George Washington University Professor Accused of Anti-Semitism Says Zionism Is a Mental Illness

Lara Sheehi says Israeli Jews have ‘violence embedded’ within them

Lara Sheehi (Twitter)
January 19, 2023

A clinical psychology professor at George Washington University teaches that Zionism is a mental illness and claims Jews commit "violence" against every Palestinian they meet.

Lara Sheehi, the professor at the center of a discrimination complaint students filed against the university, has a long history of making anti-Semitic statements in lectures, published writings, interviews, and social media posts. As an assistant professor in the school’s Professional Psychology Program, she refuses to acknowledge the existence of the state of Israel and teaches her Jewish students that their mere presence can inflict "violence."

Sheehi also accuses all Zionists of having a "settler psychosis" from which they must be "liberated" in order to interact with "indigenous" people.

"You’re a settler interacting with indigenous people, there’s violence embedded in that no matter what, no matter how good you are," Sheehi said last year in a podcast interview. "Settlers, liberate yourself from your ideology."

Sheehi did not respond to a request for comment. George Washington University referred the Washington Free Beacon to its statement last week condemning anti-Semitism and affirming academic freedom.

Jewish students reported Sheehi for discriminating against and repeatedly harassing them as part of a required diversity course she taught last fall, according to a complaint filed last week with the Department of Education.

"It’s not your fault you were born in Israel," she reportedly told one student on the first day of class.

Sheehi has declared all Israelis "fucking racist" and said she wants to "destroy Zionism" on Twitter. She has deleted her account since the Title VI complaint was filed.

Roz Rothstein, cofounder and CEO of Stand With Us, which filed the complaint, told the Washington Free Beacon that Sheehi’s "personal politics" should not "cross the line into discriminatory conduct targeting students based on their identities."

Rothstein says college administrators "too often" fail to "recognize the clear difference between a professor expressing her personal political views, which academic freedom does protect, and identity-based discriminatory and retaliatory conduct, which it absolutely does not."

Sheehi is president-elect of the Society for Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Psychology, a division of the American Psychological Association. She and her husband, Stephen Sheehi, who chairs the Middle East Studies department at the College of William & Mary, are both members of the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. They engage as professors in "explicitly political" work, which they have called "guerilla scholarship." Sheehi even boasted in an interview last year that their adversarial approach has cost them speaking engagements and jobs.

In 2014, Stephen Sheehi joined a group of scholars from around the world in signing a statement defending Hamas militants for firing rockets at Israeli civilians. He accused Israel of carrying out "collective punishment" after soldiers swept through the Gaza Strip in search of three Israeli teenage boys who were kidnapped and later murdered by Hamas.

Both professors say Palestinians live in an "apartheid" state and under a "settler-colonial" regime. The pair coauthored a book on the topic, titled Psychoanalysis Under Occupation. They describe the Jewish state as an unjust and "violent occupation," referring to it as "the state known as Israel." Stephen Sheehi has accused Israeli Jews of having a "psychotic relationship" to their homeland.

"This compelling intimacy that Zionists feel to the land in Palestine is one built on a psychosis," he said in a 2022 interview.

Lara Sheehi in September asked a radical speaker to campus who has praised acts of Palestinian terrorism and falsely said that Israel tests its missiles on Palestinian children. The talk was scheduled between the Jewish high holy days Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

The students who filed a complaint against Sheehi also noted that her coursework did not include readings on anti-Semitism.

When confronted, Sheehi retaliated against the Jewish students, accusing them of racism and initiating disciplinary proceedings against them. Administrators defended Sheehi’s conduct and maintained she had not been anti-Semitic.