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Betsy DeVos. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

The Education Department told Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to restructure their joint Middle East studies program, claiming there was not enough “positive imagery of Judaism and Christianity in the region," the New York Times reports.

The state of play: In a letter assistant Secretary for postsecondary education Robert King wrote that the Duke-UNC program "appears to lack balance," alleging that it failed to abide by the standards of Title VI of the Higher Education Act, which grants college funding for international studies and foreign language programs.

The big picture: The Education Department's probe was, per the Times, part of a sweeping investigation. Under Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, the department has grown more forceful in tackling perceived anti-Israel bias.

  • Kenneth Marcus, assistant secretary for civil rights at the Department of Education, has, per the Times, "waged a yearslong campaign to delegitimize and defund Middle East studies programs that he has criticized as rife with anti-Israel bias."

What's next: The universities have been asked to submit a modified list of events it intends to support and a full list of course offerings in its Middle East studies program.

  • The department also requested the consortium to show it has “effective institutional controls” to comply with the administration’s interpretation of the Higher Education Act. The consortium has a Sept. 22 deadline before the department is expected to approve funding Sept. 30.

Go deeper: Report: The political left and the right feed "the new wave of anti-Semitism"

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
37 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Axios AM Deep Dive: America’s murder surge

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

Homicides rose at the fastest rate in at least six decades last year. This Axios AM Deep Dive, led by Future correspondent Bryan Walsh, looks at the state of gun crime.

5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Senate Democrats target billionaires

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

After failing to get a deal on other planned tax increases, key Senate Democrats are pivoting to a billionaires' income tax to pay for President Biden's social spending.

The big picture: No advanced economy has attempted anything similar on such a scale.

Anti-abortion activists' Supreme Court dreams are coming true

Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela. Photos: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

This is the moment the conservative legal movement has been building toward for decades: The solidly conservative Supreme Court is about to hear two major abortion cases within a month of each other.

Why it matters: All of this is likely to end with significant new restrictions on abortion and a clear path for Republican-led states to win the next big abortion cases, too — the culmination of a long and bitter fight for control of the judiciary.

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