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“No Palestinian Is Safe”: Renowned Feminist Scholar Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian Arrested in Jerusalem

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Image Credit: Arab World Press via Reuters Connect

Israeli police arrested the internationally renowned feminist Palestinian academic Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian at her home in Jerusalem on Thursday on charges of incitement to violence. Shalhoub-Kevorkian, who holds both Israeli and U.S. citizenship, was suspended by Hebrew University last month after saying in an interview Israel was committing genocide in Gaza, though the university later reinstated her. We speak with anthropologist Sarah Ihmoud, who describes Shalhoub-Kevorkian as a mentor and inspiration to her and many others. “We hold the Hebrew University of Jerusalem responsible for the arrest and detention because of its persistent and public repression of her academic freedom, which led directly to yesterday’s arrest,” says Ihmoud, who teaches at College of the Holy Cross and is co-founder of the Palestinian Feminist Collective. “We see this as yet another example of Israel attacking Palestinians wherever they are, whoever they are. It underscores that no Palestinian is safe under Israel’s racist apartheid rule.”

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Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Amidst crackdowns on pro-Palestinian voices on campuses coast to coast in the United States, we begin today’s show in Israel, where police arrested the internationally renowned feminist Palestinian professor Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian at her home in Jerusalem Thursday on charges of incitement to violence. The professor holds both Israeli and U.S. citizenship. She was suspended by Hebrew University last month after saying in an interview Israel was committing genocide in Gaza. But then the university reinstated her. She spoke on Democracy Now! in March after her suspension.

NADERA SHALHOUB-KEVORKIAN: The question remains whether what is teachable, what is what should be written, what is publishable, what is what we can speak as scholars that are studying state criminality, as opposing to what is going on, as opposing to what the state is doing, is not accepted, so they throw us out of the university. And this is the same policy that the state of Israel is doing outside. So, it’s silencing. It’s preventing people from speaking. It’s threatening. It’s punishing. And it’s also done in a very degraded and undignifying manner. Calling my students a day before the end of the first semester and telling me, “You’re suspended,” is something that is beyond any expectations. But this is — and stressing it’s a Zionist institution. “You can’t abide by these rules, you’re out.”

My only concern, Amy, today is the safety of students, the safety of my students, Jewish and Palestinian, that are standing against genocide, standing against the war, refusing to see the continuous and ongoing atrocities. My really concern is the silencing of dissent all over the world, because we see it in academic institutions. The question: If we think that academic institutions should work according and by the orders from the state, I don’t know why we’re having academic institutions. Academia and research requires that we’re attentive to details, to what goes on to the life of women, men, children. And I am really concerned today. And, of course, I must clearly state that the behavior of the university is a behavior that is threatening the safety of our students, the safety of colleagues that are speaking against the genocide, and my own personal safety as a person who lives in Jerusalem, and the safety of my family.

AMY GOODMAN: That was last month. After professor Shalhoub-Kevorkian’s arrest on Thursday, over a hundred professors around the world released a statement calling for her immediate release, calling her arrest an attack, quote, “on all Palestinian scholars, students, and activists who bring to light the violent and genocidal nature of the Israeli state,” they wrote.

Today, professor Shalhoub-Kevorkian had a hearing, where a judge ordered her release. But she has not been released, as the Israeli government is reportedly appealing.

For more, we’re joined by Sarah Ihmoud, a Chicana Palestinian anthropologist, assistant professor of anthropology and peace and conflict studies at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. She’s founder of the Palestinian Feminist Collective. Professor Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian is her mentor.

We welcome you to Democracy Now!, Professor Ihmoud. If you can start off by giving us the latest? We spoke to her when she was in London after being suspended by Hebrew University. They then reinstated her, she went home to Israel, and she has now been arrested. What have you heard of this hearing and why she was arrested?

SARAH IHMOUD: Thanks for having me, Amy, and thank you for bringing light to the case of professor Shalhoub-Kevorkian, who, as you noted, is an internationally renowned feminist scholar and human rights activist who has been working to bring attention to the situation of Palestinian women and children under Israeli military occupation for the past three decades.

As far as we understand, professor Shalhoub-Kevorkian was violently arrested from her home in the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City yesterday around 5 p.m. The police raided her home and confiscated her belongings, including her laptop, some books, from what I understand, as well as a poster of the Palestian poet Mahmoud Darwish.

Professor Shalhoub-Kevorkian, as you noted, has been subjected to violent repression and harassment by the Hebrew University for speaking out against the ongoing genocide in Gaza. And she was suspended from her teaching duties in March, though later reinstated once it became clear that there was no basis for the allegations against her. Ultimately, we hold the Hebrew University of Jerusalem responsible for her arrest and detention because of its persistent and public repression of her academic freedom, which led directly to yesterday’s arrest.

