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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Open Letter from Jewish Law Professors Protesting the Treatment of Professor Katherine Franke

Katherine Franke (Columbia) was detained and denied entry by Israeli authorities earlier this month. The incident sparked a number of open letters objecting to her treatment. The letter, after the break, is from (some) Jewish law professors.

We, the undersigned, write to protest the refusal of the State of Israel to permit entry to Professor Katherine Franke of Columbia University Law School, along with Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. Franke and Warren arrived to meet with Israeli and Palestinian colleagues. They were questioned for 14 hours before being sent back home without entry. As colleagues of Professor Franke, we know her as a serious scholar of gender, sexuality, civil rights, and human rights and as the author of one book, numerous well-regarded law review articles, and a second forthcoming book. She holds a chaired professorship at Columbia Law School, where she has also served as vice dean, and she has testified before congress and contributed to several edited volumes.

While much of her work has focused on gender equality and civil rights for African Americans, Professor Franke has been deeply engaged in and concerned about the status of Palestinians both within Israel and under the Israeli occupation. She has worked as a mentor to colleagues in human rights at Al Quds University in Jerusalem. Professor Franke had travelled to Israel as part of a civil rights delegation with the Center for Constitutional Rights and as an academic to meet with Columbia graduate students in Haifa and Ramallah and to meet with faculty at An-Najah University about a possible master’s program in human rights. She previously served as a member of the academic advisory council of Jewish Voice for Peace, an organization that supports elements of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Presumably, it is Professor Franke’s former affiliation with Jewish Voice for Peace and its position on BDS that led to her exclusion. The Knesset has passed a series of laws, most recently in 2017, directed against those who support a boycott, including those who support a boycott of settlement products in the occupied territories. In addition, and with the support of Prime Minister Netanyahu, the Knesset has passed several bills in recent years limiting the right to open and free expression. While some of us agree with Professor Franke’s substantive views, and some of us do not, we are united in our serious concern at her recent exclusion from the country, and the growing trend to exclude visitors based on their viewpoint and beliefs. Denying entry to those with dissenting views is a worrying sign of the erosion of democratic foundations in Israel.

A critical measure of a society’s commitment to democracy lies in its willingness to tolerate political views at odds with those of the ruling regime. We have seen examples around the world, from Turkey to Hungary to Venezuela, of increasing intolerance for dissenting views—and for the very principles of liberal democracy. By its latest action against Katherine Franke and Vincent Warren, the Israeli government has registered its own indifference to the core values of democracy and a deeply concerning unwillingness to tolerate dissenting viewpoints. As Jewish law professors dedicated to democratic values and academic freedom, we call on our academic communities and our academic institutions to stand in support of Professor Franke and the principles which were violated by the denial of entry. We also call on the Israeli government to reconsider its recent steps and permit Katherine Franke and all those who support peaceful political dialogue and engagement to enter the country.

