Letter from AURDIP to the administration of the Hebrew University concerning the University’s involvement in police harassment of the Issawiyah neighborhood

Prof. Asher Cohen,
President, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Prof. Barak Medina,
Rector, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Dear Colleagues.

I am writing to you on behalf of the French Association of Academics for the Respect of International Law in Palestine (AURDIP), to express our concern at reports that the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has become implicated in the controversial operations of the Israeli Police in the Occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiyah.

From media reports we learn about police raids, house searches, severe restrictions of movement, hundreds of arrests, dozens of wounded and one resident, Mohammad Samir Abbed, killed. From our colleagues at Academia for Equality we learn that the University may have played a role in the Police’s decision to block one of the only two entrances to Issawiyah, and that recently it authorized it authorized Police officers to surveil the neighborhood from a campus building.

These reports, if correct, are evidence of a troubling violation of the principle of academic independence and neutrality, damaging the trust between the University, its neighboring communities, and its students and staff, among whom are Palestinians including residents of Issawiyah. Hence we strongly suggest that you consider taking the steps suggested by Academia for Equality in their Open Letter to you. Specifically, we support their call to the University to inform the Police that it has no objections to opening the southern entrance to Issawiyah and that the University refrain in future from allowing the Police to use its facilities for operations targeting the neighborhood.

I am writing you as fellow members in an international community dedicated to academic excellence, independence and social equity. As colleagues, we are certain that you will receive our concerns in this spirit and take the necessary action.

Yours sincerely,

Ivar Ekeland, FRSC

Former President, the University of Paris-Dauphine
Former Director, the Pacific Institute of Mathematical Sciences
Vice President, AURDIP