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Israeli Court Orders Release of Palestinian Academic Suspected of Incitement to Terror

14:00 Apr 19 2024 Jerusalem's Magistrate Court

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Professor Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian at the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court, on Friday. Credit: Naama Grynbaum Published by Haaretz
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The judge criticized the police, saying that there was no justification for the arrest of Prof. Shalhoub-Kevorkian over her remarks about October 7. Police argued that she 'uses conspiracies to advance measures against Israel'

by Nir Hasson and Josh Breiner for Haaretz
Apr 20, 2024 12:22 am IDT

On Friday, the Jerusalem Magistrates Court ordered the release of Professor Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, a lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who was arrested on Thursday on suspicion of incitement following her remarks about the Hamas attack on October 7 and the subsequent war.

Police alleged that Prof. Shalhoub-Kevorkian was suspected of inciting terrorism, and requested to extend her remand by a week. However, Judge Dov Pollock rejected the motion, saying that the findings filed by the police do not justify her arrest.

The police requested to delay the release, which Judge Pollock approved until 14:00. At the hearing, a police representative argued that Prof. Shalhoub-Kevorkian has "extensive exposure in Israel and the world" and that her remarks "are dangerous in that they are liable to influence people to carry out acts against the State of Israel."

The judge criticized the police, saying "I can understand that you wanted an arrest warrant in order to carry out searches, but so far you have found nothing that I can use and consider justification for the arrest, and I have received no other explanation," he said. "The papers you found [express] an opinion. I found nothing related to an organization prohibited by law."

In his decision, Judge Pollock wrote that a review of the investigative materials "indicate that there are some expressions, which may cross the line of freedom of expression into incitement." He emphasized, however, that he was not persuaded that evidence had been found that testifies to the lecturer being a danger or the need to keep her in remand.

It emerged in the hearing that Prof. Shalhoub-Kevorkian had also been questioned about academic articles she had published. Her lawyer, Dr. Hassan Jabareen, said that this was the first time that an academic in Israel had been questioned about a published academic article, and that these were old articles that have been taught for years.

Prof. Shalhoub-Kevorkian was suspended from teaching on March 12, following comments in an interview of the podcast "Makdisi Street", which covers the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In part of the podcast devoted to October 7, she called Israel "a necrophilic killing machine", and said, "I am not saying that nothing bad and evil happened on October 7, but what is happening in Gaza, after so many months, is not just evil and genocide. It's something that the world is allowing to happen."

She also cast doubts about the scope of the sexual violence on October 7. "The creation of stories, the exaggeration, was done in order to portray the Palestinians as terrible … Sexual violence is a thing that happens, and I oppose it … If a woman says she was raped, I believe her. But we're not seeing [after October 7] a woman come and say what happened to her."

The Hebrew University reinstated her two weeks later, after she clarified that she is not doubting that sexual violence had taken place during the attack.

Police argued in its motion that Prof. Shalhoub-Kevorkian "is very dangerous to the public" and that she "lies … and knowingly uses conspiracies to advance measures against Israel, the country where she lives."

The police called the professor's remarks a "blood libel" and stated that she "minimizes the acts of Hamas, and even justifies and legitimizes most of them, and denies those that are difficult for her, even her, to justify and accept."

In an unusual step, the police distributed a full translation of her remarks during the podcast. On Thursday, the State Prosecutor's Office said that it approved the decision to open an investigation of Prof. Shalhoub-Kevorkian.

The Hebrew University condemned the arrest and called for Prof. Shalhoub-Kevorkian's immediate release. "We strongly object to many of the things that Prof. Shalhoub-Kevorkian said. Nonetheless, as a democratic country, there is no place to arrest a person for such remarks, however infuriating they may be," it stated in an announcement.
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