Last week President Trump signed an executive order protecting freedom of speech on campus. Trump said he was taking a "historic action to defend American students and American values that have been under siege". The president declared it is the first step the administration intends to take in order to defend students' rights. According to Trump, universities that seek taxpayers dollars should promote free speech, not silence it. However, opponents describe this step as "alarming" fearing it could leave federally funded research vulnerable to political influence.
While there are questions on how it would be implemented, the executive order should have a strong impact on the anti-Jewish and anti-Israel sentiments on campus.
Some of the many instances were reported by the student group, Tikvah: Students for Israel, at the University of California, Berkeley. The University's Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES) has refused to host their guest speaker, Danny Ayalon, a former Knesset Member and the Israeli Ambassador to the US from 2002 until 2006. CMES, Tikvah argues, is hosting countless of anti-Israel events, and has shown an "undeniable pattern of double standards and anti-semitism". Tikvah also published a long list of anti-Israel events which CMES hosted in 2017 and 2018. For years, CMES is known for holding anti-Israel views. To recall, the former CMES chair invited Israeli Professor Neve Gordon for a sabbatical, to write his notorious book Israel's Occupation in 2004. The only Israeli speakers they invite are the likes of Profs. Oren Yiftachel and Lev Luis Grinberg. In 2017 Tikvah reported also that CMES Prof. Hatem Bazian posted a number of tweets targeting Jews. One tweet which he shared had a picture of an Orthodox Jew, with the wording: "Mom, look! I is chosen! I can now kill, rape, smuggle organs and steal the land of Palestinians ‘Yay’ #Ashke-Nazi". Another tweet showed North Korea’s leader wearing a yarmulke, saying "God chose me," and "I just converted all of North Korea to Judaism. Donald Tlump (sic): Now my nukes are legal and I can annex South Korea and you need to start paying me 34 billion a year in welfare." Bazian later apologized for the antisemitic tweets.
Many campus cases were documented, some have even reached the court. Last week, the California State University agreed to settle the legal case Volk v. Board of Trustees, which charged it with antisemitism. It involved two Jewish students, Liam Kern, and Charles Volk, alleging that university officials prevented Hillel from participating in the fair "Know Your Rights" in 2017. They claimed the organizers deliberately excluded Hillel from the fair, and no action was taken against the organizers. Kern and Volk also alleged that the university failed to respond effectively to other anti-Semitic incidents on campus. In Spring 2016, Hillel invited Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat to speak on campus. Barkat’s speech was disrupted and eventually shut down by "a mob of near-violent activists screaming antisemitic epithets through megaphones." As part of their settlement CSU will publish a statement acknowledging that for many Jews, Zionism is an important part of their identity. The university must also hire a coordinator for Jewish student life and refer cases of religious discrimination to an outside investigator. It would also have to allocate $200,000 to support education outreach efforts promoting viewpoint diversity.
In a 2011 litigation which was dismissed by Court, Jessica Felber a student at Berkeley, sued the regents of the University of California, alleging they tolerated the "development of a dangerous anti-Semitic climate" on the UC campuses, and "failed to adopt policies, regulations, and procedures to protect Jewish students from threats, intimidation, and harassment" by members of two student groups, Students for Justice in Palestine (“SJP”) and the Muslim Student Association (“MSA”). Based on the court proceedings, a violent incident took place during the Israeli Apartheid Week in March of 2010, when Felber participated in an event called “Israel Peace and Diversity Week,” and held a placard reading "Israel wants Peace". Another student, Husam Zakharia, a leader in SJP, allegedly rammed a shopping cart into Felber intentionally, causing her physical injuries that needed medical care. Felber had previously encountered Zakharia more than a year earlier, at a political rally, where Zakharia allegedly spit at her and yelled, “you are disgusting.” Felber recounted being fearful to walk on campus alone. The proceedings also mentioned that in January of 2011, SJP and MSA protestors disrupted a speech by the Israeli ambassador, which resulted in indictments brought against eleven students. The District Court Judge who first dismissed the case on free-speech grounds, had credited the university administrators with taking the steps to ensure the students' rights were protected and to minimize the protests' potential for violence.
Too early to note if the tide is turning, but Jewish and Israeli, students and faculty should pay close attention to how the executive order would affect their rights.
