• Associate professor of Middle East and North Africa history at Georgetown University • Supports the anti-Israel BDS movement • Signed the Refuse Fascism petition calling for the removal of President Trump
After studying philosophy at Collège Louis Wegmann (in Beirut, Lebanon) from 1977-81, Osama Abi-Mershed received a BA in economics from the American University of Beirut in 1984, an MBA in international finance and marketing from George Washington University (GWU) in 1988, an MA in international affairs from GWU in 1997, and a PhD in history from Georgetown University in 2002. He has been an associate professor of history at Georgetown since 2003, specializing in the history of North Africa and the Middle East. From 2011-17, Abi-Mershed served as director of Georgetown’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS), an organization that in April 2012 promoted a campus event featuring guest speaker Mads Gilbert – a revolutionary socialist who supports Hamas and who once claimed that the 9/11 terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda constituted a “legitimate response” to U.S. provocations.
In the summer of 2014, while Israel was engaged in Operation Protective Edge – a military incursion designed to degrade the terrorist infrastructure of an increasingly hostile Hamas in the Gaza Strip – Abi-Mershed signed his name to an anti-Israel petition that Historians Against the War subsequently sent to President Barack Obama and all Members of Congress. The petition condemned “the ongoing attacks against civilians in Gaza and in Israel”; “the disproportionate harm that the Israeli military, which the United States has armed and supported for decades, is inflicting on the population of Gaza”; “Israeli policies [that] have made effective evacuation of war zones virtually impossible”; and the “unacceptable … failure of United States elected officials to hold Israel accountable for such acts.” Moreover, the petition called on Obama to “demand a cease-fire, the immediate withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza, and a permanent end to the blockade so that its people can resume some semblance of normal life.” It also urged the president to “suspend U.S. military aid to Israel, until there is assurance that this aid will no longer be used for the commission of war crimes.”
In August 2014, Abi-Mershed was one of 13 Georgetown faculty members – and 218 Middle East Studies professors nationwide – to sign a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement petition calling for a boycott against Israeli academic institutions. The boycott’s premise was that those institutions – by their “silence [regarding] the latest humanitarian catastrophe caused by Israel’s new military assault on the Gaza Strip” – were “complicit” in perpetuating “the occupation and dispossession in East Jerusalem … and the West Bank, the construction of walls and fences around the Palestinian population, the curtailment of Palestinian freedom of movement and education, and the house demolitions.” To address these concerns, Abi-Mershed and his fellow signatories pledged “not to collaborate on projects and events involving Israeli academic institutions, not to teach at or to attend conferences and other events at such institutions, and not to publish in academic journals based in Israel” unless the Jewish state agreed to “end its siege of Gaza,” terminate “its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967,” “dismantle the settlements and the walls,” and “promote the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties.”
In 2017, Abi-Mershed signed a petition circulated by Refuse Fascism, an organization founded by members of the Revolutionary Communist Party. Calling for the ouster of U.S. President Donald Trump, the petition stated, in part: “NO! In the Name of Humanity – We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America! DRIVE OUT THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME!” “There is method to Trump’s madness that echoes Hitler,” the petition added. “… This is not just a pendulum swing [from] Democrat to Republican, but a regime that is moving to establish a fascist order under the signboard of ‘America First’.”
Further Reading: “Osama Abi-Mershed” (LinkedIn, CanaryMission.org); “Historians’ Letter to President Obama and Members of Congress” (7-31-2014); “13 Professors Boycott Israeli Universities” (The Hoya, 9-6-2014); “Jewish Professors Hit Back Against Pro-Israel Campus ‘Blacklist’” (Forward.com, 10-1-2014).