Dear Hebrew U. – it is not an “opinion” — do not tolerate dishonest faculty

The blood libel that took place at Columbia University last week, mid-February 2019, received only limited press coverage. It was not a medieval priest accusing Jews of using blood in their matzah but a 21st century equivalent. A professor from Hebrew University claimed that Israel uses Palestinian children as guinea pigs to test weapons. Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, who has three degrees from Hebrew University and has been on their faculty teaching law and social work for over 20 years, surely knows the truth. Nadera is clearly a self-hating Israeli who travels the world spreading malicious lies about her home country which has given her so much.

What is more disturbing is the response of her employer, the Hebrew University, which receives funding from the Israeli government. Hebrew University’s reported response was the feeble:

“The views expressed by Prof. Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian don’t represent or express in any way the views of the Hebrew University or the university administration, but are her personal opinion that reflect only her views.”

Sure, she is entitled to her opinions and due to academic freedom the university cannot sanction her for her opinions. But here it is not opinions that are being discussed, but blatant lies. Whether the university can and should take action against a faculty member who spreads blood libels about Israel can be discussed. But irrespective, the Hebrew University should let it be known that they object in the strongest possible terms to the spreading of lies about Israel. One could expect that a university should be averse to blatant lies in general. If someone claimed that Hebrew University professors are ugly, well, they are entitled to their opinion. On the other hand, if someone published an article stating that the pass rate of Hebrew University students on the bar exam is the lowest in the country (a non-truth), I suspect the University would have more to say than that everyone is entitled to their opinion. The least that they should have said is that “the statements made by Prof. Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian are outright lies. We are a proud Israeli university which stands behind our country and are ashamed that one of our faculty members uses her affiliation with us to harm our country.”

It is quite ironic that she has  chaired a committee for the last 10 years which is tasked with approving experiments on human subjects in the Law Faculty.

The treasured Academic Freedom does not give one license to fabricate accusations against their own country. It should not give one immunity for encouraging BDS and acting as a fifth column. Hebrew University should show that they have a backbone and do more than whimper a statement about everyone being entitled to their own opinions. They should be proud Israelis and stand up against our enemies and they should be proud academics and not tolerate lies.

About the Author
Ari Zivotofsky is a professor of neuroscience at Bar Ilan University. Also trained as a rabbi and shochet, he has a masters degree in Jewish history. He has written extensively on topics of Jewish history, culture, and traditions, in particular in his regular column (now running 20 years) in the OU magazine Jewish Action and in Mishpacha magazine.
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