  1. Richard L. Abel, Connell Distinguished Professor of Law Emeritus and Distinguished Research Professor, UCLA Law School
  2. David Abraham, Professor of Law, University of Miami Law School
  3. Kathryn Abrams, Herma Hill Kay Distinguished Professor of Law, UC Berkeley School of Law
  4. Libby Adler, Professor of Law and Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies, Northeastern University
  5. Erez Aloni, Assistant Professor, Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia
  6. Scott Altman, Virginia S. and Fred H. Bice Professor of Law, University of Southern California
  7. Jack M. Balkin, Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and the First Amendment, Yale Law School
  8. Jon Bauer, Clinical Professor of Law and Richard D. Tulisano '69 Scholar in Human Rights, University of Connecticut School of Law
  9. Paul Schiff Berman, Walter S. Cox Professor of Law, The George Washington University Law School
  10. Susanna Blumenthal, William Prosser Professor of Law and Professor of History, University of Minnesota Law School
  11. Linda Bosniak, Distinguished Professor, Rutgers Law School
  12. Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean and Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law, UC Berkeley Law School
  13. Brenda Cossman, Professor of Law, University of Toronto
  14. Anne C. Dailey, Evangeline Starr Professor of Law, University of Connecticut Law School
  15. Joshua Foa Dienstag, Professor of Political Science and Law, UCLA School of Law
  16. David R. Dow, Cullen Professor, University of Houston Law Center
  17. Peter Edelman, Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center
  18. Sam Erman, Associate Professor, USC Gould School of Law
  19. Catherine Fisk, Barbara Nachtrieb Armstrong Professor of Law, UC Berkeley Law School
  20. Carole Goldberg, Jonathan D. Varat Distinguished Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law
  21. Ariela Gross, John B. and Alice R. Sharp Professor of Law and History, USC Gould School of Law
  22. Bruce Hay, Professor of Law, Harvard University
  23. Deborah Rosenfield Hensler, Judge John W. Ford Professor of Dispute Resolution, Stanford Law School
  24. Morton Horwitz, Professor, Emeritus, Harvard Law School
  25. Paul W. Kahn, Robert W. Winner Professor of Law and the Humanities, Yale Law School
  26. Hila Keren, Professor of Law, Southwestern Law School
  27. Jeremy Kessler, Associate Professor of Law, Columbia Law School
  28. Karl Klare, George J. & Kathleen Waters Matthews Distinguished University Professor, Northeastern University School of Law
  29. Diane Klein, Professor of Law, University of La Verne College of Law
  30. Pnina Lahav, Professor of Law and Law Alumni Scholar, Boston University School of Law
  31. Sanford Levinson, W. St. John Garwood and W. St. Garwood, Jr. Centennial Chair in Law, University of Texas Law School
  32. David Luban, University Professor and Professor of Law and Philosophy, Georgetown University Law Center
  33. Michael Meltsner, Northeastern University School of Law
  34. Naomi Mezey, Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center
  35. Frank Michelman, Robert Walmsley University Professor, Emeritus, Harvard Law School
  36. Jennifer L. Mnookin, Dean and David G. Price and Dallas P. Price Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law
  37. Samuel Moyn, Professor, Yale Law School
  38. Judith Resnik, Arthur Liman Professor of Law, Yale Law School
  39. Darren Rosenblum, Professor, Pace Law School
  40. Tanina Rostain, Professor Georgetown Law Center
  41. Lawrence Sager, Alice Jane Drysdale Sheffield Regents Chair of Law, University of Texas
  42. Susan R. Schmeiser, Professor of Law, University of Connecticut School of Law
  43. Hilary Schor, Professor of English, Comparative Literature, & Law, USC Gould School of Law
  44. Louis Michael Seidman, Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Constitutional Law, Georgetown University Law Center
  45. Amy Sepinwall, Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
  46. Peter M. Shane, Jacob E. Davis and Jacob E. Davis II Chair in Law, Ohio State University Moritz College of Law
  47. Jed Shugerman, Professor of Law, Fordham Law School
  48. Dan Simon, Richard L. and Maria B. Crutcher Professor of Law and Psychology, USC Gould School of Law
  49. Jonathan Simon, Professor of Law, UC Berkeley School of Law
  50. Joseph William Singer, Bussey Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
  51. Abbe Smith, Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center
  52. Brad Snyder, Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center
  53. Clyde S. Spillenger, Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law
  54. Carol Steiker, Henry J. Friendly Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
  55. Beth Stephens, Distinguished Professor, Rutgers Law School
  56. Simon Stern, Associate Professor of Law, University of Toronto
  57. Nomi Stolzenberg, Nathan and Lilly Shapell Chair in Law, USC Gould School of Law
  58. Mark Tushnet, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
  59. Adam Winkler, Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law
  60. Gideon Yaffe, Professor of Law & Professor of Philosophy and Psychology, Yale Law School
  61. Jonathan Zasloff, Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law
  62. Noah Zatz, Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law

Institutional affiliations listed for identification purposes only.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on May 17, 2018 at 04:45 PM in Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink


