Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Columbia law professor Franke blocked from entering Israel and deported (MOVING TO FRONT--UPDATED)

NYT columnist Roger Cohen has the details.  Columbia faculty are calling on President Bollinger not to open a Columbia affiliated Center in Israel, given uncertainty about which Columbia faculty will actually be permitted to travel there.  American law professors have signed an open letter condemning the deportation of Professor Franke.

ADDENDUM:   Here is a letter from Israeli law professors and the list of signatories:  Download Franke letter English final

UPDATE:  Columbia's Dean, Gillian Lester, kindly wrote to me and invited me to share the following: 

I saw your blog's coverage of the NYT op-ed about Katherine Franke's recent detention and deportation from Israel.  Unfortunately, I was never contacted by Roger Cohen to provide input before he published his op-ed.  I'd like to think that if he had spoken with me, he would have written a different article.  The article suggested a lack of concern on the part of myself and Columbia Law School regarding Katherine's experience and regrettably could mislead readers as to our core values.  Following the publication of the op-ed, I made a statement to our faculty that I now forward now to you and that you are welcome to share.

*   *   *


As many of you know, our colleague, Katherine Franke, was recently denied access to Israel, detained, and deported while traveling there as a member of a delegation from the Center for Constitutional Rights and in furtherance of her academic work. After being in contact with Katherine during her detention and offering assistance, I was glad to learn of her safe return.

As an academic institution that supports individuals with widely diverse views, the Law School tries vigorously to respect and protect a broad array of activities and points of view. Doing so will, at times, counsel against taking substantive positions on behalf of the entire community.

With that said, let me state unequivocally that both personally, and in my position as dean of the Law School, I believe that the unconstrained movement of people and the global exchange of ideas and viewpoints are vitally important to the critical intellectual engagement at the heart of our mission as a university. Efforts to restrict such exchange, whether by any country’s law or by other means, are antithetical to these baseline principles and I strongly object to any policy that would deny a member of our community access to Israel—or any other country—on the basis of her political views or scholarship. 


I think Dean Lester's statement is exactly right, and thank her for giving permission to share this.


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