Contents Bearing On The Case Of Ilan Pappe

Dear Friends,

I have received today an invitation to stand for a trial in my university, the university of Haifa. The prosecution, represented by Haifa Dean’s of humanities demands my expulsion from the university due to the positions I have taken on the Katz affair. It calls upon the court “to judge Dr. Pappe on the offences he has committed and to use to the full the court’s legal authority to expel him from the university”. These offences are in a nutshell my past critique of the university’s conduct in the Katz affair, the MA student who discovered the Tantura massacre in 1948 and was disqualified for that. The reason the university waited so long is that now the time is ripe in Israel for any act of silencing academic freedom. My intent to teach a course on the Nakbah next year and my support for boycott on Israel has led the university to the conclusion that I can only be stopped by expulsion.

Judging by past procedures this is not a request, but already a verdict, given the position of the person in question in the university and the way things had been done in the past. The ostensible procedure of a ‘fair trial’ does not exist and hence I do not even intend to participate in a McCarthyist charade.

I do not appeal to you for my own sake. I ask you at this stage before a final decision has been taken to voice your opinion in whatever form you can and to whatever stage you have access to, not in order to prevent my expulsion (in many ways in the present atmosphere in Israel it will come now, and if not now later on, as the Israeli academia has deiced almost unanimously to support the government and to help silence any criticism). I ask those who are willing to do so, to take this case as part of your overall appreciation of, and attitude to, the preset situation in Israel. This should shed light also on the debate whether or not to boycott Israeli academia.

This is not, I stress, and an appeal for personal help – my situation is far better than that of my colleagues in the occupied territories living under the daily harassment and brutal abuses of the Israeli army. It is an opening gambit and many of colleagues, especially my Palestinian Israeli colleagues, can be next. A testimony to the tragic circumstances of my own university is that I know there is no use in distributing this letter on its internal web-site, as all of my colleagues in the past when it came to the crucial moment – for understandable reasons – felt they could do very little to help me, without risking their own position in the university.

I know many of you have access to world media and can help to expose the already dismal picture and false pretense of Israel of being the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’.


Ilan Pappe


Israeli academic freedom in general is under attack, as witnessed by the government’s response to the 250 university professors who signed a statement supporting the refuseniks. (See Neve Gordon, The Nation, May. 9, 2002)

Ilan Pappe has a BA from Hebrew University and a PhD from Oxford. He is a senior lecturer in Political Science at Haifa University and is the Academic Director of the Research Institute for Peace at Givat Haviva. His recent books include The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1948-1951 (New York, 1992) and The Israel/Palestine Question (London, 1999). He is identified as a revisionist or “post-Zionist” Israeli historian.

A brief Google search turned up a summary of the Katz case from a leftwing Israeli-Palestinian website called Between the Lines:


You can also download a long article by Pappe on Israeli historiography, called “Israeli Historians Ask: What Really Happened Fifty Years Ago?” from the website of AMEU (Americans for Middle East Understanding)



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