GWU declines to punish prof who reportedly called all Israelis ‘f*cking racist’
A GWU professor was the subject of a federal discrimination complaint following student claims of anti-Semitism.
The professor allegedly berated a student for the student's Israeli nationality and invited a speaker who endorsed using violence against Israelis.
Following a third-party probe, George Washington University (GWU) has declined to sanction Lara Sheehi, a professor accused by numerous students of engaging in anti-Semitic behavior.
According to a complaint filed on Jan. 9 with the Department of Education by Stand With Us, a nonprofit dedicated to combating anti-Semitism, Sheehi singled out and berated an Israeli student on the first day of the mandatory diversity course she teaches.
According to the complaint, students were asked to introduce themselves and their identities at their first class meeting, with their identities then being “validated” by Sheehi. When a student mentioned their Israeli nationality, instead of validating them, the professor reportedly said “it’s not your fault you were born in Israel,” which Stand With Us says “[implies] the student’s Israeli national identity is something of which she should be ashamed.”
The event that Jewish students seemed most disturbed by was Sheehi’s decision to invite Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, a Brown University professor, to hold a guest lecture. At the lecture, Shalhoub-Kevorkian allegedly endorsed violence against the state of Israel and praised a Palestinian teenager who stabbed an Israeli security guard and a 13-year-old Jewish boy outside of a candy shop.
Jewish students reported worsened mental health in the days after the lecture.
Sheehi reportedly minimized the concerns of Jewish students during a discussion about the event in a subsequent class, defending the content of the guest lecture. According to her, she and her guest lecturer had engaged in Anti-Zionism, which is distinct from anti-Semitism.
Outside of these specific incidents, Sheehi has a history of making statements that some characterize as anti-Semitic. In the past, according to The Washington Free Beacon, she has claimed that Jews commit “violence“ whenever they interact with a Palestinian, called every Israeli “f*cking racist,” and accused Zionists of having “settler psychosis.”
The above was not sufficient for GWU to reprimand the professor for discrimination. The university stated that there was “no evidence” that she violated university policy, reports The New York Post.
A petition was signed by hundreds of academics and professionals calling for Sheehi to be removed for her alleged anti-Semitism.
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, who represented Sheehi, released a statement following her being cleared by GWU.
“These findings send a resounding message,” the statement reads. “[P]ro-Israeli smear campaigns and tactics targeting academics who advocate for Palestinian rights are baseless and primarily meant to intimidate, harass and silence.”
A spokesperson for Stand With Us informed Campus Reform that the Department of Education is still evaluating their complaint as to whether Sheehi violated anti-discrimination laws. Responding to GWU’s decision to clear Sheehi, the spokesperson referred Campus Reform to a statement released by Roz Rothstein, co-founder and CEO of the organization.
The statement criticized GWU for not publicly releasing their investigation materials and for not taking student concerns seriously enough.
George Washington University, the ADC. and Sheehi have been reached for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.