עורך דין אזרחי

Posted by: AVI | Nov 28, 2020 9:39:02 AM

Indeed, I prefer folks who have acquaintance with at least some if not many of the titles found in the bibliographies provided by yours truly on his Academia page, although experience has taught me that the vast majority of interlocutors online have not done the requisite research and are simply not well read on the topic (in other words, their massive ignorance is palpable, and inexcusable to the extent they opine with confidence if not arrogance on matters about which they are clearly ill-informed or uninformed, something many Americans have a peculiar talent for; although non-Americans of nationalist and populist right-wing persuasion are not averse to imitating this dispositional vice):
• The Arab World: https://www.academia.edu/4844174/The_Arab_World_Modern_and_Post-Modern--A_Basic_Bibliography
• The Bedouin: https://www.academia.edu/5550063/The_Bedouin_An_Introductory_Bibliography
• The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: https://www.academia.edu/4844077/Israeli-Palestinian_Conflict_bibliography
• Nonviolent Resistance in the Middle East (with emphasis on the Palestinian struggle): https://www.academia.edu/9852946/Nonviolent_Resistance_in_the_Middle_East_with_an_emphasis_on_the_Palestinian_struggle_A_Bibliography
• Zionist Ideologies: https://www.academia.edu/7662581/Zionist_Ideologies_A_Select_Bibliography

(This is five of eighty-six sundry compilations found on my Academia page.)

Posted by: Patrick S. O'Donnell | May 23, 2018 8:03:59 AM

Is there anything worse than online discussions about the I-P conflict by people who have only read Ilan Pappe and Benny Morris?

I'm sure there is, but right now one does not come to mind.

Posted by: YesterdayIKilledAMammoth | May 23, 2018 2:20:44 AM

Jordan treats the Palestinians much better than Israel.


"Most Palestine refugees in Jordan, but not all, have full citizenship. There are ten recognized Palestine refugee camps throughout the country, which accommodate nearly 370,000 Palestine refugees, or 18 per cent of the country total. Jordan hosts the largest number of Palestine refugees of all of the UNWRA fields."


"1,951,603 refugees live in Jordan, and one fifth live in thirteen refugee camps established following Arab–Israeli conflicts in 1948 and 1967. These camps are characterised by poor living conditions and associated health, social and environmental problems."

Posted by: Ahkbad | May 19, 2018 11:40:10 PM

Not Hasbarah :) Is that the new (faux) ad hominem when you are afraid to confront the propositions and facts head on? Your metaphor is quite telling of your true views, though.

Posted by: Dhimmi | May 19, 2018 8:28:26 PM

And the hasbara (or hasbara-like) trolls seep up from the muck and mire...

Posted by: Patrick S. O'Donnell | May 19, 2018 7:16:01 PM

Yes, it's very "courageous" of CLS/Marxist tenured professors at elite American universities to criticize Israel. The ramifications and fallout could be HUGE for them... I also love it when communists invoke the current international law and international legal rights regimes as if these could possibly be squared with their own politico-religious dogma...

What should Biff have added there in terms of said tactics? Their joining Arab fascist parties? Pan-Arabism? Communism and support from the Soviet Union? What about suicide bombing shopping malls and buses? Adopting (and/or feigning) Islamo-fascist sympathies in order to gain financial aid from certain quarters? Religious-cultural appropriation of Jewish holy sites and banning Jews from them? Culture erasure tactics? Endorsing the claim that the Ashkenazi Jews are really Khazars?

("[C]omparatively long quest"? Not compared to the indigenous population, Paddy).

Posted by: Dhimmi | May 19, 2018 6:34:36 PM

Biff --

I would counsel caution before drawing sweeping conclusions from the fact that "only" 62 Jewish law professors signed this letter, while others did not.

First, members of minority or affinity groups do not have an affirmative obligation to speak for their group, such that a failure to do so can be given some larger meaning. Thus, for example, women law professors who don't sign a letter denouncing efforts to defund Planned Parenthood should not be taken to be expressing sympathy with those efforts (and the reverse). Minority groups aren't monoliths, and group members aren't obligated to prove this. Yet this is the inevitable implication of emphasizing the number of Jewish law professors who aren't signatories.

