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February 18, 2019 6:59 pm

Hebrew University Distances Itself From Lecturer Who Said Palestinian Kids Face ‘Death Machine’ in Jerusalem

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Poster promoting a talk with Hebrew University professor Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian on Feb. 12. Photo: Columbia University.

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem distanced itself from a professor who claimed that the Israeli military was using Palestinian children to test its weapons — comments that were denounced by one audience member as fallacious and incendiary.

Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, a professor of criminology and sociology at the Hebrew University, made the comments during a Tuesday lecture at Columbia University in New York that was organized by the school’s Center for Palestine Studies.

During the talk — titled “Jerusalem’s Children in the ‘Showroom’ of Violent Technologies,” and attended by some 30-40 people — she said that “Palestinian spaces are laboratories for the Israeli security industry, [they] are using them as showcases,” according to a recording obtained by The Algemeiner.

She said her research was based on the testimonies of some 600 local children who she asserted face a “death machine” at Bab al-Amud, the Arabic name for the Damascus Gate entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem, which has been the site of dozens of Palestinian attacks — including deadly stabbings and shootings — in recent years.

Security measures in the area were increased following the fatal stabbing of 23-year-old border guard Hadas Malka in 2017, prompting concern from some Palestinians who accused Israel of turning the entryway into a “fortress” — an allegation shared by Shalhoub-Kevorkian, who did not mention the multiple lethal attacks that preceded what she deemed the “increasing militarization” of the site by Israel, which she repeatedly called a “settler state.”

These security measures are then marketed by Israeli companies to international buyers, Shalhoub-Kevorkian said. “They’re making money out of this. Making money over children’s bodies and children’s lives.”

A Columbia student who attended the event, Ofir Dayan, said the lecture was “full of contradictions” and contained uncorroborated allegations.

“She didn’t give any proof” to back claims of weapons being used illegitimately against Palestinian children at Damascus Gate, argued Dayan, the president of Columbia’s Students Supporting Israel and a former officer in the Israel Defense Forces.

“The only example she gave of technology was cameras, and London has millions of cameras,” she told The Algemeiner. “Building the entire lecture on violent technologies, then having it be a security camera — that’s not a violent or bad technology.”

“Look, I’m Israeli,” she added. “Thinking that my money pays her salary is just crazy. It’s not just that these things are wrong — it’s not an opinion piece [she’s writing]. She goes around universities across the world and, with the credibility of Hebrew University, spreads lies about Israel.”

Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett called for the lecturer’s dismissal on Sunday, saying in an Army Radio interview, “It’s a shame that an Israeli lecturer in Israeli academia is slandering IDF soldiers around the world.”

“It doesn’t make sense that a university would hire a person that badly slanders IDF soldiers, that lies, that simply shares the worst antisemitic slander,” he continued.

In its own statement, Hebrew University said Shalhoub-Kevorkian’s opinions “do not represent or express those of Hebrew University or its administration in any way.”

“They are her personal opinions that reflect only her views,” the school concluded.

Shalhoub-Kevorkian did not immediately answer a request for comment.

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