Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, the Lawrence D. Biele Chair in Law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Global Chair in Law at Queen Mary University of London and an authority on legal aspects of childhood (pictured), signed a petition by researchers in her field calling for an end to the bombing of Gaza and the mass killing of Palestinian children. You might have thought this was an unexceptionable act, the sort of thing academics frequently do. And it was. The President and Rector of the Hebrew University, however, responded by denouncing her claim that Israel’s bombing amounted to genocide as an intolerable slur on their country and called on her to resign. That was not all. They circulated her letter widely in the university, which ensured it reached the mainstream media and led to a public vilification campaign that forced her into hiding.

Our letter to the University administrators is reprinted below.

16 November 2023

Asher Cohen, President, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem                                                                            Tamir Sheafer, Rector, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Dear Sirs

Professor Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian

Your letter to Professor Shalhoub-Kevorkian, calling on her to resign for signing a petition by childhood researchers urging a ceasefire and an end to Israel’s mass killing of Palestinian children, swiftly reached the press and public and led to a campaign of vilification against her, as you must have anticipated. Yet you seemed to be unaware that it also made a mockery of the very name of your institution. For if there is one principle that universities should represent above all else, it is the right to speak freely, without fear of intimidation, and not least on issues of public controversy: academic freedom in other words.

Professor Shalhoub-Kevorkian joined others in calling for a peaceful solution to a chronic conflict. You, in contrast, supported a government that took the decision deliberately to deny food, water, medicines and energy sources to a whole people, thus associating yourselves with the commission of a war crime. This, too, puts your university to shame.

We call on you, at the very least, to formally withdraw your letter and apologise to Professor Shalhoub-Kevorkian and the whole University community.

Yours sincerely

Dr Robert Boyce                                                                                                                                                              Secretary, BRICUP


cc. Asher Ben Arieh, Dean of Social Work

Tomer Broude, Dean of Law