State-Backed Censorship: Israel’s Persecution of Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian

Professor Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian. (Design: Palestine Chronicle)

By Robert Inlakesh

Palestinians with Israeli citizenship are not allowed to exercise their right to freedom of expression when challenging the very policies that are aimed towards oppressing them.

Arrested by the Israeli occupation police, later to be released, renowned Palestinian Feminist Scholar, Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, faces a state-backed campaign of censorship.

Born and having grown up in the city of Haifa, Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian is both a Palestinian citizen of Israel and US passport holder. 

She studied at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she received her Doctorate of Philosophy in 1994 and would go on to hold positions at the Hebrew University’s Law School and School of Social Work, in addition to becoming the Global Chair in Law at Queen Mary University of London.

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On October 29, the Hebrew University issued a widely disseminated warning letter to Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkiak, which the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BSMES)’s Committee on Academic Freedom stated had the “capacity to incite both verbal and physical violence”. 

Later, in March, the Hebrew University suspended her following comments made on a podcast, during which she referred to the war on Gaza as a genocide. 

Despite her reinstatement, her employer’s actions have been widely viewed as having given credibility to a more forceful approach from the Israeli authorities.

After her suspension, Shalhoub-Kevorkian appeared on Democracy Now and stressed that she was not only concerned for the safety of her students at the University, who choose to oppose Israel’s ongoing genocide, but also that academic institutions around the world are being silenced. 

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Then, last week, Nadera was suddenly arrested from her home in the Old City of East Jerusalem, on charges of incitement to violence and was allegedly subjected to a harsh interrogation. 

Around 100 Hebrew University faculty members signed a letter that called out their own institution for having not stood behind the persecuted scholar, asserting that simply condemning her arrest was not enough. Meanwhile, 120 academics from around the world also added their signatures to a letter condemning the arrest.

The letter asserted that “We thus recognise this as an attempt to silence critique of Israeli state violence in a context of a society infused with open genocidal incitement and discourse.”

“In fact, the Minister of National Security Itamar Ben Gvir welcomed the arrest and said that it ‘conveys an important message – whoever incites against the State of Israel, we will take action against them. They will not be able to hide behind their position or any other title.’,” the letter continued.

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Interestingly, Israeli Minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, who has been behind a violent and aggressive racist crackdown on Palestinian citizens of Israel, was himself convicted of support for terrorism and incitement to racism. 

Yet, his support for the arrest of a respected Palestinian scholar, who was released due to an Israeli court order that assessed the charges laid against her as baseless, demonstrates that there is a clear campaign designed to silence dissent among scholars by the Israeli government.

In a system, stretching across the entirety of occupied Palestine, described as an Apartheid regime by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Israel’s own top right group, B’Tselem, the mere presence of Palestinian citizens of Israel at Israeli academic institutions is often weaponized by the regime as propaganda to suggest there is no inequality. 

The persecution of Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian is just one example of many, which demonstrate that Palestinians with Israeli citizenship are not allowed to exercise their right to freedom of expression when challenging the very policies that are aimed towards oppressing them.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

– Robert Inlakesh is a journalist, writer, and documentary filmmaker. He focuses on the Middle East, specializing in Palestine. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization, thus, all donations are tax deductible.)
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