2 April 2024

The President and Rector of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem suspended Professor Shalhoub-Kevorkian for stating in a televised interview her outrage at the lies and genocidal acts of the Israel government and calling for Zionism to be eliminated. Under sustained international pressure, the President and Rector agreed to reinstate her once she agreed to take at their word women who claimed to have been abused and raped on 7 October, according to a report in The Times of Israel.

Suspended Hebrew U lecturer reinstated after recanting doubts over Hamas Oct. 7 rapes

University says Prof. Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian told them she doesn’t deny terrorists carried out sexual assaults; reportedly wasn’t asked to walk back Gaza genocide claim

Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, professor of social work and law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, during a presentation. (YouTube screenshot; used in accordance with clause 27a of the copyright law)

Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, professor of social work and law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, during a presentation. (YouTube screenshot; used in accordance with clause 27a of the copyright law)

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem said Wednesday that it will reinstate Prof. Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, who was suspended after a series of inflammatory statements, including remarks that were seen as denying that Hamas terrorists raped women during their devastating October 7 attack on southern Israel.

The university said in a statement that its rector Prof. Tamir Sheafer met with Shalhoub-Kevorkian and that during their conversation the professor “clarified that as a feminist researcher, she believes the victims and doesn’t doubt their claims and she did not deny that there were incidents of rape on October 7.”

She was not requested to walk back her claim that Israel was committing genocide in Gaza, the Haaretz daily reported.

The university said that, following the clarification, it found no obstacle to reinstating Shalhoub-Kevorkian, and she will continue to teach in the School of Social Work and Social Welfare.

In announcing the about-face, Sheafer said that “the Hebrew University strongly condemns inciting words and threats toward students, male and female lecturers, male and female employees, individuals and groups, and calls on all members of the university community to maintain a safe and respectful study and research environment.”

The university suspended Shalhoub-Kevorkian earlier this month, announcing that despite being warned to desist she continued with “divisive statements” that “bring embarrassment to our esteemed institution” and accusing Shalhoub-Kevorkian of taking advantage of her academic freedom of expression “for incitement and to create division.”

Screen capture from video of Hebrew University Rector Tamir Sheafer, January 2024. (YouTube. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

She was, therefore, suspended immediately “to ensure a safe and conducive environment for our students on campus.”

The suspension came the day after Shalhoub-Kevorkian, an outspoken critic of Israel and Zionism, told Channel 14 in an interview that Zionism should be abolished and called into question the rapes and other atrocities committed by Hamas.

Shalhoub-Kiborkian said that Israelis act afraid when they walk by and hear her talking Arabic on the phone, but they “should be scared because criminals are always scared… it’s time to abolish Zionism. It can’t continue, it’s criminal. Only by abolishing Zionism can we continue.”

She continued, “They will use any lie. They started with babies, they continued with rape, and they will continue with a million other lies. We stopped believing them, I hope the world stops believing them.”

Shalhoub-Kevorkian has been active in international progressive academia for many years. In October, several weeks after the Hamas assault, and shortly after Israel’s ground incursion into Gaza began, she was signatory number one to an open letter accusing Israel of genocide.

Blood covers the floor of a bedroom of a resident of Be’eri, on October 11, 2023. (Times of Israel/Canaan Lidor)

Although the university had initially indicated that Shalhoub-Kevorkian was suspended for accusing Israel of genocide in Gaza and calling for an immediate ceasefire, university leaders later clarified that it was because she denied the sexual assaults of October 7, Haaretz reported.

According to the newspaper, the university initially said she would be suspended until the end of the semester that just started.

However, the rector of the School of Social Work, Asher Ben-Arieh, later sent a letter to faculty staff saying he would not reinstate Shalhoub-Kevorkian unless she clarified that she would not deny the sexual assaults and brutal violence of the Hamas attack.

He specified in the letter that the issue was not Shalhoub-Kevorkian’s political position but her denial of “incidents of rape and murder of civilians, women and children on October 7, in complete contrast to the values of the social work profession, which require us all to stand by the victims.”

On October 7 Hamas led a massive cross-border attack on Israel in which some 1,200 people were killed, amid atrocities including rape and torture. Terrorists also abducted 253 people who were taken as hostages to Gaza.

IDF troops operate in Gaza in a photo cleared for publication on March 28, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

In an interview published by the New York Times on Tuesday, released hostage Amit Soussana, 40, described how she was sexually assaulted and attacked by her Hamas guard during her captivity in Gaza.

At the beginning of the month, the United Nation’s envoy on sex crimes during conflict presented a report at the UN indicating that rape and gang rape likely occurred during the October 7 Hamas onslaught, and that “clear and convincing” evidence shows that hostages were raped while being held in Gaza and that those currently held captive are still facing such abuse.

Shalhoub-Kevorkian is the Lawrence D. Biele Chair in Law at the Faculty of Law-Institute of Criminology and the School of Social Work and Public Welfare at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Global Chair in Law at Queen Mary University of London, according to her faculty page, which notes that she is a resident of Jerusalem’s Old City and a “prominent local activist.”

She is an expert on “trauma, state crimes and criminology, surveillance, gender violence, law and society. She studies the crime of femicide and other forms of gendered-based violence, violence against children in conflict-ridden areas, crimes of abuse of power in settler colonial contexts, surveillance, securitization and social control,” according to her page.