Professor denied tenure: may sue Ithaca College

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency says Margo Ramlal-Nankoe, an assistant sociology professor at New York’s Ithaca College, has hired Norman Finkelstein’s lawyer Lynne Bernabei after getting turned down for tenure, twice. The school says they made the decision based on her scholarship and “uneven teaching.”

Ramlal-Nankoe has taught at Ithaca since 1997 and was eligible for tenure in 2006. She is active in Students for a Just Peace, which advocates for an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. She vehemently denies that she is “anti-Israel.”

Chronicle of Higher Education adds:

Ms. Ramlal-Nankoe, who is from India and grew up in the Caribbean, teaches courses on women in the third world and on global race and ethnic relations, and has been a faculty adviser for a group called Students for a Just Peace, which opposes the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.

She does not consider herself either pro-Israel or pro-Palestine, her lawyer, Lynne Bernabei, said, “but many of the countries and societies she writes about are supportive of something other than Israeli policy, so she is tagged with that.”

Ms. Bernabei’s Washington, D.C., law firm, Bernabei & Wachtel, sent a letter this month to Ithaca’s president and the chairman of its Board of Trustees, saying that both of Ms. Ramlal-Nankoe’s tenure reviews were influenced by “blatant political lobbying against her based on her teachings on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”

Specifically, the letter says that Ms. Ramlal-Nankoe was not deemed friendly to Israel by Howard Erlich, who retired in May after 20 years as dean of Ithaca’s School of Humanities and Sciences. Mr. Erlich and Ms. Ramlal-Nankoe clashed, the letter says, because he considered the student group she advised and some speakers she invited to campus to be “anti-Israel.”

The letter asks the college to grant Ms. Ramlal-Nankoe tenure or face a legal battle.

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