Friday, June 14, 2024

Editors refuse to take down article on Palestine, Columbia Law Review directors shut down entire website

The Columbia Law Review (CLR) shut down its website after Harvard Law School student and Palestinian human rights lawyer Rabea Eghbariah published an article on the Nakba.

Eghbariah’s article ‘Toward Nakba as a Legal Concept’ appeared on the website early Monday morning.

According to The Intercept report, the journal’s board of directors responded by pulling the entire website offline, and the homepage on Monday morning read “Website under maintenance.”

Eghbariah said he worked with editors at the CLR for more than five months to write the 100-plus-page article.

The Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) condemned the move and released a statement.

“This most recent repression by the Columbia Law Review Board of Directors is a shameful attempt to silence groundbreaking legal scholarship shining light on the catastrophe of Zionism and the ways in which it fragments, displaces, and disempowers Palestinian society,” the Committee said on X.

Seven editors who worked on the article told The Intercept that over the weekend, “members of the board of directors of the journal pressed the law review’s leadership to postpone or even rescind its publication.” 

CLR editors spoke to the news site on the condition of anonymity fearing backlash that others have faced for speaking out for Palestine.

As the editors rejected the board’s request to take down the text, they “pulled the plug on the entire website.”

Several editors who protested the board’s decision have been asked to resign, according to the report.

“I don’t suspect that they would have asserted this kind of control had the piece been about Tibet, Kashmir, Puerto Rico, or other contested political sites,” Katherine Franke, a professor at Columbia Law School, reportedly said.

Earlier in November, the Harvard Law Review had also rejected Eghbariah’s essay at the last minute, despite “extraordinary editorial scrutiny.”

Eghbariah’s article tries to create a legal framework for Nakba in international law.

Similar to genocide and apartheid, which were recognised as crimes in response to specific atrocities carried out by Nazi Germany and white minority-ruled South Africa, he argues for a distinct legal concept to acknowledge the Palestinian plight.

“The attempts to silence legal scholarship on the Nakba by subjecting it to an unusual and discriminatory process are not only reflective of a pervasive and alarming Palestine exception to academic freedom, but are also a testament to a deplorable culture of Nakba denialism,” Eghbariah told The Intercept.

Columbia has witnessed mass student protests beginning in April, calling for the university to divest from Israel against its ongoing genocidal war against Palestinians in Gaza.

Nakba Day, commemorated every year on May 15, marks the loss of the historic Palestinian homeland coupled with the mass ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian population in 1948, after the formation of the State of Israel.

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 36,550 Palestinians have been killed, and 82,959 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

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