Executive Order on Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency, and Accountability at Colleges and Universities
Issued on: March 21, 2019
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Purpose. The purpose of this order is to enhance the quality of postsecondary education by making it more affordable, more transparent, and more accountable. Institutions of higher education (institutions) should be accountable both for student outcomes and for student life on campus.
In particular, my Administration seeks to promote free and open debate on college and university campuses. Free inquiry is an essential feature of our Nation’s democracy, and it promotes learning, scientific discovery, and economic prosperity. We must encourage institutions to appropriately account for this bedrock principle in their administration of student life and to avoid creating environments that stifle competing perspectives, thereby potentially impeding beneficial research and undermining learning.
The financial burden of higher education on students and their families is also a national problem that needs immediate attention. Over the past 30 years, college tuition and fees have grown at more than twice the rate of the Consumer Price Index. Rising student loan debt, coupled with low repayment rates, threatens the financial health of both individuals and families as well as of Federal student loan programs. In addition, too many programs of study fail to prepare students for success in today’s job market.
The Federal Government can take meaningful steps to address these problems. Selecting an institution and course of study are important decisions for prospective students and significantly affect long-term earnings. Institutions should be transparent about the average earnings and loan repayment rates of former students who received Federal student aid. Additionally, the Federal Government should make this information readily accessible to the public and to prospective students and their families, in particular.
This order will promote greater access to critical information regarding the prices and outcomes of postsecondary education, thereby furthering the goals of the National Council for the American Worker established by Executive Order 13845 of July 19, 2018 (Establishing the President’s National Council for the American Worker). Increased information disclosure will help ensure that individuals make educational choices suited to their needs, interests, and circumstances. Access to this information will also increase institutional accountability and encourage institutions to take into account likely future earnings when establishing the cost of their educational programs.
Sec. 2. Policy. It is the policy of the Federal Government to:
(a) encourage institutions to foster environments that promote open, intellectually engaging, and diverse debate, including through compliance with the First Amendment for public institutions and compliance with stated institutional policies regarding freedom of speech for private institutions;
(b) help students (including workers seeking additional training) and their families understand, through better data and career counseling, that not all institutions, degrees, or fields of study provide similar returns on their investment, and consider that their educational decisions should account for the opportunity cost of enrolling in a program;
(c) align the incentives of institutions with those of students and taxpayers to ensure that institutions share the financial risk associated with Federal student loan programs;
(d) help borrowers avoid defaulting on their Federal student loans by educating them about risks, repayment obligations, and repayment options; and
(e) supplement efforts by States and institutions by disseminating information to assist students in completing their degrees faster and at lower cost.
Sec. 3. Improving Free Inquiry on Campus. (a) To advance the policy described in subsection 2(a) of this order, the heads of covered agencies shall, in coordination with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, take appropriate steps, in a manner consistent with applicable law, including the First Amendment, to ensure institutions that receive Federal research or education grants promote free inquiry, including through compliance with all applicable Federal laws, regulations, and policies.
(b) “Covered agencies” for purposes of this section are the Departments of Defense, the Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services, Transportation, Energy, and Education; the Environmental Protection Agency; the National Science Foundation; and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
(c) “Federal research or education grants” for purposes of this section include all funding provided by a covered agency directly to an institution but do not include funding associated with Federal student aid programs that cover tuition, fees, or stipends.
Sec. 4. Improving Transparency and Accountability on Campus. (a) To advance the policy described in subsections 2(b)-(e) of this order, the Secretary of Education (Secretary) shall, to the extent consistent with applicable law:
(i) make available, by January 1, 2020, through the Office of Federal Student Aid, a secure and confidential website and mobile application that informs Federal student loan borrowers of how much they owe, how much their monthly payment will be when they enter repayment, available repayment options, how long each repayment option will take, and how to enroll in the repayment option that best serves their needs;
(ii) expand and update annually the College Scorecard, or any successor, with the following program-level data for each certificate, degree, graduate, and professional program, for former students who received Federal student aid:
(A) estimated median earnings;
(B) median Stafford loan debt;
(C) median Graduate PLUS loan debt (if applicable);
(D) median Parent PLUS loan debt; and
(E) student loan default rate and repayment rate; and
(iii) expand and update annually the College Scorecard, or any successor, with the following institution-level data, providing the aggregate for all certificate, degree, graduate, and professional programs, for former students who received Federal student aid:
(A) student loan default rate and repayment rate;
(B) Graduate PLUS default rate and repayment rate; and
(C) Parent PLUS default rate and repayment rate.
