The "Freedom" of Professor Ghazi-Walid Falah

I’m coming to this a bit late, but I figured it was still important enough to post about, especially in light of recent events and the hysteria surrounding them.

I’ll let posts from others speak for themselves:

Israel Arrests Geography Professor from the University of Akron

On the 9 July, 2006 Professor Ghazi Walid Falah—a professional geographer who holds dual Arab-Israeli and Canadian citizenship and is a University Lecturer at the University of Akron in Ohio—was arrested by the Israeli authorities near Haifa in northern Israel.

Some time before his arrest Professor Falah had travelled to Israel to visit his mother before she underwent critical brain surgery. On July 9th Professor Falah packed his camera and headed for a popular tourist resort near Nahariya, close to the border with Lebanon.

While taking photographs he was approached by members of the Israeli police force. He was subsequently detained and escorted back to his brother’s house in a nearby town where he had been staying. There he was ordered to collect all of his personal belongings and was ushered away by the police. To date no charges have been publicly brought against Professor Falah and his attorney is under a restraining order not to discuss the case with the media or public.

Recently Professor Falah was released, making a statement to the Canadian Association of Geographers mailing list, a paragraph of which I excerpt below:

I was not allowed access to a lawyer for the first 18 days of my detention. I was freed on July 30 because no charge could be brought. There is no evidence against me because there cannot be. I believe my rights have been gravely violated by this ordeal. It is an affront to international scholarship in the social sciences. The Israelis are proud of their universities and research. But there is another dark side to the world of science pertaining to the realities of Israel: the Israeli government would like to intimidate and silence researchers who speak uncomfortable truths to power. That should not be forgotten. At one level, it is what my detention, humiliation and harassment were all about. Read what I write. Think about its implications.

I have no commentary, except to say that this is indeed chilling. And given the direction of global events these days, I fear that this will happen more and more often. It’s more important than ever that those of us who possess the freedom, in academia, to speak up on contentious issues do so.

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