SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: April 18, 2024

Attack Types: Imprisonment | Violence

Institution(s):Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Region & Country:Western Asia | Israel

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On April 18, 2024, Israeli police arrested Professor Nadira Shalhoub-Kevorkian, 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 Hebrew University, on suspicion of incitement to terrorism, violence and racism.

In early April, Israeli police asked the prosecutor’s office to approve a criminal investigation against Shalhoub-Kevorkian. The request was made based on a March 6 interview that the professor participated in on the podcast Makdisi Street. During the interview, she stated that she “opposes things that were done” by Hamas on October 7, but expressed doubt that Hamas fighters had used sexual violence. Shalhoub-Kevorkian went on to condemn Zionism, saying, “Zionism is a crime, and only by revoking it will we be able to go on.” Previously, Hebrew University had suspended Shalhoub-Kevorkian for her remarks, before reinstating her two weeks later (see report).

In the course of arresting her, police searched Shalhoub-Kevorkian’s home, confiscating books, posters, her mobile phone, laptop, and other personal items. While in prison, Shalhoub-Kevorkian was strip-searched, handcuffed, and held in a cold cell without adequate clothing and without access to food, water, and medication for several hours. Police interrogated her about her academic work.

Police released Shalhoub-Kevorkian the following day, April 19, after a magistrate and district court judge ruled that she posed no threat. However, she was due to appear again for questioning on April 21.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arbitrary arrest and ill-treatment of a scholar. Absent further evidence of wrongdoing, this arrest suggests an effort to retaliate against or deter academic work or views — conduct that is expressly protected by international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Israel is a party. State authorities must respect academic freedom and nonviolent expressive conduct and refrain from actions intended to punish, restrict, or deter such conduct. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, such actions undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.