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StandWithUs Responds to Lara Sheehi's Article re: Title VI Complaint at George Washington U

StandWithUs’ filing of a Title VI complaint at George Washington University (GW) was for one primary purpose: to seek a remedy for the antisemitic climate created by Dr. Sheehi’s conduct in her mandatory diversity course at GW, as reported by her students who experienced the discrimination.

Despite her mischaracterization of StandWithUs’ motives in filing the complaint and the facts contained in it, our goal is simply to hold accountable those responsible for creating a pervasively hostile environment for Jewish students at GW, to hold Dr. Sheehi accountable for unlawful retaliatory discrimination, and to hold accountable those who knew what was happening yet failed to protect Jewish students from Professor Sheehi’s attacks. We unequivocally condemn any racism or threats of violence Dr. Sheehi may have received, just as we condemn the use of similar rhetoric to target Jewish students and professors. We believe in the First Amendment right of all persons, including professors, to engage in protected speech, even that which conveys deeply hateful views. We step in when that speech crosses the line into discriminatory conduct, as occurred at GW. One would have hoped that, when faced with this complaint, Dr. Sheehi would have paused her incessant tirade against Zionism and Israel and allowed room for her Jewish and Israeli students to define the Zionist component of their identity for themselves—and accept that identity in her mandatory diversity course, as required under the law. Indeed, had she taken that approach, the real harm she caused Jewish students by her conduct likely would not have occurred, and StandWithUs would not have needed to file a Title VI complaint. In the wake of our complaint, however, Professor Sheehi and her followers have responded with a predictable playbook: attacking StandWithUs with spurious claims and gaslighting Jewish students who are seeking help battling the antisemitism they experienced in her class at GW. As a number of psychology practitioners have recently noted in their letters of support for the Jewish students targeted by Dr. Sheehi, this situation requires an unbiased investigation and a resolution of the students’ complaints. That starts with fact-finding and listening, not lashing out and shaming. The manner in which Dr. Sheehi and others have attacked StandWithUs for supporting her victims only fans the flames of discord and division already seen in the rise of antisemitism at GW and beyond. Professor Sheehi had—and still has—an opportunity to approach this situation by showing a respectful and appropriate concern for her Jewish students, who have repeatedly attempted to communicate to her that her conduct toward them was discriminatory. Unfortunately, the shamefully vitriolic and self-justifying remarks she posted suggest no such humility will be forthcoming. Her diatribe makes it even more important that GW and the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights carry out a thorough and impartial investigation into her conduct in the classroom.

Read Dr. Lara Sheehi's article HERE.

About StandWithUs

StandWithUs (SWU) is an international, nonprofit and non-partisan Israel education organization that works to inspire and educate people of all ages about Israel, as well as challenge misinformation and fight against antisemitism.

Through university fellowships, high school internships, middle school curricula, conferences, materials, social media, educational films and missions to Israel, StandWithUs supports people around the world who want to educate their schools and communities about Israel.

Founded in 2001 and headquartered in Los Angeles, the organization has chapters and programs throughout the U.S., in Israel, the UK, Canada, South Africa, Brazil and the Netherlands.

For the last eleven years, SWU has consistently received the highest possible ratings from Charity Navigator and Guidestar, two charity watchdog groups that assess hundreds of thousands of charities in the United States.


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