(b) For the purpose of implementing subsection (a)(ii) of this section, the Secretary of the Treasury shall, upon the request of the Secretary, provide in a timely manner appropriate statistical studies and compilations regarding program-level earnings, consistent with section 6108(b) of title 26, United States Code, other applicable laws, and available data regarding programs attended by former students who received Federal student aid.
Sec. 5. Reporting Requirements. (a) By January 1, 2020, the Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, shall submit to the President, through the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy and the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, a report identifying and analyzing policy options for sharing the risk associated with Federal student loan debt among the Federal Government, institutions, and other entities.
(b) By January 1, 2020, the Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, shall submit to the President, through the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy and the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, policy recommendations for reforming the collections process for Federal student loans in default.
(c) Beginning July 1, 2019, the Secretary shall provide an annual update on the Secretary’s progress in implementing the policies set forth in subsections 2(b)-(e) of this order to the National Council for the American Worker at meetings of the Council.
(d) Within 1 year of the date of this order, the Secretary shall compile information about successful State and institutional efforts to promote students’ timely and affordable completion of a postsecondary program of study. Based on that information, the Secretary shall publish a compilation of research results that addresses:
(i) how some States and institutions have better facilitated successful transfer of credits and degree completion by transfer students;
(ii) how States and institutions can increase access to dual enrollment programs; and
(iii) other strategies for increasing student success, especially among students at high risk of not completing a postsecondary program of study.
Sec. 6. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
DONALD J. TRUMP
THE WHITE HOUSE,
March 21, 2019.
Trump signs executive order on free speech on college campuses
President Trump announced March 21 that he would make federal funding for universities contingent on assurances of free speech. (The Washington Post)
President Trump signed an executive order Thursday protecting freedom of speech on college campuses, surrounded by student activists who have said conservative views are suppressed at universities.
Trump said he was taking “historic action to defend American students and American values that have been under siege.”
The order does not, on its face, make dramatic changes. But it was welcomed by people who say universities are fostering an unbalanced, liberal indoctrination of students — and condemned by those who say freedom of inquiry is a fundamental tenet of higher education, one the government should not be defining.
More than 100 students joined the president in the East Room for the signing, according to a statement from the White House, along with state legislators, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. The order directs 12 agencies that make federal grants, in coordination with the Office of Management and Budget, to ensure colleges are complying with the law and their own policies to promote free inquiry and debate.
It does not tie student-aid money to the order.
[Questions abound after Trump threatens to strip funding from colleges that don’t support free speech]
“Schools are already supposed to be following these rules,” a senior administration official said Thursday. “And essentially, each agency already conditions grants, and schools are certifying that they’re following these conditions. And they will just add free speech as one of those conditions.”
Trump told the students that people can have different views, “but they have to let you speak.”
The president declared it the first in a number of steps the administration would take to defend students’ rights. Universities have tried to restrict free thought and impose conformity, he said.
“All of that changes right now,” he said. “We’re dealing with billions and billions and billions of dollars.”
Universities that want taxpayer dollars should promote free speech, not silence it, he said.
Trump’s announcement earlier this month that he would make federal funding for universities contingent on assurances of free speech elicited cheers and applause at the Conservative Political Action Conference meeting. But it also prompted questions, including who would define and judge free speech and what type of federal funding could be withheld — research dollars, student aid or both.
Those following the issue said they were relieved the order does not designate or create an agency to police speech on campus, while acknowledging that the order’s full effect could not be known until it was implemented.
“To the extent that the executive order asks colleges to do what they are either legally required to do — follow the First Amendment on public campuses, or follow their own promises on private campuses — we think that should be uncontroversial,” said Robert Shibley, executive director of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which advocates for freedom of speech on campus.
“It will come down to how each agency decides to implement it, what the steps are they take to do that,” Shibley said.
His organization and others, he said, will watch to see whether those agencies use clearly established First Amendment principles upheld by law or instead rely on their own interpretations.
Suzanne Nossel, the chief executive officer of PEN America, a human rights organization that advocates for free expression, said the political context of the order was disturbing.
It must be enforced in an ideologically neutral way that upholds the government’s responsibility not to discriminate based on viewpoint, she said, otherwise there is the risk “that an order that purports to uphold the First Amendment ends up violating it.”
Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, called the order “alarming” because it could leave federally funded research vulnerable to political influence.
