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GWU pro-Israel group starts petition to oust pro-BDS interim dean

Appointed person ‘has worked to hinder international dialogue and exchange’

A pro-Israel student group at George Washington University has started a petition asking the school to “reconsider” its appointment of a professor who supports the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement as interim dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs.

According to the GW for Israel petition, anthropology and history professor Ilana Feldman, one of the eight-member Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions, is a “fervent supporter” of the BDS movement, and “has a record of minimizing terrorism [and] delegitimizing the State of Israel.”

Canary Mission, which compiles dossiers on anti-Israel scholars and student activists, claims Feldman’s academic work “demonized Israel and camouflaged the detrimental effect of Palestinian terrorist groups on Palestinians and Israelis.”

“We find it highly problematic that the university selected an individual who has worked to hinder international dialogue and exchange to head ESIA,” the petition reads. “Boycotts subvert scholarly and educational opportunities and curtail the academic freedom of students and faculty members to engage in research about or in Israel.”

The petition has more than 1,500 signatures as of Friday 5:30 p.m.

On its Facebook page, GW for Israel said that “after a difficult school year plagued by multiple antisemitic and anti-Israel events” on campus, it was “beyond disappointed” with the selection of Feldman as dean.

GWU spokeswoman Crystal Nosal told The GW Hatchet that Feldman was chosen because of “strong support” from those in the Elliott School, including the person she is replacing, Reuben Brigety. Nosal added that the professor has “respect […] and commitment to all students, faculty and staff in the school.”

Brigety has been a controversial figure himself. He called President Trump a “Nazi sympathizer” and suggested he wouldn’t help Elliott School students get internships in the Trump administration. The outgoing dean also imposed gender quotas on conference panels but walked back that directive following internal criticism that he was elevating gender politics over expertise.

Read the petition.

MORE: GWU appoints anti-Israel professor as interim dean

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