17 October 2016
On 12 September 2016, a member of SOAS academic staff, Dr. Adam Hanieh, traveled to Israel in order to lecture in the Ph.D. Program in Social Sciences at Birzeit University. Dr. Hanieh, who is a Senior Lecturer in Development Studies, had helped develop the curriculum for this program and was due to deliver three classes to the first cohort of PhD students. On arrival at Ben Gurion airport he was held for questioning over a period of ten hours, taken overnight to a detention centre outside of the airport, and then returned back to London the following morning. A representative of the Israeli Ministry of Interior informed him that he was banned from entering the country for ten years.
Immediately following this incident, SOAS Director Baroness Valerie Amos wrote to the Israeli Embassy requesting an explanation. Unfortunately no satisfactory response has been forthcoming, thus confirming our belief that this is an arbitrary breach of academic freedom. This is not the first time that members of the SOAS community have been denied entry to Israel. Ensuring access by staff and students to the regions in which we specialise is of vital importance to the university’s teaching and research. It is also critical to our ability to develop and strengthen ties with academic institutions outside of the UK.
SOAS is committed to academic freedom and will continue to work to ensure full access for all its staff and students.