Ted Mitchell, president of the American Council on Education, which represents college and university presidents, said in a statement Thursday that it remains to be seen how those requirements will be expanded.
“No matter how this order is implemented, it is neither needed nor desirable, and could lead to unwanted federal micromanagement of the cutting-edge research that is critical to our nation’s continued vitality and global leadership,” he said.
Spencer Brown, spokesman for the Young America’s Foundation, which advocates for free speech on high school and college campuses, welcomed the order.
He said it will build upon decades of efforts by the group, including a 1983 case that went to the Supreme Court after police arrested two members of the foundation outside the Soviet Embassy in Washington who were protesting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
More than a dozen student activists from the foundation were invited to the White House for the signing ceremony, Brown said. While suppression of certain viewpoints on campus is a long-running issue, he said, it has become worse in recent years.
“I do think we’ve seen a ratcheting-up of the intensity,” he said, in the way conservative students “are treated as second-class citizens on campus. There has been a huge spike in opposition and attempted blocking of our events since Trump was elected president.”
Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, an antiabortion organization that has groups on high school and college campuses in all 50 states, echoed that idea. “Since the election of President Trump, it’s gotten more dangerous on campus,” she said. “Those who advocate for legal abortion feel their backs are against the wall. It’s more tense.”
She said students have told her about other students and professors obstructing their efforts to share their antiabortion views — erasing sidewalk chalk messages, for example, throwing blankets over information tables and pulling crosses out of the ground. “They have had to fight for their First Amendment rights,” Hawkins said. “This is an exciting day for us.”
Trump strongly defended free speech on campus two years ago after police at the University of California at Berkeley canceled a talk by the far-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos amid intense protests by masked activists, who set fires and threw stones. Trump tweeted the next morning, “If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view — NO FEDERAL FUNDS?”
Many higher-education leaders say freedom of speech is central to their academic mission.
“College and university campuses are leading the way for our society in supporting free speech,” Julie Wollman, president of Widener University in Pennsylvania, said in a statement. “On most campuses that work happens daily and naturally, without fanfare, because our overarching and common mission in American higher education is to broadly educate and prepare students for active participation as engaged citizens in our democracy.”
The tensions that make headlines reflect the commitment to honor and encourage free speech, Wollman said.
Trump Signs Broad Executive Order
President delivers on promise to punish colleges that don't show they guarantee free speech on campus, and includes language on outcomes data and risk sharing. But it's unclear what force it will carry.
By Andrew Kreighbaum
March 22, 2019
President Trump on Thursday delivered on his promise of an executive order that would hold colleges that receive federal research funding accountable for protecting free speech.
However, his bombastic rhetoric in a White House East Room ceremony wasn't matched by the modest language of the order.
"If a college or university does not allow you to speak, we will not give them money. It's that simple," he said Thursday.
But the executive order essentially directs federal agencies to ensure colleges are following requirements already in place. And it doesn't spell out how enforcement of the order would work.
It directs 12 federal grant-making agencies to coordinate with the Office of Management and Budget to certify that colleges receiving federal research funds comply with existing federal law and regulations involving free academic inquiry. While the administration expects public institutions to uphold the First Amendment, the order says, private colleges are expected to comply with their "stated institutional policies" on freedom of speech. The free-speech directive doesn't apply to federal student aid programs.
The document also directs the Education Department to publish program-level data in the College Scorecard on measures of student outcomes, including earnings, student debt, default rates and loan repayment rates.
And it requires the department to submit policy recommendations to the White House by January 2020 on risk-sharing proposals for colleges that participate in the federal student loan program.
The executive order puts extra force behind several policies the White House has backed previously. For example, earlier this week the administration released a report on priorities for reauthorization of the Higher Education Act that included program-level data and a new accountability system for colleges.
President Trump has weighed in repeatedly on alleged suppression of free speech on campuses, especially speech by conservative students. Most recently, he announced plans for an executive order addressing the issue at the Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual gathering of activists and elected officials.
"Free inquiry is an essential feature of this nation's democracy, and it promotes learning, scientific discovery and economic prosperity," the order reads. "We must encourage institutions to appropriately account for this bedrock principle in their administration of student life and to avoid creating environments that stifle competing perspectives, thereby potentially impeding beneficial research and undermining learning."
The executive order had been in the works long before the president’s comments at the conservative event.
