Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS) consistently ranks among the best universities for students of international relations. As a training ground for future American diplomats and policymakers, its influence on U.S. foreign affairs is undeniable. It’s also unnerving, in light of the support shown for Hamas by student-run SFS organizations following the October 7 massacre of 1,200 Israelis and the taking of 240 hostages. The SFS’s pro-Hamas students, along with the recent attention-grabbing conduct of the school’s alumni, suggest that a closer examination of the university’s troubling campus culture is in order.
Since the October 7 attack, and as recently as last week, multiple reports suggest discontent within the State Department from progressive staffers who cannot bear the thought of the Biden administration’s standing with Israel against the genocidal threat it faces in the Gaza Strip. “There’s basically a mutiny brewing within State at all levels,” one State Department official told the Huffington Post.
As it happens, two of the most high-profile dissenters in State are SFS alumni. One is Josh Paul (graduate class of ’02), the former director of the State Department’s arms transfer bureau who publicly resigned on October 18. In a Washington Post op-ed published post-resignation, he wrote that, in his ten years at State, he “was involved in many complex and morally challenging debates over what weapons to send where.” Oddly enough, none of America’s arms transfers to countries with poor human rights records bothered him enough to quit—not when the U.S. sold $450 million worth of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, and not when it approved a $1 billion arms sale to Qatar, a key financial backer of Hamas.
The other notable SFS alum and State Department activist is Sylvia Yacoub (class of ’23), a foreign affairs officer in the Bureau of Middle East Affairs. In early November, media outlets reported that Yacoub, who accused President Biden of complicity in “genocide” on social media, had organized a dissent cable with colleagues that denounced the administration.
The actions of Paul and Yacoub, along with those of SFS’s pro-Hamas student groups, points to a deep rot in the school’s educational environment. Their actions are hardly shocking, though, once one examines the SFS’s curriculum, faculty viewpoints, and campus activities. This includes Georgetown’s growing love affair with Marxist thinker Frantz Fanon’s narrative of “decolonization,” which numerous activists and academics have cited to justify the Hamas attack.
SFS’s ideological stance is evident in various academic offerings. For example, as part of its effort to emphasize “Anti-Racism in the Curriculum,” the school offers a course called “Decolonizing Global Health.” SFS also launched an Inclusionary International Development Series with the aim of “decolonizing the study and practice of international development.”
SFS houses the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security, which publishes articles with titles like “Decolonization is not a Metaphor.” SFS’s Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, meantime, publishes articles titled “Martial Indigeneity: Deconstructing ‘Decolonization’ in International Relations.”
Of course, decolonization’s pseudo-intellectualism and anti-Israelism would not go viral without radical academics to indoctrinate students. For instance, associate SFS professor Jonathan Brown posted on social media in November that “Israel has been engaged in a genocidal project for decades.” Brown is the son-in-law of Sami Al-Arian, a former University of South Florida professor deported for fundraising on behalf of the U.S.-designated terror group Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Al-Arian himself was a guest speaker at an event on SFS’s Qatar campus, where his son Abdullah is an associate professor. Abdullah, it’s worth noting, argued this month that Israel doesn’t have the right to self-defense against Palestinian terrorism because it engages in “settler colonialism.”
With faculty like these—and there are many more—it’s no wonder that Georgetown’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) organized an event on October 12 that displayed signs with the message “glory to our martyrs,” in reference to Hamas terrorists. On October 26, SJP led a student walkout “to demand accountability from university administration for its silence on Israel’s crimes against humanity in Palestine.” Similarly, the editorial board of the Georgetown student newspaper (falsely) accused Israel of apartheid, genocide, and ethnic cleansing.
This perspective was further echoed in a letter endorsed by 11 Georgetown student groups in defense of the massacre. The letter declared, “At a university where the concept of ‘decolonization’ is frequently studied and used in academic discourse, it is fundamental to affirm its praxis. Decolonization entails the struggle for liberation of a colonized people from the grasp of their colonizers.” It’s worth noting that Yacoub, the State Department staffer who organized the dissent cable, wrote her thesis paper about colonialism and its role in international relations.
Given the prominent role that SFS plays in shaping the minds of future diplomats and policy influencers, Georgetown’s approach to these topics has far-reaching consequences, affecting not just the Ivory Tower but the very fabric of American diplomacy and global engagement.
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