Israeli Lobby Slips Anti-Free Speech Bill Through House of Representatives

From the archive (legacy material)

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 virtual 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.” In short, they were saying AFP lied.
Now the truth has come out. On September 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 of Representatives on October 21. The chief sponsor of the legislation was Rep. Peter Hoekstra, a conservative Republican from
This 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 “elite” forces of the powerful Israeli lobby in official Washington.
There are absolutely no grass-roots organizations supporting this measure whatsoever. Instead, leading the push for Senate approval of the House-originated bill, are the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of B’nai B’rith, the American Jewish Congress, and the American Jewish Committee. Also lending its support is Empower America, the neo-conservative front group established by longtime pro-Israel publicist 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 innocuously worded and quite bureaucratic in its tone, decipherable only to those with the capacity to wade through legislative linguistics, but essentially 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 of Israel.
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.” In other words, it would be another federal “blue ribbon” panel akin to the Warren Commission that ostensibly investigated the JFK assassination and the now highly-suspect federal commission looking into the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
Gilbert Merkx, vice provost for international affairs and development and director of the Centre for International Studies at Duke University has echoed the fears of many when he charged that this so-called advisory board “could easily be hijacked by those who have a political axe to grind and become a vehicle for an inquisition.”
In fact, the primary individuals promoting this effort to control intellectual debate on the college campuses are known for having a political axe to grind: they are all prominent and outspoken supporters of Israel and harsh critics of the Arab and Muslim worlds. They are:
1) Martin Kramer, a professor of Arab studies at The Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University in Israel;
2) 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 3). Daniel Pipes, founder of the pro-Israel Middle East Institute 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.
Hiding behind the banner of defending America, these three-along with the Israeli lobby affiliates promoting H.R. 3077-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 when it is anything but that. Juan Cole of the History News Network responds to this extraordinary twist on reality saying that the claim of “anti-Americanism” is intellectually dishonest. “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 opposition-is a contravention of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.” The promoters are also suggesting that this legislation would-in the words of the American Jewish Committee-“enhance intellectual freedom on campus by enabling diverse viewpoints to be heard,” when, of course, the legislation would do precisely the opposite.
Lisa Anderson of the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs says in response that “this plan . . . is not about diversity, or even about the truth.” Unfortunately, she doesn’t choose to tackle the Israeli lobby head on. Instead, she targets her ire at the Republican conservatives 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 unsufficiently patriotic, or perhaps simply unsufficiently conservative.” What she should be saying is that these Republicans who are carrying water for Israel are concerned that universities are “unsufficiently pro-Israel.”
The Republican House members who originally joined Hoekstra in co-sponsoring this dangerous 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)
Joe Wilson (South Carolina)
However, don’t try to find out how your representative voted when the bill came before the full House. Hoekstra asked for a suspension of the House rules-which was approved-and made it possible for this controversial measure to be passed with an un-recorded “voice vote” wherein there is no record of how individual House members voted, or if they even voted at all.
In fact, the measure passed by the House is precisely the very same type of proposed “ideological diversity” legislation that AFP first warned about, although, 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.).
What happened was that AFP’s initial report on the legislation gained so much widespread circulation in e-mails being sent out nationwide among 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.
However, Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) picked up their torch and introduced H.R. 3077 in the House, containing precisely the language that his Senate colleagues had intended to introduce until AFP blew the whistle. To their credit, virtually every major American education
organization-including even 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. And 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 tracks is for enough grass-roots citizens to rise up and demand that H.R. 3077 be put to rest. And believe it or not, the one senator who may be able to stop it is Edward M. (Ted) Kennedy of Massachusetts.
Contact Senate Members. Urge that H.R. 3077 be shelved.
The Israeli lobby’s pet project, H.R. 3077, innocuously named as The International Studies in Higher Education Act of 2003–and popularly known as “Title 6”–is now before the Senate’s Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
This committee is controlled by the Republican majority who are likely to support the bill, but the ranking minority member is powerful Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) who has been-perhaps to the surprise of many, including even AFP readers–an outspoken critic of Daniel Pipes, one of the leading proponents of H.R. 3077.
Although it is not well known, Kennedy’s second wife is an Arab-American and he has become quite attune to Arab-bashing of the type that Pipes engages in. As such–despite what one may think of Kennedy’s views on other issues–he is seen as a possible roadblock in the way of final approval by the Senate committee of H.R. 3077.
For this reason, AFP recommends that those who want to work for the defeat of this Israeli measure contact the offices of the following senators–all of whom are Democrats with the exception of independent James Jeffords of Vermont–and urge them to oppose H.R. 3077.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Be very precise in your language. Simply tell the senators to oppose H.R. 3077–that it is an infringement upon the First Amendment and a threat to academic freedom in America. Do not lecture the senators about the power of the Israeli lobby or give them the
“facts” that have been reported in AFP. Rest assured that the senators are well versed in the realities of the situation. Simply give them the opportunity to say publicly that they have received a flood of calls, letters and e-mails urging them to oppose H.R. 3077.
The list of senators is as follows:
Edward M. Kennedy (Mass.)
TEL (202) 224-4543
FAX (202) 224-2417
Christopher J. Dodd (Conn.)
TEL (202) 224-2823
FAX (202) 224-1083
Tom Harkin (Iowa)
TEL (202) 224-3254
FAX (202) 224-9369
Jeff Bingaman (New Mexico)
TEL (202) 224-5521
FAX (202) 224-2852
Patty Murray (Washington)
TEL (202) 224-2621
FAX (202) 224-0238
John F. Reed (Rhode Island)
TEL 202) 224-4642
FAX (202) 224-4680
James M. Jeffords (Vermont)
TEL (202) 224-5141
FAX (202) 228-0776