J Street U supports, GW Hillel questions new interim Elliott School leader in statements

J Street U at GW and GW Hillel released statements Wednesday taking differing stances on Ilana Feldman’s appointment as the interim dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs.

GW Hillel’s post states that Feldman’s support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement – a nonviolent cause aiming for Israel to stop occupying Palestinian territories – “greatly concerns us.” J Street U’s post writes that while it does not endorse the BDS movement, members support Feldman’s appointment in light of the “necessity” of open dialogue and freedom of opinion.

Members of GW Hillel are “engaging in conversations” with the organization’s academic partners about the appointment, the post states.

“We strongly believe that BDS demonizes Israel,” GW Hillel’s post states. “The movement robs all students of the opportunity to learn from leading scholars and research, gain knowledge and benefit from Israeli innovations and institutions.”

The post adds that its members hope University President Thomas LeBlanc and other officials “continue to reject” the BDS movement.

J Street U’s post states that the organization does not support the BDS movement but recognizes Feldman’s opinions are “derived from years of academic work.” Diversity of thought helps curate “better dialogue” among students and faculty, the statement reads.

“The political tool of smothering opposition, particularly in the Israel/Palestine debate on college campuses, has often been used against marginalized communities,” the post states. “As progressive students, we will not stand for this.”

Feldman was named the interim Elliott School dean Monday and is slated to helm the school by the end of the month. GW for Israel released a statement the day of the announcement condemning her appointment and launched a petition Tuesday urging officials to reconsider their choice.

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