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The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

SFS Criticized for ‘Decolonization’ Culture, Accused of Anti-Israelism in Article

A magazine columnist criticized Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service (SFS) for ostensibly perpetuating anti-Israelism and false narratives about the Oct. 7 Hamas Attack in a Nov. 21 article in right-wing magazine City Journal.

The author, Eitan Fischberger, a Middle East analyst who has contributed to other conservative publications such as National Review, accused the SFS of using the concept of decolonization to fuel these ideologies in its student activities, faculty works and curriculum. City Journal is a policy magazine published by the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, a conservative think tank that focuses on domestic and urban politics.

Fischberger accused SFS student organizations on campus of being pro-Hamas, arguing the schools ‘decolonization’ culture led to anti-Israel activities and permeated throughout published works and articles along with class curriculum. Fischberger asserted that anti-racism, diversity and ‘decolonization’ efforts influenced alumni to protest State Department support for Israel.

A Georgetown spokesperson pushed back on the connections and assumptions in Fischberger’s  article and said they did not accurately reflect the Georgetown community.

“We believe this article is an inaccurate and incomplete account of the education provided at the School of Foreign Service and the wide range of views held by our alumni,” a university spokesperson wrote to The Hoya. “SFS strives to ensure that graduates understand how world affairs are shaped by varied perspectives, and our goal is for students and graduates to navigate challenging conversations with a respectful appreciation for different viewpoints.”

Members of the SFS Academic Council (SFSAC), the elected representative body of SFS undergraduate students, said they support decolonization while also condemning the violence of the Israel-Hamas conflict and said Fischberger’s failure to understand this signaled his own underlying biases.

“It goes without saying that the SFSAC condemns terrorism and violence; the SFSAC also proudly supports decolonization, anti-racism, and gender equality,” the council wrote to The Hoya. “By opposing decolonization, anti-racism, and institutes dedicated to gender equity, the author is implicitly positioning themself on the side of colonialism, racism, and sexism — an embarrassing ideological stance.” 

Fischberger pointed to SFS graduates in the State Department and cited the resignation of Foreign Service Officer Josh Paul (GRD ’02) as well as Sylvia Yacoub (GRD ’23)’s dissent cable, a State Department policy that allows employees to express constructive criticism free from reprimand, as proof of an issue with the SFS culture.

The SFSAC members said Paul and Yacoub’s actions do not reflect the SFS as a whole.

“Although humbled by the global influence that the author attributes to the SFS, such sweeping claims based on two graduates over a twenty-one year period would fail any introductory statistics course,” the SFSAC members wrote to The Hoya.

Conservative magazine City Journal published a criticism of the SFS, with students, faculty, and university officials rejecting many of the claims.

Fischberger also alleged that student organizations, namely the Georgetown chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), are pro-Hamas, referencing a rally the group organized Oct. 12 and the student walkout they facilitated Oct. 26. 

Fischberger also took issue with a Georgetown Voice editorial that called on Georgetown to acknowledge Israel’s occupation of areas in Palestine and an SJP statement calling for recognition of the occupation of Palestine, which 10 student clubs signed Oct. 10.

Members of the SFSAC said Fischberger’s article distorted student actions and missed groups and communities on campus coming together to further its own one-sided agenda.

“The author’s piece is intentionally deceptive at best and explicitly dishonest at worst, omitting key campus event details such as interfaith engagement, widespread advocacy for peace, and the cosignature of a Jewish students group on the SJP statement that has been distorted by the author,” the SFSAC members wrote. “Despite writing from a conservative ideology that often claims to support free speech and academic liberty, it is clear that the author only extends that freedom to those who share their ideological perspectives.” 

Fischberger also criticized Jonathan Brown (COL ’00) for his criticism of Israel on social media.  Brown is a professor at the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, which is dedicated to studying historical relations of and promoting future peace between Muslims and Christians, who has been critical of Israel on social media. 

Brown said Fischberger’s criticism of his perspective runs counter to the SFS’ welcoming of diverse viewpoints.

“I’m not a decolonial scholar,” Brown wrote to The Hoya. “In fact, I’ve been quite critical of that standpoint. In SFS we encourage critical thinking and the use of evidence to construct sound arguments. If someone has a problem with my statements regarding Israel/Gaza, they should address them on the merits.”

The university spokesperson said the goal of a Georgetown education is to allow students to participate in public discourse and form their own opinions.

“It is the hope of the University that the entirety of a Georgetown education will prepare students to embody certain life-long habits: participating creatively in an intellectual community, addressing complex issues and problems, developing a worldview that is both intellectually grounded and personally compelling, and engaging responsively in the world,” a university spokesperson wrote.

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