Bill in Congress Targets Teachers Who Dare To Question US Support For Israel
By Michael Collins Piper
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.
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
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 allied.
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
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."
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
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 are:
* 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 of Israel.
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" measure.
Juan Cole of the History News Network responds to this extraordinary twist on
reality saying that the claim of "anti-Americanism" is intellectually
"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.
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 pro-Israel."
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
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.
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 this measure.
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
And believe it or not, the one senator who may be able to stop it is Edward
M. (Ted) Kennedy of Massachusetts.