NEW YORK (Aug. 5)
The Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies, which invites academicians, government leaders and business magnates to seminars on public affairs, has rejected the remainder of its annual grant for this year from the East-West Foundation, charging that the Foundation has tried to inject anti-Israel bias into the funding of the Aspen’s Middle East studies program. The East-West Foundation was established by the Fluor Corporation of Irvine, Calif. The firm, a construction and engineering consortium, has contracts with Saudi Arabia said to run into the billions of dollars.
The Foundation’s annual grant of $600,000 accounts for about 80 percent of the Aspen Institute’s financing for its Mideast program. Last month the Institute’s board of trustees, headed by Robert Anderson, chairman of the Atlantic Richfield Company adopted a resolution declaring the independence of its academic programs and sent a copy to John Fluor, chairman of the Fluor Corp., who is also the board chairman of the East-West Foundation. According to Aspen officials, Fluor refused to accept it.
“Nobody is going to dictate to Aspen who shall come and where we have our meetings, Stephen Strickland, Aspen’s vice president, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency at that time.
According Aspen officials, the Foundation had th### to cancel its grant unless Aspen withdrew an invitation to Israelis to participate in a seminar about the Arab world. Menachem Milson, a professor of Arab literature at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, had been invited to participate in a seminar on “The Arab World In Transition” being conducted by the Institute’s Middle East Center. The Aspen Institute cancelled its invitation after being informed by the State Department that Milson a reserve officer in the Israeli army, had served as an aide to the Military Governor of occupied territories in 1977.
The East-West Foundation, headquartered in Santa Barbara, Calif is a non-profit, tax-exempt group. In cancelling its grant, the Foundation charged last week that Aspen was politicizing what was billed as a cultural, economic and historical program.