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War on Gaza: Yuri Pines resigns from Hebrew University after Palestinian colleague suspended

Professor's resignation comes after Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian was suspended for calling for the abolition of Zionism
Uri Pines, who specialises in Chinese studies, has announced his resignation (Screengrab/X)
Yuri Pines, who specialises in Chinese studies, has announced his resignation (Screengrab/X)

Yuri Pines, an Israeli professor of Chinese studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has announced his resignation from the institution, citing the suspension of a Palestinian academic. 

Pines, who resigned on 12 March, wrote a letter to the university specifying that he took the decision after its suspension of Nadra Shalhoub-Kevorkian, who had called for an end to Zionism.

Pines said he would refuse to work for the university any longer because of its ideological commitment to Zionism.

In his statement, he wrote: “The content in the vile letter about the dismissal of Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian surprised me. I never thought that the Hebrew University was a Zionist institution: I saw it as an academic institution, in which Zionists and non-Zionists, as well as anti-Zionist people like myself, could work.

“I thought that the university was led by people who are rational enough to understand that the issue of whether Israel is committing genocide in Gaza belongs to the field where students and lecturers can freely express their opinion.” 

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In his statement he said he had never before heard of the university suspending a lecturer because of their political stance, and that he will refuse to accept any other positions there in the future.

“I have never felt so insulted,” he continued.

According to local media, Pines was previously imprisoned several times for refusing military service in the occupied territories and for refusing military service in Lebanon.

'Strong condemnation'

The resignation came immediately after the university suspended Shalhoub-Kevorkian for saying that it was time to "abolish Zionism".

In an interview on Monday with Israel's Channel 12, Shalhoub-Kevorkian, a law professor, said Zionism "can’t continue, it’s criminal. Only by abolishing Zionism can we continue."

"They will use any lie. They started with babies, they continued with rape, and they will continue with a million other lies. We stopped believing them, I hope the world stops believing them," she added, in reference to Israeli allegations of crimes committed on 7 October by Hamas in its surprise attack on southern Israel.  

War on Gaza: Hebrew University suspends prominent Palestinian academic
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In October, Shalhoub-Kevorkian signed a letter accusing Israel of genocide in Gaza, and called for an end to apartheid and the ongoing occupation of Palestine.

The Hebrew University said on Tuesday that it sent a formal letter to the academic at the time, which "expressed strong condemnation over Prof Shalhoub-Kevorkian’s alignment with a petition characterising Israel’s actions in Gaza as genocidal and labelling it an occupying force since 1948".

In its statement, the university said: "As a proud Israeli, public, and Zionist institution, the Hebrew University strongly condemns Prof Shalhoub-Kevorkian’s recent shocking and outrageous statements… To ensure a safe and conducive environment for our students on campus, the university has decided to suspend Prof Shalhoub-Kevorkian from teaching activities, effective immediately."

Her suspension has been widely criticised, with commentators accusing universities of cracking down on criticism of Israel's actions. 

Since the outbreak of war last year, scores of Palestinian citizens of Israel have been arrested in connection with social media posts expressing solidarity with victims of Israel's bombardment in Gaza.

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