Court releases Hebrew U. professor held for incitement, calls her arrest unjustified

University slams arrest of Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian for month-old comments questioning Hamas atrocities on Oct. 7; judge ‘unconvinced’ she’s dangerous

Professor Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, who was arrested on suspicion of incitement, arrives for a court hearing at the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court, April 19, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
Professor Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, who was arrested on suspicion of incitement, arrives for a court hearing at the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court, April 19, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Friday ordered the release of Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, an Arab Israeli professor from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem who was arrested the day before on suspicion of incitement.

The court rejected a police request to extend the professor’s remand, according to Hebrew media reports, saying that the police’s own findings did not justify the arrest.

During the discussion, demonstrators assembled outside the courthouse to protest Shalhoub-Kevorkian’s arrest.

“There are some expressions that may have crossed the line from free expression to incitement,” wrote Judge Dov Pollock in the ruling. “And yet, the question before the court is whether it is necessary to prolong her arrest on the suspicion that she poses a danger.”

“I am unconvinced there is a need to continue her incarceration,” concluded the judge.

An unnamed police source who disagreed with the judge’s impression was quoted by the Walla news site as claiming that “the Protocols of the Elders of Zion pale in comparison with the suspect’s libels,” referring to an infamous early-20th century antisemitic tract.

“Nadera is very dangerous to the public, incitement-wise, because she justifies harming Israelis, soldiers, hostages, including women and children,” said the source, claiming that the scholar’s failure to retract her comments over the past month was evidence that she was willing “to do everything… to help [Hamas] in the war against Israel.”

Demonstrators protest in support of Professor Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian who was arrested on suspicion of incitement, outside the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, April 19, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

The Hebrew University had on Thursday issued a statement condemning Shalhoub-Kevorkian’s arrest.

“The university is sharply opposed to many of the things that Prof. Shalhoub-Kevorkian said a month ago,” read the statement.

“Nonetheless, we are extremely concerned about her arrest, if it is indeed based on the things she had said publicly,” it continued, saying the arrest was contrary to the country’s democratic nature.

“We call for the immediate release of Prof. Shalhoub-Kevorkian.”

A senior lecturer at the university, Shalhoub-Kevorkian was first suspended in March after a March 9 interview with the podcast Makdisi Street, in which she said Zionism should be abolished and called into question the rapes and other atrocities committed by Hamas.

File: 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)

She said Israelis act afraid when they walk by and hear her speaking in Arabic, “and they should be afraid because criminals are always afraid. They cannot dispossess my land, they cannot displace my people. They cannot kill and not be afraid, so they better be afraid.”

She continued, “It’s time to abolish Zionism. It can’t continue, it’s criminal. Only by abolishing Zionism can we continue.”

Shalhoub-Kevorkian’s statements denying Hamas atrocities led to her brief suspension by the university, and some students demanded her removal. In late March, however, the university reinstated her, citing a meeting Shalhoub-Kevorkian had with its rector Prof. Tamir Sheafer where she “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.

Following the clarification, the university said it found no obstacle to reinstating the professor and that she would continue to teach in the School of Social Work and Social Welfare.

Students at Hebrew University in Jerusalem protest against Prof. Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian on March 17, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

On October 7, thousands of Hamas-led terrorists stormed southern Israel to kill nearly 1,200 people, mainly civilians, and take over 250 hostages.

Israel’s military response on Gaza has devastated the Strip, displacing over a million people and effecting a humanitarian catastrophe that the United Nations describes as famine.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says more than 33,000 people in the Strip have been killed in the fighting so far, a figure that cannot be independently verified and includes some 13,000 Hamas gunmen Israel says it has killed in battle. Israel also says it killed some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7.

Two hundred and sixty IDF soldiers have been killed in the offensive.

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