But it’s not clear what kind of teeth the order has beyond new certification requirements for institutions. A senior administration official told reporters on Thursday that federal agencies will enforce it the same way they enforce existing federal grant conditions, which colleges already are required to follow. The official didn’t address details about how the order would be implemented.
Agencies covered by the order include the Departments of Education, Defense, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services, Transportation, and Energy, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency, National Science Foundation and NASA.
It says those agencies should "take appropriate steps, in a manner consistent with applicable law, including the First Amendment, to ensure institutions that receive federal research or education grants promote free inquiry through compliance with all applicable federal laws, regulations and policies."
Trump has repeatedly threatened federal funding for colleges and universities, beginning in 2017, when violent protests led the University of California, Berkeley, to cancel a planned lecture by Milo Yiannopoulos, a conservative provocateur with a history of inflammatory statements disparaging women and minorities. And last month at the Berkeley campus, an activist with the conservative student group Turning Point USA was punched in the face by another man. Neither attended the university, and campus police later arrested the assailant. But Trump had the activist, Hayden Williams, appear on stage with him at CPAC and urged him to sue the university.
The president's message has been that colleges should either guarantee free speech or risk losing federal money. Jeff Sessions, the administration's first attorney general, also made campus free speech a key issue for the Justice Department. Under Sessions, the DOJ filed statements of interest in several ongoing lawsuits involving issues such as campus free speech zones.
On Thursday, Charlie Kirk, the founder of Turning Point, called the executive order "historic."
Reactions to the Order
However, higher education leaders and groups have said the long-promised executive order is a solution in search of a problem. Research universities and other public colleges promote free speech and academic freedom as part of their mission, the groups have argued. And Congress, not the president, controls appropriations to colleges and universities.
Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, said the executive order is unnecessary.
“Public universities are already bound by the First Amendment and work each day to defend and honor it. The commitment to free speech, the vigorous exchange of ideas and academic freedom go to the very core of what public universities are all about. It is inherent to their very identity,” he said in a statement. “As institutions of higher learning, public universities are constantly working to identify new ways to educate students on the importance of free expression, provide venues for free speech and advance our world through free academic inquiry. No executive order will change that.”
Ted Mitchell, president of the American Council on Education, said the order was unnecessary and "could lead to unwanted federal micromanagement of the cutting-edge research that is critical to our nation’s continued vitality and global leadership." He urged the administration to consult with higher ed institutions as it carried out the order.
Julie Schmid, executive director of the American Association of University Professors, said the executive order appeared to accomplish little procedurally, "but is troubling in that it serves a broader goal of attempting to discredit higher education."
The lack of detail in the order also raises questions for colleges about how it will be carried out. Although the order directs federal agencies to coordinate with OMB in carrying out the rule, the administration official said it's more likely that each agency would issue guidance tailored to its particular grant programs.
"At the moment we anticipate each agency, in coordination with the general counsel's office, would be the arbiter," the official said.
Jonathan Friedman, project director for campus free speech at PEN America, said that approach virtually guarantees inconsistent interpretations at federal agencies. And he said linking research grant funding to free speech protections could have the effect of chilling some speech, because it conveys to faculty members and administrators that they are being watched by the federal government.
"It's essentially an order designed to create a lot of chaos and confusion," Friedman said.
He said Trump's focus on conservatives being censored on campus raises questions about whether his administration will apply speech protections for all points of view.
"There's no question that a more bipartisan or even-handed approach to free expression would be much wiser," Friedman said.
But Joe Cohn, legislative and policy director at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, said it was too early to praise or criticize the executive order without more details.
"We haven't seen what the agencies plan to do. That work has yet to happen," he said. "We have seen throughout our history at FIRE how censorship has victims on every part of the political spectrum. How the agencies take their next steps will be important in determining whether or not the public can trust the federal government to protect the rights of all speakers, and not just speakers with whom they politically agree."
Lamar Alexander, the GOP chairman of the Senate education committee, cautioned against Congress or the president getting involved in defining what can be said on campus.
“The U.S. Constitution guarantees free speech," Alexander said. "Federal courts define and enforce it. The Department of Justice can weigh in. Conservatives don’t like it when judges try to write laws, and conservatives should not like it when legislators and agencies try to rewrite the Constitution.”
The college-transparency component of the order directs the Education Department to by 2020 produce a website that will allow student loan borrowers to view information about their loans, including their total debt, monthly payment when entering repayment and available repayment options. Betsy DeVos, the U.S. secretary of education, already had announced plans to create a single website for student borrowers as part of an overhaul of the federal loan-servicing system.
