March 2024 update: My position in the Hebrew University

On March 12, 2024, I was informed that the president and the rector of the Hebrew University decided to suspend Professor Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian from teaching in the Hebrew University (HUJI) because of her interview, in which she expressed highly critical stance of Israeli war in Gaza and of Zionism in general. This suspension–which was done without even a semblance of legal procedure–violates basic norms of the academic community in which any statement of any lecturer outside the classroom is not the matter for the university leaders to intervene. Worse, the announcement about Prof. Shalhoub-Kevorkian’s suspension was done not through a letter to the HUJI community but through a letter to a right-wing member of parliament, in which the president and the rector claimed that the university as such is a “proud Zionist institution” and that Prof. Shalhoub-Kevorkian’s views are at odds with those of the university.

For me the president’s and the rector’s statements and deeds were triply humiliating. First, because the colleague’s suspension for an interview unrelated to the university job violated the basic norms of academic freedom. Second, because the claims that HUJI is a “Zionist institution” and has whatever common political line to follow make me (as a person highly critical of many of Zionist ideas and ideals) feel not at home at my university any longer. And third, the fact that the university leaders prefer to placate politicians rather than address the colleagues is deeply humiliating. And, as the Sinological community knows, 士可殺不可辱.

In light of all this, I have decided that I can no longer represent the university in Israel or abroad, and have resigned from all my administrative tasks (including my current position as the director of Confucius Institute). It was a painful decision (HUJI is my home and is the primary reason for which I stay in Israel), but it was the minimal expected protest. My resignation mail (in Hebrew) is here. The English translation is here.

And some good news: after 48 hours of protests by colleagues and students, the HUJI leaders realized their mistake; Prof. Shalhoub-Kevorkian’s suspension was effectively reduced to a single week, and the matter is over, hopefully. I also expect that at some point of time our leaders will find courage to apologize to the university community. I hope that in due time I shall be able to restore trust in my alma mater.

Yuri, March 18, 2024


Interviews, Public talks, and Publications in Mass Media


      • Water pipes project, Wangjiashan 王家山 (Liuhecun 六合村) Village, Sichuan

DSC_0515             Wangjiashan stele