Furor Over Mid-East Studies Program at UNC & Duke U; Feds May Pull Grant - The Jewish Voice
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Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Furor Over Mid-East Studies Program at UNC & Duke U; Feds May Pull Grant

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By: Daniel Prescott

In an effort to cleanse campuses of antisemitism, the Trump administration is considering taking away monies for a Middle East studies program being offered by the University of North Carolina and Duke University, according to published reports.

The reason? The program may be misusing the federal money to promote the “the positive aspects of Islam” while ignoring Christianity and Judaism.

The program has been getting funding for almost 10 years via a program set up by the government designed to teach students what they need to know about diplomacy and security. Last year, it was reportedly handed $235,000.

“The Education Department reviewed the program as part of a broader effort to root out anti-Semitism in universities, following a complaint from Rep. George Holding (R-N.C.) about a taxpayer-funded conference with “severe anti-Israeli bias and anti-Semitic rhetoric.” The conference, titled “Conflict Over Gaza: People, Politics and Possibilities,” included a rapper who performed a “brazenly anti-Semitic song,” Holding said in an April 15 letter,” the New York Post reported.

“The probe found that the North Carolina program planned to use federal money on programs that are “plainly unqualified for taxpayer support,” and said in an Aug. 29 letter to the schools that foreign language and national security instruction have “taken a back seat to other priorities.” The letter said the program would be defunded if it wasn’t revised by Sept. 22,” the Post added.

The web site dailytarheel.com reported that the U.S. Department of Education “directed UNC and Duke University to revise their joint Consortium for Middle Eastern Studies in order to continue receiving federal funding from Title VI, according to a letter sent to UNC Vice Chancellor for Research Terry Magnuson, dated Aug. 29 and published Tuesday.”

The consortium, the Department said, “appears to lack balance by placing a positive emphasis on Islam and not other religions, such as Christianity or Judaism. Additionally, the Department said UNC-Duke CMES activities supported by Title VI funds may be unauthorized.

“The Consortium deeply values its partnership with the Department of Education and has always been strongly committed to complying with the purposes and requirements of the Title VI program,” a UNC spokesperson said in a statement. “In keeping with the spirit of this partnership, the Consortium is committed to working with the Department to provide more information about its programs,” the web site noted.

The investigators “specifically slammed certain course offerings and conferences as not beneficial to “US national security and economic stability,” according to businessinsider.com. “Although a conference focused on ‘Love and Desire in Modern Iran’ and one focused on Middle East film criticism may be relevant in academia, we do not see how these activities support the development of foreign language and international expertise for the benefit of US national security and economic stability,” the letter said.”

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