And we see this as yet another example of Israel attacking Palestinians wherever they are, whoever they are. It underscores that no Palestinian is safe under Israel’s racist apartheid rule, not even someone like Dr. Shalhoub-Kevorkian, who is both an Israeli and American citizen and a world-renowned and respected feminist scholar. And it’s important to note, as well, that Israel routinely holds Palestinians captive and imprisons them without trial, without due process and under inhumane conditions, including children, and that this is just both unjust and illegal. And this is an attack on her as both a Palestinian and a scholar who is rightfully speaking out against Israel’s well-documented human rights abuses and ongoing genocide.

So, as far as we understand, the Jerusalem court magistrate had ordered her release under the condition of a 20,000-shekel bail. However, the court, the state — the state and the police are appealing, and they have taken her to the central court, where they’re still holding her. So we are still waiting further details about whether she will be released or whether the state will continue holding her.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about how you know her, Professor Sarah Ihmoud?

SARAH IHMOUD: Of course. Thank you, Amy. I have known professor Shalhoub-Kevorkian for over a decade. I first met her in occupied East Jerusalem when I was a graduate student just beginning to pursue my Ph.D. dissertation research. And she has become one of my dearest friends and mentors over the past decade. She’s someone that has really opened my eyes, and many across the world, to the intimacies of Israeli settler-colonial violence and repression in occupied East Jerusalem and across the Palestinian territory.

Her work has focused on specifically the conditions of women, how patriarchy and colonialism intersect to shape the lives of women, and what justice looks like for Palestinian women. And her work has also really taken a central imperative to understanding the conditions of Palestinian children and speaking out against the persistent human rights abuses of Palestinian children in occupied territory. She is the scholar who founded the concept of unchilding to help us further understand, as scholars across the world interested in children’s rights, how settler-colonial states typically shape the lives and limit the futures of children, Indigenous children and racialized children, across the globe. So her work has been absolutely pathbreaking and important not only in the Palestinian context, but in global contexts where populations are facing racialized and gendered repression and violence.

And she has been a beloved mentor to many, including myself. And she has always centered love in the way that she cares for her students, for scholars in her community. And she continues to center that ethics and method of love in the work that she does in the community and with her students across the Hebrew University and beyond.

AMY GOODMAN: In addition to being a professor at Hebrew University, she also taught at Queen Mary University in London. We spoke to her in London. Another professor there is Neve Gordon, the Israeli scholar, who we also recently did an interview with. He just tweeted, the judge — “Nadera Hearing: The judge to police: I can understand that you wanted the arrest to conduct searches, but so far you have not found anything that justifies the arrest and I have not received any other explanation. The pages you found are an expression of opinion,” the judge said. As we wrap up, Professor Ihmoud, the significance of this, and why you feel she’s being targeted right now?

SARAH IHMOUD: Absolutely. Thank you. I think, you know, it’s important to stress the absurdity of her portrayal by the police as dangerous. And yet this follows a history of Palestinians, generally, and Palestinian women, in particular, being portrayed as a dangerous threat to Israeli security. Obviously, we see how the entire population of Gaza has been dehumanized, and that has provided the pretext for Israel’s continued genocidal assault on the entire civilian population of the Gaza Strip. And of course Israel sees professor Shalhoub-Kevorkian as dangerous, because her work for the last several decades exposes exactly the opposite, of course — that is, the humanity of the Palestinian people in the face of the inhumanity of the Israeli state in its quest to continue to occupy, terrorize and brutalize the Palestinian people and repress our movement for liberation.

So, we are calling on international scholars, activists and people of conscience everywhere to continue maintaining pressure for her immediate release and for all of the charges against her to be dropped. We are outraged by this unlawful action, and we refuse the continuing silence and violence by the Israeli state and its institutions against the Palestinian people and for those who, like professor Shalhoub-Kevorkian, continue being a voice of light and love, standing for justice and liberation. Again, professor Shalhoub-Kevorkian has always centered her love for her people, for her students’ safety and security. And it’s important that we follow in her footsteps in the path that she has been taking herself and leading us in embodying hope and the necessity that we continue speaking out against Israel’s ongoing genocidal violence.

AMY GOODMAN: Sarah Ihmoud, we want to thank you for being with us, Chicana Palestinian anthropologist, assistant professor of anthropology and peace and conflict studies at the College of Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, where she’s speaking to us from. She’s a founder of the Palestinian Feminist Collective. Professor Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian was arrested Thursday in Jerusalem at her home.

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