(May 11, 2020 / JNS) A faculty member at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., with an anti-Israel history has been named interim dean of the university’s Elliott School of International Affairs.
Ilana Feldman, vice dean of the Elliott School and professor of anthropology, history and international affairs, will serve as the school’s interim dean while a search is underway for a permanent successor to veteran U.S. diplomat Reuben Brigety II, who was named earlier this year as vice chancellor and president of Sewanee: The University of the South in Tennessee, announced GW provost Brian Blake on Monday.
“Dr. Feldman brings to the interim dean role more than a decade of teaching and administrative experience at GW, most recently as vice dean at Elliott,” said Blake in a university statement. “As an expert in her field with close working relationships with faculty, students and staff, she is an excellent choice to serve in this role. We are excited and pleased that she will lead Elliott during this challenging time.”
Feldman, however, has a record of delegitimizing the Jewish state as an activist in the anti-Israel BDS movement with some of her academic work glossing over Palestinian terrorism.
In 2014, she signed a letter condemning Israel’s defensive actions in Gaza in response to Hamas launching rocket attacks from there into Israel, calling it “the wholesale slaughter of a civilian population.”
She is a member of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) and was part of a group that in 2016 unsuccessfully called for an AAA boycott of Israeli academic institutions.
In a March 2016 webinar, Feldman said, “Questions about ‘why boycott Israel and not North Korea or China?’ seem to entirely miss the point that boycott is a political act and not just a statement of position. In voting for boycott, we have the opportunity to join a movement that is already strong and getting stronger.”
In a statement posted on Facebook, the student organization GW for Israel objected to Feldman’s appointment “to the highest degree.”
The group said that “as a fervent supporter” of BDS, Feldman “isolates Israeli students in the ESIA as well as the hundreds of students who support a Jewish State of Israel. GW for Israel supports a two-state solution where both Israelis and Palestinians can live in prosperity alongside each other.”
“The BDS movement does not support a two-state solution, seeks to exclude Israel and the Israeli people from the academic, economic and cultural life from the rest of the world, and undermines direct peace negotiations between the two parties.”
While GW for Israel acknowledged “the importance of having an array of viewpoints and opinions within the faculty and administration at GW in order to provide students with the most well-rounded, educated frames of reference,” the group expressed that “the outwardly anti-Israel sentiment Professor Feldman has repeatedly demonstrated will prevent from doing so while simultaneously targeting Israeli and Jewish students who have already faced harsh discrimination and hatred.”
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