When Hate-Filled Anti-Israel Propaganda Becomes a Required Psychology Course

April 14 2023

For Jewish graduate students taking a clinical psychology course at
George Washington University—the first of three in a required “diversity sequence”—it didn’t take long to realize that the instructor, Lara Sheehi, had no intention of keeping her obsessive hatred of Israel out of the classroom, even though Middle East politics had no bearing on the class’s ostensible subject matter. The students raised their concerns with the university and, when administrators proved unsympathetic, filed a formal Title VI complaint. Cary Nelson provides a detailed analysis:

By mid-November, the Jewish students learned that Sheehi had been disparaging them in faculty groups. . . . This escalated to an allegation that the students were racist. The result was that the students were subjected to disciplinary proceedings. Then matters became Orwellian. As the complaint specifies, “rather than provide the students with a statement of their offense, faculty have instead asked the students to describe to the faculty what they did wrong and what harm they caused.” This amounted to a forced confession, one with a built-in threat that they could be judged unsuitable to become therapists if they did not cooperate.

Sheehi’s antipathy toward the Jewish state permeates not only her teaching but also her academic work and social-media accounts. Turning to the former, and in particular the book Sheehi coauthored with her husband, Nelson demonstrates “the therapeutic perils of combining anti-Zionism with a social-justice agenda.”

There is a fundamental—and likely unresolvable—contradiction built into this agenda. The Sheehis’ political convictions lead them to see all Israelis, whatever their job titles, as undifferentiated, interchangeable agents of the occupation. In [one paper], she properly condemns the belief system that “collapses Islam into a monolithic entity with an essential potentiality for violence,” but she embraces that very prejudice regarding Israelis. The pressures psychoanalysis might exert toward individuation have no impact there. Similarly, both as victims of Israeli oppression and as avatars of “resistance,” Palestinians become interchangeable in [the Sheehis’] eyes.

[As a solution, the Sheehis] offer violence, not so much as a means to an end, even as a way to compel negotiation, but rather as the only valid form of Palestinian self-expression, one that traditional psychoanalysis aims to suppress. It begins with their effort to valorize suicide, a form of Palestinian violence against the self that they endorse. It is an extraordinary stand for clinicians to take.

Read more at Fathom

More about: Academia, Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, Psychoanalysis


Why President Biden Needs Prime Minister Netanyahu as Much as Netanyahu Needs Biden

Sept. 28 2023

Last Wednesday, Joe Biden and Benjamin Netanyahu met for the first time since the former’s inauguration. Since then, Haim Katz, Israel’s tourism minister, became the first Israeli cabinet member to visit Saudi Arabia publicly, and Washington announced that it will include the Jewish state in its visa-waiver program. Richard Kemp, writing shortly after last week’s meeting, comments:

Finally, a full nine months into Benjamin Netanyahu’s latest government, President Joe Biden deigned to allow him into his presence. Historically, American presidents have invited newly installed Israeli prime ministers to the White House shortly after taking office. Even this meeting on Wednesday, however, was not in Washington but in New York, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

Such pointed lack of respect is not the way to treat one of America’s most valuable allies, and perhaps the staunchest of them all. It is all about petty political point-scoring and interfering in Israel’s internal democratic processes. But despite his short-sighted rebuke to the state of Israel and its prime minister, Biden actually needs at least as much from Netanyahu as Netanyahu needs from him. With the 2024 election looming, Biden is desperate for a foreign-policy success among a sea of abject failures.

In his meeting with Netanyahu, Biden no doubt played the Palestinian issue up as some kind of Saudi red line and the White House has probably been pushing [Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman] in that direction. But while the Saudis would no doubt want some kind of pro-forma undertaking by Israel for the sake of appearances, [a nuclear program and military support] are what they really want. The Saudis’ under-the-table backing for the original Abraham Accords in the face of stiff Palestinian rejection shows us where its priorities lie.

Israel remains alone in countering Iran’s nuclear threat, albeit with Saudi and other Arab countries cheering behind the scenes. This meeting won’t have changed that. We must hope, however, that Netanyahu has been able to persuade Biden of the electoral benefit to him of settling for a historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia rather than holding out for the unobtainable jackpot of a two-state solution.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship