By Sarah N. Stern/JNS.org
Congress will soon re-authorize Title VI of the Higher Educational Opportunities Act, a bill that was first introduced as the National Defense Education Act of 1958. The original legislative intent was to cultivate a consortium of university graduates who were best equipped to deal with the Soviet threat during the Cold War.
It was at a time when people in Washington began to notice how woefully ignorant American students were about foreign languages and cultures, so they crafted legislation that created regional studies departments—African Studies, Asian Studies, Latin Studies and Middle Eastern Studies—to educate our nation’s youngsters to equip them with the necessary tools to best deal with our adversaries.
But somehow, through the years, the original legislative intent of these programs has been turned on its head. Today, the U.S. government pours $65.1 million annually into various regional studies centers run by staffers who overwhelmingly possess strong anti-American and anti-Western biases that they are communicating to their students.
Even more pernicious is that in order to receive the grant, college professors must conduct workshops for librarians and for teachers of kindergarten through 12th grade. A study of the educational materials used in these teacher training workshops amounts to nothing more than “trickle down propaganda.”
The Middle Eastern Studies programs widely use a supplementary curriculum guide by Audrey Shabbas, called “The Arab World Studies Notebook”—a joint publication by the Middle East Policy Council, which receives its funding directly from Saudi Arabia, and the Arab World and Islamic Resources and School Services, which is bankrolled by Saudi Aramco, the oil conglomerate.
When leafing through “The Arab World Studies Notebook,” one can easily find instructions on what the Quran teaches, including a lesson on the Quran’s commandments, descriptions of the five pillars of the Muslim faith, glorifications of Muhammad, instructions on how to turn a classroom into a mosque and suggestions to “make a field trip” to such a place of worship. (One wonders if the ACLU would have long ago intervened if a Christian or Jewish teacher’s guide offered such blatant religious instructions.)
In the section on “Palestine,” complete untruths are told that are presented as though they are unassailable facts. For example, the material claims that “the Jews wanted to drive out all the Arabs.” And just in case one is not determined to intellectually accept the anti-Israel bias, the student is reached emotionally through the poetry of Mahmoud Darwish.
Darwish’s poems, including “Identity Card,” are as one-sided as they are emotionally galvanizing, such as:
I am an Arab
You have stolen the orchards of my ancestors
And the land which I cultivated
Along with my children
And you left nothing for us
Except for these rocks.
So will the State take them
As has been said?!
Saudi Arabia is not the only Islamic nation that is finding, or rather funding, its way into the minds of America’s youngest, most vulnerable, most impressionable children. In August, The Wall Street Journal reported that Qatar—a state which has long provided funding and logistical support for Al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, the al-Nusra Front and the Taliban—has been providing $30.6 million directly to school districts from New York to Oregon.
One has to wonder why the Muslim world, with a startling illiteracy rate of nearly 40 percent, has such an avid interest in the education of American youngsters.
Even though the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), the organization that I founded, had worked in 2008 to amend Title VI of the Higher Educational Opportunities Act to “provide a diversity of perspectives,” any review of the writings of the professors of the Middle East programs demonstrates a profound anti-American and anti-Israeli bias.
Take for example a Nov. 14 Facebook post by Hamid Dabashi, the Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University’s Middle Eastern Studies Program. Posted under a photo of Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump and Prince Mohammed bin Salman, it reads, “There is a reason why a small gang of European Zionists could land in Palestine and in broad daylight of history steal it under the feet of Palestinians.” Dabashi continued, “Like a rich brat teenager…[Salman] hides behind the wing of his Israeli and American protectors and benefactors, buys them with his windblown wealth, so that Jared Kushner’s Zionist kins can kill and rob Palestinians even more as they enable him to slaughter Yemeni women and children apace.”
It is simply appalling that our taxpayers’ dollars are helping to fund a professor with such blatant biases. This policy must end. Beyond that, no foreign government should be paying their way into the precious minds of our American students—either directly as Qatar does, or indirectly through Title VI of the Higher Educational Opportunities Act.
As long as our American youngsters receive this poisonous propaganda as a paltry substitute for a solid education of the region, we will never learn to acknowledge and appreciate the extremist ideology of radical Islam that is trying to defeat us. Our enemy has never relented in pursuit of its hegemonic aspirations, and we will be, once again, caught off guard.
Sarah N. Stern is founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), which describes itself as an unabashedly pro-Israel and pro-American think tank and policy institute in Washington, D.C.