The expanded College Scorecard will include data for each certificate, degree and graduate and professional program on median earnings, median debt, Graduate PLUS loan debt, Parent PLUS loan debt and other metrics. The order directs the Treasury Department to work with the Education Department to produce program-level earnings data. And it directs the Education Department to submit, in consultation with the Treasury Department, recommendations by January 2020 to reform the collections process for defaulted federal student loans.
The White House said last year that it would release additional program-level data through the Scorecard. After the Education Department announced it would rescind the gainful-employment rule, which applied only to career education programs, officials said the additional program-level information would replace the rule and provide accountability for all colleges.
Amy Laitinen, director for higher education at New America's education policy program, said the order reflects how policy makers increasingly recognize that students need more information before making important and expensive decisions on where to enroll. But she said expanding the Scorecard would still leave out roughly 30 percent of students who aren't counted right now because they don't receive federal aid.
"If we want to count all students, Congress has to do it," she said. "The truth is there's only so much the administration can do because of existing law."
CSU to Acknowledge ‘Zionism Is an Important Part of’ Jewish Identity in SFSU Case
BY AARON BANDLER | MAR 20, 2019 | CALIFORNIA
The California State University (CSU) agreed to a settlement on March 20 that includes them issuing a statement acknowledging Zionism’s importance to Jewish identity.
The case, Volk v. Board of Trustees, involved two San Francisco State University (SFSU) Jewish students, identified as Liam Kern and Charles Volk, alleging that SFSU and the CSU Board of Trustees engaged in anti-Semitismagainst them when SFSU prevented the campus Hillel from participating in the campus’ “Know Your Rights” fair in February 2017. Kern and Volk also alleged that the university failed to effectively respond to anti-Semitic incidents on campus. These would constitute as violations of California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, Kern and Volk argued. They were represented by The Lawfare Project and Winston & Strawn LLP.
According to a copy of the settlement obtained by the Journal, CSU will issue a statement stating that it will protect the rights of all students at SFSU, including Jewish and pro-Israel students, and will acknowledge that “for many Jews, Zionism is an important part of their identity.”
SFSU will also be required to hire a coordinator for Jewish Student Life, refer any cases of religious discrimination to an outside investigator and allocate $200,000 toward “educational outreach efforts to support education outreach efforts to promote viewpoint diversity.”
“California State University’s public recognition that Zionism is an integral part of Jewish identity represents a major victory for Jewish students at SFSU and across the country,” Lawfare Project executive director Brooke Goldstein said in a statement. “Today, we have ensured that SFSU will put in place important protections for Jewish and Zionist students to prevent continued discrimination. We are confident that this will change the campus climate for the better.”
A university spokesperson said in a statement to the Journal, “Today’s settlement in the Volk v CSU case brings an end to what has been a very emotional and challenging issue for all parties involved. We are pleased that we reached common ground on steps for moving forward. The settlement contains items related to student programming; education and training efforts; review of policies and procedures; and opportunities for consultation with experts in the field on our efforts. It should be noted that many elements build on efforts already initiated by SF State toward improving campus climate.”
“The settlement emphasizes the importance of improving student experiences and student lives,” the statement continued. “It allows SF State to reiterate its commitment to equity and inclusion for all – including those who are Jewish – and reaffirms the values of free expression and diversity of viewpoints that are so critical on a university campus.”
The full settlement can be read below:
MARCH 18, 2019 5:26 PM29
Zionist Student Group Accuses UC Berkeley Middle East Center of Anti-Israel ‘Indoctrination’
by Shiri Moshe
A Zionist student group has accused the Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES) at the University of California, Berkeley, of displaying bias against Israel, raising concerns over its use of federal funding.
In an online statement on Tuesday, Tikvah: Students for Israel maintained that the Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES) — a National Resource Center under the US Department of Education’s Title VI program — has held more than two dozen Israel-related events since 2016, each one of which “has maliciously attempted to portray the democracy of Israel in a negative light.”
The group pointed to a series of recent discussions, including one earlier this month on “The Israel Lobby and Anti-Semitism,” where participants “publicly defended Ilhan Omar’s anti-semitic comments and accusations of global Jewish conspiracies,” according to Tikvah.
