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Pro-Israel group fails to have BDS supporting professor removed

A pro-Israel American campus group has failed in its bid to have a professor removed from the position of interim dean of a department at the George Washington University because of her support for the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.

Professor Ilana Feldman was targeted by GW for Israel following her appointment as the interim dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs, a prestigious private Washington, DC university’s training school for diplomats and other foreign policy specialists.

GW for Israel launched a petition demanding the removal of Feldman from the post citing her support for BDS. “Dr. Feldman is a fervent supporter of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement and has a record of minimizing terrorism, delegitimizing the State of Israel, and advocating to suspend academic ties with Israeli institutions,” said the petition.

Feldman is a member of the American Anthropological Association. In 2015 she led a campaign in which professors of anthropology voted overwhelmingly in favour of a resolution calling on the group to boycott Israeli academic institutions by a 1,040 to 136 margin at the association’s annual business meeting.

Last year, she published a book on Palestinian refugees titled: “Life Lived in Relief — Humanitarian Predicaments and Palestinian Refugee Politics”. It was shortlisted for the 2019 Palestine Book Awards.

Despite the protest from GW for Israel, George Washington University stood by its decision.

“Dr. Ilana Feldman has been an active faculty member at the Elliott School of International Affairs since 2007,” the University’s provost, Brian Blake, said last week in an email to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “As vice dean, Dr. Feldman has demonstrated her leadership ability and her respect for and commitment to all students, faculty and staff of the Elliott School community.

Dr. Feldman’s appointment as interim dean was made based on strong support within the Elliott School, including from the current dean, the Dean’s Council, as well as a number of faculty.”

Feldman is the most recent academic to face the wrath of the pro-Israeli groups. In January JB Brager, a teacher at an elite New York City prep school, was fired for expressing remarks critical of Israel.