Dr. Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian during a hearing in Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, March 19, 2024.


Courtesy of Adalah legal team

Feature Story

In Historic First, Police Arrest Palestinian Professor on Suspicion of Incitement Based on Academic Work, Podcast


A new threshold is crossed in the demise of freedom of speech in Israel: The ivory tower becomes the next target of the state. A Palestinian Jerusalemite professor is the “sacrificial lamb.”

On Thursday, April 18, around 5:00 p.m., a swarm of Israeli police arrested Dr. Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem from her bedroom in her home in the Old City.

According to the legal team, this is the first time in Israel’s history that a professor has been arrested for published scholarship or speech.1

Shalhoub-Kevorkian, a dual US-Israeli citizen who is Palestinian, is the Lawrence D. Biele Chair in Law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Faculty of Law, Institute of Criminology, and Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare. She is also the Global Chair in Law at Queen Mary University of London.

The arrest was on suspicion of incitement. The police accusations were based on statements that Shalhoub-Kevorkian made on the podcast Makdisi Street, released on March 8, 2024. In the episode, titled “There Is So Much Love in Palestine,” Shalhoub-Kevorkian, an anti-Zionist, detailed accounts of her own experiences of working and living under the oppressive Israeli regime and spoke about the genocide in Gaza, the Israeli authorities’ withholding of corpses, extreme settler violence, and Zionism, among other things.

While at her house, the police searched it for an hour, confiscating her laptop and phone, her latest academic work in progress (which they demanded), a couple of books, and some posters of poetry by Mahmoud Darwish, which they ripped down off the walls.

Inhumane Conditions

During her 24 hours in custody, Shalhoub-Kevorkian, who is in her early 60s with health conditions, was handcuffed and shackled, marched down three flights of stairs, and interrogated for hours—mostly about her published academic work.

She was then locked in solitary confinement in a freezing cold, cockroach-infested cell that reeked of urine. A vomit-encrusted blanket was the only protection from the cold provided. When her ear started to bleed from elevated blood pressure, she requested medication, but the request was denied.

The cell remained harshly lit all night, and a buzzing noise continuously sounded, preventing any possibility of sleep.

Although the hearing was scheduled for the next morning at 9:30 a.m., it did not begin until about 1:00 p.m. The timing was significant, since all Israeli government offices close on Friday around 4:00 p.m. for Shabbat and do not reopen until Sunday morning. This week, the Passover holiday starts the day after, on Monday, so there was a possibility that she would remain detained for more than a week. Given that the arrest happened on April 18, but the objectionable podcast aired weeks earlier on March 8, one might suspect that the timing of the arrest was not accidental.

She was locked in solitary confinement in a freezing cold, cockroach-infested cell that reeked of urine.

First Hearing

The police made their case first in the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court.

Dr. Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem attends a hearing on her arrest for “incitement” at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, March 19, 2024.

Dr. Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, senior faculty member of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, attends a hearing on her arrest on suspicion of “incitement” at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, March 19, 2024.


Oren Ziv

Shalhoub-Kevorkian was represented by attorneys Alaa Mahajana and Dr. Hassan Jabareen, Director of Adalah—The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel.

The police claimed that Shalhoub-Kevorkian had engaged in “serious incitement against the State of Israel by making statements against Zionism and even claiming that Israel is committing genocide in the Gaza Strip.”2

According to a press release by Adalah,

The police claimed that such statements constituted incitement, asserting that “Professor [Shalhoub-Kevorkian] has a significant influence with her statements. There is extensive exposure both domestically and internationally.” Additionally, the police noted that they had found posters in her home “portraying IDF soldiers as an occupying army.”3

The police asserted that Shalhoub-Kevorkian’s language in the podcast “poses danger since she has influence and the things she says can be interpreted in one way or another . . .”4 Therefore, they requested to extend her arrest by seven days (given the fact that the upcoming week is the Passover holiday, this would effectively have meant more like 10 days).

In his decision, Judge Dov Poluk stated:

Upon reviewing the investigation materials presented before me, it appears that the case concerns remarks made by the respondent during a podcast on March 8, 2024. After reviewing the material, it appears that there are a few statements that may cross the line of freedom of expression into incitement.

It has been more than a month since the podcast, and it is unclear why no actions were taken against the respondent earlier if the plaintiff believed she posed a danger.

Following the arrest of the respondent, a search was held in her home, and no real evidence was found to bolster the claim of her dangerousness or to suggest additional offenses.5

There, the judge ordered that Shalhoub-Kevorkian be released while the investigation proceeded under three conditions:6

  • Personal bail in the amount of NIS 10,000 (USD 2,640)
  • Third-party guarantee also in the amount of NIS 10,000 NIS (USD 2,640)
  • The respondent must appear for investigations or any court hearings.

Second Hearing

The police then appealed the ruling that same afternoon around 3:30 p.m. in a higher court, the Jerusalem District Court, before Judge Abraham Rubin. The judge concurred with the magistrate’s court decision and dismissed the police’s appeal.

Based on these decisions, Shalhoub-Kevorkian was released under the conditions listed above.

Demonstrators hold signs outside the Jerusalem court in support of Dr. Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian’s release, March 19, 2024.

Demonstrators hold signs outside the Jerusalem court in support of Dr. Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian’s release, March 19, 2024.


Waed Ghantous

The police noted that they had found posters in her home “portraying IDF soldiers as an occupying army.”

Ongoing Investigation

No charges have been officially pressed against her yet, but the case remains open, and the investigation is ongoing.

The police retained possession of her devices and the other materials seized from her home during the search.

