The BRISMES Committee on Academic Freedom has written to the president and rector of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem to express our profound concern over the content of their letter of 29 October to Professor Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, its widespread dissemination and, given the current atmosphere in Israel, its capacity to incite both verbal and physical violence against Professor Shalhoub-Kevorkian.
It is precisely during times of war that academic freedom and freedom of expression are tested and need to be assiduously and robustly protected. Yet, the University's letter of 29 October appears to do exactly the opposite. It not only breaches Professor Shalhoub-Kevorkian’s academic freedom, but it also produces a chilling effect among the University’s staff and students, particularly Palestinian staff and students, many of whom will feel unable to voice their lawful opinions on a wide range of urgent questions. Moreover, and as mentioned above, the letter’s widespread circulation has potentially endangered Professor Shalhoub-Kevorkian’s mental and physical wellbeing and contravenes the University's duty of care towards her.
We ask that the president and rector rescind their letter to Professor Shalhoub-Kevorkian and issue an apology alongside a commitment to academic freedom that will be circulated to all Hebrew University staff. We further ask that they urgently inquire about her safety and offer her their support, including by assessing whether she needs the University to provide a security detail in the coming weeks.