A civil rights organization working to stop anti-Arab discrimination is defending a professor who a Jewish and pro-Israel advocacy group accused of antisemitism earlier this month, according to a press release Tuesday.
The Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee agreed to represent Lara Sheehi, an assistant professor of clinical psychology who StandWithUs filed a Title VI complaint against in the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, accusing her of being antisemitic toward Jewish and Israeli students in her graduate-level Diversity I course. ADC alleges that StandWithUs “wrongfully accused” Sheehi of antisemitism and that the organization harbors anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian sentiments.
“As in other campaigns, StandWithUs has targeted Dr. Sheehi by mobilizing their allies in the right-wing media and other pro-Israel organizations with the explicit intent to threaten her safety, well-being, professional reputation and livelihood,” the press release states.
StandWithUs’ complaint alleges that GW faculty members and administrators brought “disciplinary proceedings” against students in Sheehi’s course who voiced concerns about Sheehi’s “hostile” conduct. The students also said the course’s guest speaker and three of the course readings on the Israel-Palestine conflict portrayed Israel and Jewish people negatively “within the greater context of antisemitism in the class.”
“ADC is proud to represent Dr. Lara Sheehi, an internationally recognized clinician, scholar, activist and beloved professor whose Arab identity and work on mental health in Palestine have led her to be unjustly persecuted by those who seek to censor and harass scholars and supporters of justice,” ADC’s press release states.
ADC’s press release states that the University set a “chilling precedent” by planning to launch a third-party investigation of StandWithUs’ claims after officials allegedly cleared Sheehi of the students’ accusations through “internal processes” in the fall 2022 semester. ADC communicated their concerns with officials’ handling of the Title VI complaint against Sheehi, according to the press release.
“We are confident that when all information is made public, the intent behind this politically motivated harassment campaign against Dr. Sheehi will be evident,” the press release states.
Students for Justice in Palestine posted a now-expired Instagram story, expressing support for ADC’s defense of Sheehi.
“We proudly stand in support of Palestinian faculty at this school wrongfully accused by Zionists,” the Instagram story stated.
This article appeared in the January 26, 2023 issue of the Hatchet.