TO MONITOR PRO-ARAB BIAS REJECTED
Ori Nir, Forward, 11/25/05
WASHINGTON - Members of the
U.S. Commission on Civil Rights rejected calls
from Jewish organizations last week for federal oversight of
government-funded Middle Eastern studies programs at American
At a November 18 hearing devoted to the issue of antisemitism on
campuses, the commission heard from three representatives of the Jewish
community who argued that many Middle Eastern programs are biased
Israel. They sought the commission's support for legislation that would
restrict Middle Eastern studies programs receiving federal funding.
The main proposal, which Jewish groups have been lobbying Congress to
into law, would be the establishment of an "advisory board" to monitor
Middle Eastern studies departments and report to the Department of
on whether these departments are balanced in their teaching of regional
affairs. The advisory board would include political appointees.
Citing academic freedom, universities strongly oppose the proposal.
At last week's hearing, members of the civil rights commission made it
that they do not see any role for government in the classroom.
members were not even willing to endorse the position that a university
ought to have a "balanced" curriculum in such departments.
"I am extremely nervous about the idea of administrative oversight on
university campuses," said Abigail Thernstrom, the commission's vice
who moderated the hearing.
"You really don't want university administrators walking into
deciding whether what the professors are teaching is acceptable or
unacceptable," she said. Her comments were echoed by other members of