Israel detains then releases renowned Palestinian academic

Israel detains then releases renowned Palestinian academic
Israeli police arrested Professor Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian at her home in Jerusalem based on accusations of inciting violence, terrorism and racism.
3 min read
Israeli police arrested Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian for alleged incitement to terrorism, violence and racism [GETTY]

The Jerusalem District Court ordered the release of Palestinian feminist scholar Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian on Friday after her arrest by Israeli police for alleged incitement to terrorism, violence, and racism.

The professor, who has been dealing with some health issues, was arrested from her home in Jerusalem. Police searched her house and confiscated her laptop, smartphone, some of her working papers and a collection of poetry books and scripts by poet Mahmoud Darwish.

The police said that they had found posters in her home "portraying IDF soldiers as an occupying army".

Shalhoub-Kevorkian is a professor 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. She is also a Palestinian citizen of Israel.

The scholar was interrogated by police, who decided by the end of the interrogation to extend her detention on suspicion of incitement based on statements she made in a March podcast and academic lectures.

In the podcast episode named "There is so much love in Palestine", the professor detailed personal experiences of working and living under the Israeli occupation and spoke about the genocide in Gaza, the Israeli authorities' withholding of bodies, and settler violence.

During the proceedings, the police claimed that Shalhoub-Kevorkian engaged in "serious incitement against the State of Israel by making statements against Zionism and even claiming that Israel is committing genocide in the Gaza Strip," noting the "significant influence" her statements have.

Shalhoub-Kevorkian's arrest was met with protests in front of the Jerusalem District Court, where demonstrators showed solidarity with the professor by shouting in Hebrew: "No to political persecution. No to fascist police".

The Jerusalem District Court dismissed the police's appeal against a magistrate's court decision ordering the release of Professor Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, finding no merit to their claim that she is dangerous and should remain in detention.

Magistrate Judge Dov Pollock noted that the police raid on her house found "no substantial evidence to support the severity of the accusations or to indicate [her] involvement in further offences." The court ordered her to be released on condition that she attend an interrogation and sign a financial guarantee.

"The arrest of Prof. Shalhoub-Kevorkian is only one episode in a long series of repeated harassment and incitement against her, which includes a large number of violent threats against her, death threats, delay at the airport when she returned from the UK where she gave a series of lectures, and the decision of her employer, the Hebrew University, to suspend her from teaching, a decision which was reversed later on," said Alaa Mahajna, the lawyer representing Shalhoub-Kevorkian.

"This arrest is illegal and is part of the police policy to intimidate the Palestinian community in Israel. It also aims to attack and deter critical voices in the academy. We call on the academic community in Israel and the world to protest against this witch-hunt," Mahajna added.

"It is clear that the Minister of National Security—a convicted criminal and a racist far-right figure—is behind this decision and policy. The question is whether the State Attorney has approved this investigation and arrest," added Alaa Mahajna.

Despite Israeli police appealing the court's decision, Jerusalem District Court Judge Abraham Rubin agreed with the magistrate's court and dismissed the police's appeal.

Professor Shalhoub-Kevorkian was targeted in a public hate campaign in November after joining over 1,000 researchers signing a call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem leader sent the professor a letter denouncing her and pressuring her to resign.