Despite this alleged focus on Israel, CMES refused to co-sponsor an upcoming campus talk with former Israeli Knesset member and Ambassador Danny Ayalon, Tikvah charged. “CMES is engaging in an anti-academic policy of indoctrination, and there is no room to view their one-sided hateful narrative as anything but an abuse of their platform.”
Ayalon is currently a visiting professor at Yeshiva University in New York, a position Bentolila said the students reiterated. We “filled out their speaker form, but … received no reply even after following up,” he shared.
Nathan Bentolila, president of Tikvah, told The Algemeiner that his team reached out to CMES about hosting Ayalon in early February, “and we received a reply stating that they prefer ‘academic speakers’ and that we should fill out a collaboration request form.”
When Tikvah co-hosted Harvard Law School Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz last year, “we were told that their calendar was full,” Bentolila recalled. “They will never outright say no to an event, but when there is always a disingenuous excuse and they never host events that portray Israel in a fair way, we call into question the academic honesty and integrity of the department regarding Israel.”
Tikvah members have taken part in several events hosted by CMES, “all of which had a negative undertone regarding Israel,” he said. “One of our members was told to ‘never trust information or sources originating in Israel’ when discussing the Iran Deal.”
While members did not necessarily attend every event, many of the gatherings hinted at their biases in advance through the chosen subject matter or speakers, he argued, pointing to a film series held early last year in partnership with the Arab Film Festival “on the 70th anniversary of Al-Nakba of 1948.”
The Arabic term “Nakba” — literally meaning “catastrophe” — is used by Palestinians to refer to Arab displacements and other circumstances surrounding Israel’s establishment in 1948.
“When an event titled ‘Corruption in the Middle East’ focuses entirely on corruption allegations against a democratically elected leader in Israel, you must ask yourself if the real goal of the event was to discuss actual corruption that is rampant in this region or to demonize Israel,” he added. “The CMES claims to be one of the most important academic sources regarding the Arab world, Iran, Israel and Turkey … yet they only give one perspective and are indoctrinating generations of students with a falsified image of Israel.”
CMES chair Emily Gottreich, who signed a 2009 petition advising against establishing a UC study abroad program to Israel, did not respond to The Algemeiner‘s request for comment by press time.
A spokesperson for UC Berkeley distanced the school’s administration from the allegations, saying that academic departments and research centers such asCMES are “under the authority of our faculty.”
Miriam Elman — associate professor at Syracuse University and executive director of the Academic Engagement Network, which advocates against anti-Zionist bias in academia — expressed concerns following Tikvah’s statement that CMES was failing to comply with its obligations as a National Resource Center.
“As a recipient of Title VI federal funding, the CMES @UCBerkeley is required to provide a diversity of viewpoints on the #MENA region,” Elman wrote on Twitter. “It’s obviously egregiously non-compliant.”
“Unfortunately, Berkeley’s CMES is not alone,” Elman added in comments to The Algemeiner. “A number of our nation’s 16 federally-funded Middle Eastern Studies centers are misusing tax-payer money … to promote biased anti-Israel programming.”
“Centers funded under Title VI are supposed to advance the interests of US national security and foreign relations, not create one-sided learning environments where diverse perspectives on critical issues are stifled,” she argued.
Similar reservations were expressed by Alyza Lewin, president of the Louis D. Brandeis Center For Human Rights Under Law, which has for years “been concerned with the misuse of federal funds under Title VI of the Higher Education Opportunities Act.”
“Funding is contingent upon the congressional requirement that programming must reflect ‘diverse perspectives and a wide range of views,'” Lewin told The Algemeiner. “When Middle Eastern studies centers use their federal funds to promote biased, one-sided, anti-American and anti-Israel programming and then refuse to engage in or support pro-Israel programming, they undercut the purpose of Title VI.”
Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, head of the campus antisemitism watchdog AMCHA Initiative, indicated that while she could not comment specifically on CMES, she was “not surprised” by Tikvah’s concerns, pointing to a three-year study her group conducted on the Center for Near Eastern Studies (CNES) at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
“Our research found that between 2010-2013, CNES disproportionately focused on Israel and the Israeli-Arab conflict, with 93% of events on Israel being anti-Israel, and 75% displaying anti-Semitic discourse,” she explained. “During that same period, CNES received $1.5 million from the Department of Education under Title VI.”
“This type of behavior at UCLA, and the alleged behavior at Berkeley, completely distorts the scholarly and educational mission of any department and is a violation of the Higher Education Act,” she said.