- The Israeli lobby has launched an all-out drive to ensure
congressional passage of a bill, approved by the House and now before a
Senate committee that would set up a federal tribunal to investigate and
monitor criticism of Israel on American college campuses.
- Ten months ago the New York-based Jewish Week newspaper
claimed that the report by American Free Press that Republican members
of the Senate were planning to crack down on college and university professors
who were critical of Israel was "a dangerous urban legend at best,
deliberate disinformation at worst." They were claiming that AFP lied.
- However, on Sept. 17, 2003, the House Subcommittee on
Select Education unanimously approved H.R. 3077, the International Studies
in Higher Education Act, which was then passed by the full House on Oct.
21. The chief sponsor of the legislation was Rep. Peter Hoekstra, a conservative
Republican from Michigan.
- DANGEROUS LEGISLATION
- Critics charge that the bill is dangerous-a direct affront
to the First Amendment and the product of intrigue by a small clique of
individuals and organizations which combines the forces of the powerful
Israeli lobby in official Washington.
- Leading the push for Senate approval of the bill are
the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of B'nai B'rith, run by Abe Foxman, the
American Jewish Congress and the American Jewish Committee.
- Also lending its support is Empower America, the neo-conservative
front group established by William Kristol, editor and publisher of billionaire
Rupert Murdoch's Weekly Standard, which is said to be the "intellectual"
journal that governs the train of foreign policy thinking in the Bush administration.
- One other group has lent its support: the U.S. India
Political Action Committee, an Indian-American group that has been working
closely with the Israeli lobby now that Israel and India are geopolitically
- H.R. 3077 is bureaucratic in its tone, decipherable only
to those with the capacity to wade through legislative linguistics. It
would set up a seven-member advisory board that would have the power to
recommend cutting federal funding for colleges and universities that are
viewed as harboring academic critics of Israel.
- 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 U.S. federal security agencies. The various appointees
would be selected from what The Christian Science Monitor described on
March 11 as "politicians, representatives of cultural and educational
organizations, and private citizens."
- FEARS ECHOED
- Gilbert Merk, vice provost for international affairs
and development and director of the Center for International Studies at
Duke University, has echoed the fears of many when he charged that this
advisory board "could easily be hijacked by those who have a political
axe to grind and become a vehicle for an inquisition."
- The primary individuals promoting this effort to control
intellectual debate on the college campuses are prominent and outspoken
supporters of Israel and harsh critics of the Arab and Muslim worlds. They
- * Martin Kramer, a professor of Arab studies at the Moshe
Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University in Israel;
- * Stanley Kurtz, a contributor of ex-CIA man William
F. Buckley Jr.'s bitterly anti-Arab National Review Online and a research
fellow at the staunchly pro-Israel Hoover Institution; and
- * Daniel Pipes, founder of the pro-Israel Middle East
Forum and its affiliate, Campus Watch, an ADL-style organization that keeps
tabs on college professors and students who are-or are suspected of being-critics
- These three, along with the Israeli lobby, are claiming
that they are fighting "anti-Americanism" as it is being taught
on the college campuses.
- Republicans in Congress have joined this chorus, preferring
to allow their constituents to think that this is an "America First"
- Juan Cole of the History News Network responds to this
extraordinary twist on reality saying that the claim of "anti-Americanism"
is intellectually dishonest.
- "What they mean . . . if you pin them down is ambivalence
about the Iraq war, or dislike of Israeli colonization of the West Bank,
or recognition that the U.S. government has sometimes in the past been
in bed with present enemies like al Qaeda or Saddam. None of these positions
is 'anti-American,' and any attempt by a congressionally appointed body
to tell university professors they cannot say these things-or that if they
say them they must hire someone else who will say the opposite-is a contravention
of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution."
- The promoters are also suggesting that this legislation
would, according to the American Jewish Committee, "enhance intellectual
freedom on campus by enabling diverse viewpoints to be heard." Of
course, the legislation would do precisely the opposite, say critics.
- Lisa Anderson of the Columbia University School of International
and Public Affairs said in response that "this plan . . . is not about
diversity, or even about the truth."
- Ms. Anderson does not cite the role of the Israeli lobby,
but instead targets conservative Republicans who are acting as the Israeli
lobby's surrogates and says that this plan is "about the conviction
of conservative political activists that the American university community
is insufficiently patriotic, or perhaps simply insufficiently conservative."
- What she should be saying is that these Republicans who
are carrying water for Israel are concerned that universities are "insufficiently
- The Republican House members who originally joined Hoekstra
in co-sponsoring this legislation should be named for the record. They
are: John A. Boehner (Ohio), John R. Carter (Texas), Tom Cole (Oklahoma),
James Greenwood (Penn.), Howard (Buck) McKeon (Calif.), Patrick J. Tiberi
(Ohio) and Joe Wilson (South Carolina).
- Americans will not be able to find out how their representatives
voted on the bill. Hoekstra asked for a suspension of the House rules,
which was approved, making it possible for the controversial measure to
be passed with an unrecorded "voice vote." There is no record
of how individual House members voted or if they even voted at all.
- FIRST MEASURE
- The measure passed by the House is the same type of proposed
"ideological diversity" legislation that AFP detailed in its
Oct. 20, 2003, issue. At the time, the measure was being kicked around
for possible introduction in the Senate by two prominent Republicans, Rick
Santorum (Penn.) and Sam Brownback (Kan.).
- AFP's initial report on the legislation garnered so much
attention from American college and university professors and on the Internet,
even so far as the Arab world, that the resulting negative publicity forced
Santorum and Brownback to back off.
- Many major American education organizations, including
the teacher's union, the National Education Association, have raised their
concerns about this campaign to muzzle the free speech of teachers, professors
and instructors. The American Civil Liberties Union has also protested
- Critics say this is a new form of what has been known
in the past as "McCarthyism," and no matter what you may think
about the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy, whose name, rightly or wrongly, inspired
that terminology, the truth is that this legislation is "McCarthyism"
by virtue of the popular definition.
- The only chance to destroy this legislation and stop
it dead in its tracks is for enough grassroots citizens to rise up and
demand that H.R. 3077 be put to rest.
- And believe it or not, the one senator who may be able
to stop it is Edward M. (Ted) Kennedy of Massachusetts.