The University of Jena has reneged on its offer of a visiting fellowship to Professor Brenna Bhandar of the University of British Columbia, whose  research focus is on property studies and legal theory, spanning the disciplines of property law, critical theory, colonial legal history and critical race feminism. The cancellation of all the public-facing aspects of her fellowship has, however, nothing to do with her scholarship. Rather it resulted from the University of Jena’s being informed that she had advocated the use of Boycott Divestment and Sanctions against Israel.

We need to be clear about what this action means: namely that ‘no platforming’ is being enforced not by an unruly student body, but by the university itself; and not on account of Bhandar’s research, but because of her entirely legal activities as a concerned citizen. It appears, then, that the university’s detestation of boycott is so intense that it has instituted one of its own. Perhaps it should reflect on that irony.

There is of course another possible explanation for the University of Jena’s extraordinary discourtesy to Professor Bhandar. The public sphere in Germany has become a toxic bearpit, where any support for Palestinian rights or criticism of contemporary Israel is likely to draw down a barrage of virulence from Israel’s supporters, presented as a concern about antisemitism. Given the events of the mid-twentieth century the German impulse demonstratively to negate antisemitism is entirely understandable. But imposing cancel culture from above is a bizarre way of trying to do so.

BRICUP deplores this illiberal act, offers its support to Professor Bhandar, and calls on the University of Jena to reverse its decision.