campus.

Take, for example, the Bethesda, Maryland-based Palestinian American Research Center (PARC). This registered nonprofit organization receives Title VI funding, along with monies from the U.S. State Department, for “Palestinian studies.” Unfortunately, the grant recipients rarely, if ever, study the radicalism and violence that dominates Palestinian society. Rather, much of the work produced by PARC funding recipients glorifies Palestinian “resistance” against Israel and vilifies the Jewish state.

It’s not hard to figure out why this approach is encouraged. Prominent PARC professors include: Columbia University’s Rashid Khalidi, a reported former Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) spokesman (see pages 3 and 5 for more on Khalidi); Boston University’s Augustus Norton, an apologist for the Lebanese terrorist group, Hezbollah; Stanford University’s Joel Beinin, who denounced U.S. “imperialism” on al-Jazeera television; New York University’s Zachary Lockman, who backed a proposed academic boycott of Israel; and the University of Pennsylvania’s Ian Lustick, who rails against America for the war on terror, rather than those who spill blood in the name of Islam.

Under the direction of these and other controversial figures, according to PARC’s tax returns, the organization has raised more than $550,000 since 2002 for graduate students of the Middle East to foster an “appreciation of Palestinian culture and society.” On an individual basis, PARC doles out grants of $3,000 to $8,000 for scholar activism disguised as academia.

An additional concern is the fact that PARC has received “foreign grants” from a member of the radical London School of Economics Students’ Union (LSESU), a professor of the West Bank’s radical al-Najah University, as well as other funds from Lebanon, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, and beyond.

In fact, at least two Palestinian activists have taken part in PARC activities. Hadeel Qazzaz, listed on the website as the “Palestine Director” of the organization, appears to split her time between PARC grant administration and agitating against Israel. A teary-eyed Qazzaz appears on YouTube lamenting the Israeli strictures that prevent her son from traveling. An education specialist by training, Qazzaz lectures on Palestinian women’s lives “under occupation.”

In 2000, PARC also brought in a scholar activist named Salim Tamari to participate in a panel of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA). Critics of MESA often lambaste the organization and its members for whitewashing Middle East violence, corruption, and authoritarianism. At the conference, Tamari extolled the virtues of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), an organization dedicated to perpetuating the Palestinian refugee problem rather than solving it.

MESA activities notwithstanding, PARC has produced very little beyond the dissertations they fund. Of the little substantive work that has appeared on PARC’s Web site, some can best be described as Palestinian propaganda used to condemn the Israeli measures taken in response to violence. One project touted as an achievement by the organization is titled, “The ‘Nakba” in the Memories of Second and Third Generation Palestinian Refugees in Syria.” Nakba is Arabic for “catastrophe,” which is the word Palestinians use to describe the Palestinian military defeat and the creation of Israel in 1948.

One PARC article, penned by a grant recipient named Lori Allen (now at University of Cambridge in the U.K.), is a lengthy rationale for Palestinian suicide bombing. Specifically, Allen explained how Palestinians were expressing “resistance to occupation and sacrificing for that struggle,” and how, after the “outbreak of the intifada, Israel has stepped up attacks on civilians… stifling Palestinians’ hopes for a better future.” Allen concludes, “at least suicide bombers go out fighting.”

PARC is only one example of the ways in which U.S. taxpayer funds are misspent. But, steps can be taken to correct the problem. The Department of Education, in particular, should be encouraged to conduct a full review of PARC activities to ensure that they conform to the stated goals of the Title VI mission. Other Title VI programs should be held to the same scrutiny. Only then will change come about in the way Middle Eastern studies is taught.

(For more information about the way in which professors teach anti-Israel, anti-America and pro-Islamist ideas in the classroom, visit Campus Watch.)