Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) is deeply concerned about the non-renewal of longtime University of Maryland (UM) professor and SPME member Melissa Landa. Currently, her contract is being investigated by the school’s Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct as an incident of retaliation and “religious, political, or national origin discrimination.”
The contract non-renewal came after Landa filed a complaint in February with the grievance board challenging Francine Hultgren and John O’Flahavan’s decision to remove her from the language arts instruction team in May 2016, according to a recent report by UM’s the Diamondback.
Landa has been on the faculty for a decade, most recently as an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership (TLPL) and received her PhD from the University of Maryland as an advisee of John O’Flahavan.
The tables started to turn on Landa when she began to actively fight BDS and anti-Semitism in early 2016. She increased her pro-Israel activism in the U.S., heading the Oberlin Chapter of Alums for Campus Fairness , which protested anti-Semitic and anti-Israel remarks by a professor, Joy Karega.
It was during that same time that Landa began feeling an increase of antagonism from her superiors. Landa said O’Flahavan pulled out of their joint conference presentation they had been working together for months. Also, days after she informed O’Flahavan of her partnership with Levinsky College of Education in Tel Aviv, he removed Landa from the TLPL Language Arts team.
Landa has been praised for her academic work as recently as May 2017, one month before her firing when she won the College of Education Exceptional Scholarship Award. Moreover, she has created a respectable teaching environment causing her former students to protest her firing.
SPME calls on the administration of the University of Maryland to stand by the pledge it made after the murder of second Lt. Richard Collins III on campus last May to, “come together as a campus community to reaffirm our core values of diversity, inclusion, respect and civil discourse.” We demand that the university honor this pledge and that a full and complete investigation, personally overseen by UMD President Wallace Loh, be undertaken by the university, in order to determine the extent to which anti-Semitism and/or anti-Israel bias played a role in Professor Landa’s termination.