“This is an illegal arrest whose purpose is to intimidate and harm any critical voices in the Israeli academy,”7 said her attorneys Mahajna and Jabareen.

According to Adalah, which defended her in court:

The police’s arguments clearly show that the arrest of Professor Shalhoub-Kevorkian is unlawful, targeting her research, academic work, and opinions critical of Israel in international forums. The police failed to demonstrate or explain how Professor Shalhoub-Kevorkian’s statements constituted incitement, with the courts’ finding no merit to their claims that she was dangerous or that her detention was warranted. With the direction and encouragement of openly racist National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, the police are now persecuting senior, world-renowned academics based on their dissenting opinions and academic work.8

Indeed, after her arrest, Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir publicly praised the arrest, saying he “congratulates” [the police] for detaining the “professor who incited against the State of Israel.” According to him, the apprehension “sends the significant message that those who incite against Israel will not be able to hide under such titles or roles.”9

In response, Palestinian MK Ahmad Tibi (Ta’al) responded, “Those who paved the way for this investigation are the shameful and cowardly administration of the Hebrew University.”10

“This is an illegal arrest whose purpose is to intimidate and harm any critical voices in the Israeli academy.”

Attorneys Alaa Mahajna and Hassan Jabareen, representing Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian

A Toxic Climate

The arrest followed months of harassment against her by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and its leadership, which publicly asked her to resign after she signed a petition in October that called Israel’s assault on Gaza a genocide.11 As a tenured professor, Shalhoub-Kevorkian cannot be fired. She did not resign. She is a senior faculty member at the university where she has taught, worked, and undertaken extensive research for decades. Three of her graduate degrees (BSW, MA, and PhD) were also conferred by the university in the 1980s and 1990s, according to her CV. A partial list of her books appears at the end of this story.

On March 12, the university suspended her for comments she made on the Makdisi Street podcast a few days earlier.12 They released a humiliating public letter that read, in part,

The arrest followed months of harassment against her by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and its leadership.

Since the beginning of the war, Prof. Shalhoub-Kevorkian has been speaking out in a disgraceful, anti-Zionist, and inflammatory manner. On Oct. 29, in an exceptionally serious letter, on behalf of the university’s president, we suggested that she consider leaving her position. Shalhoub-Kevorkian did not respond to the request, and continues to enjoy the reputation of our magnificent institution, while embarrassing us at the Israeli and international level.13

At the time, the suspension provoked local and international outrage. About 100 Hebrew University faculty members called for it to be revoked.14 Shortly thereafter, the university retracted the suspension.15

Over the past months, the university has tolerated all manner of harassment against Shalhoub-Kevorkian on campus, including posters plastered everywhere calling for her termination. Clearly, the revocation did not calm the incendiary climate that has been created around her, and in which her arrest took place.

However, the Hebrew University did call for her immediate release from arrest this week.16 Shortly thereafter, however, it issued a statement in response to a report on Israeli TV distancing the university from Shalhoub-Kevorkian’s research and its methods. The statement said, “The University totally condemns the conclusions of Shalhoub-Kevorkian’s research, as it was mentioned in the report, also we find that parts of her research are fundamentally flawed . . . ”17


All in all, police summoned Shalhoub-Kevorkian to the Mevasseret police station three additional times for further interrogation, on April 25, April 28, and May 2, 2024. Each session lasted hours. She was questioned on past academic publications, sources for some of her data, the meaning of academic terms such as “settler-colonism,” “autologia,” “security theology,” and “sacrilization,” and her political views, among other topics. Her legal team wrote a letter to the state attorney and the Israeli police station regarding the repeated police interrogations, which they said exceeded the legal scope approved by the state attorney’s office for this interrogation.18

On Tuesday, May 7, 2024, the police submitted their case to the prosecutor. Now all that Shalhoub-Kevorkian can do is wait.

Single-Authored Books by Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian

(with M. Abdulhadi) Tribal Justice and Its Effect on Formal Justice in Palestine. [In Arabic.] Birzeit: Institute of Law, Birzeit University, 2003.

Mapping and Analyzing the Landscape of Femicide in Palestinian Society. Jerusalem: Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling, 2004.

(with N. Abdo) Women and Political Conflict: The Case of Palestinian Women in Jerusalem. Jerusalem: Women’s Studies Center, 2006.

Militarization and Violence against Women in Conflict Zones: A Palestinian Case-Study. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Security Theology, Surveillance and the Politics of Fear. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

Incarcerated Childhood and the Politics of Unchilding. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019.



Mentioned by Adv. Hassan Jabareen in his concluding remarks, “Case No. 45839-04-24: State of Israel vs. Nadra Kavorkian, April 19, 2024.” Protocol of proceedings, informal English translation by the Van Leer Institute, provided by Adalah. Also available on X.


Jerusalem District Court Orders Release of Professor Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian,” Adalah—The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, April 19, 2024.


“Jerusalem District Court.”


“Case No. 45839-04-24.”


“Case No. 45839-04-24.”


“Case No. 45839-04-24.”


Jack Khoury, Josh Breiner, and Nir Hasson, “Israel Police Arrest Palestinian Academic on Suspicion of Incitement to Terror,” Haaretz, April 18, 2024.


“Jerusalem District Court.”


Khoury et al., “Israel Police Arrest.”


Khoury et al., “Israel Police Arrest.”


Orly Noy, “Hebrew University’s Faculty of Repressive Science,” +972 Magazine, March 23, 2024.


There Is So Much Love in Palestine,” Makdisi Street, March 9, 2024 [recorded March 6, 2024].


The Senior Lecturer Who Spreads Lies about Israel” [in Hebrew], Channel 12 (Israel), April 20, 2024.

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