Second, how do you think letters like these work? Do you think there's like a single global listserv for all Jewish law professors (and perhaps another one for every other minority group), and people spend their days scrolling through and signing and declining to sign letters and responding to bar mitzvah invitations? I didn't see the letter until it was published, and I'm sure the same is true for hundreds (perhaps even the overwhelming majority) of my fellow Jewish law profs. Usually these things get sent around by one or two people to people they know, and some prominent people.

Now that I think about it, however, a Jewish listserv might save us some time. George Soros will love it. I'll be sure to bring it up at our next world domination meeting!

Posted by: Greg Shill | May 19, 2018 12:32:00 PM

Your comment would have been more interesting if not valuable had you displayed some knowledge of the various strategies and tactics the Palestinians have historically employed in their comparatively long quest for collective self-determination and due recognition of their rights under international law ... or the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, you should attempt to make clear that you understand something of the nature of boycotts as part of the arsenal of non-violent tactics and strategies, and what people have said about the resort to same (the history of which, East and West, is rather intriguing). Zionists privilege "Jewish" voices so it is not surprising that Jewish professors would attempt to articulate a non-standard or less-than-predictable non-Zionist (or non-neo-Zionist) position that dissents from the mainstream and well-known "voice" of the powers-that-be. In as much as the Israeli state is founded on and continues to articulate its political legitimacy and moral or legal justification in terms of its "Jewish" nature (e.g., 'Israel’s declaration of independence mentions the country’s Jewish character more than a dozen times'), it is not surprising these law professors would choose to write such a letter within the constraints of their "Jewish" identity (be it religious or non-religious, i.e., 'ethnic' or cultural). (Incidentally, one could have a state that is a 'homeland for the Jewish people' that is, at the same time, able to accord equal rights in the most robust sense to non-Jews, which is far from the case in Israel today.) Had they not done so, their complaint and appeal would have been summarily dismissed as representative of the "enemies of Israel" or a species of anti-Semitism.

Finally, that a numerical minority of Jewish law professors chose to speak out in this way might more plausibly be read as an exemplary instance of courage and conviction, after all, the "right" position need not be majoritarian, as many dissenting movements in our country will attest: from the opposition to slavery, to women's suffrage, to the fight for civil rights, to anti-militarism, and so forth and so on. On occasion, the beliefs or views of the minority, in time, become part of the majority, in other words, people learn that they may have been mistaken, wrong, deluded, mislead, ignorant, what have you.

[As to Jews being over-represented in the legal academy, that fact, if true, is easy fodder for anti-Semitism, but I happen to think that it is the legacy of hermeneutic and Talmudic traditions of Judaism that, at least in large measure, account for this, and thus such 'over-representation,' as you characterize it, is well-deserved.]

Posted by: Patrick S. O'Donnell | May 19, 2018 3:32:09 AM

Well,once I started that thought, I guess I should finish it. Around a quarter of all law professors in America are Jewish. There are over 4,000 law professors in America. So around 6% of Jewish law professors signed this letter and 94% didn't.

Posted by: Biff | May 18, 2018 11:41:08 AM

1) There are things called countries. Countries have the right to not allow in foreigners who seek to harm them. Promoting boycotts against a country is seeking to harm that country. It is not promoting a dissenting opinion. It is seeking to, and inciting others to, inflict real, actual harm.

2) Unless this professor was not allowed entry due to her Jewishness, I am perplexed by the felt utility of a special letter just from Jewish professors. What special point of view due they bring to bear on this question of Israeli policy? Do they believe that simply by virtue of their Jewish ethnicity they have a special right to opine on Israeli security policy?

On a lighter note, I remember reading that Jews are vastly over-represented in the legal academy. As such,

Posted by: Biff | May 18, 2018 11:31:40 AM

One may read here :

" General Assembly Votes Overwhelmingly to Accord Palestine ‘Non-Member Observer State’ Status in United Nations "



Posted by: El roam | May 17, 2018 7:26:17 PM

Patrick ,

First , you have wasted your time and ours with such senseless comment , and then , facing the counter comment to come , you have lost your patience abruptly !! right ?? How convenient !!

Just for the readers :

There is a sort of downgraded Palestinian state . That is how the UN considers it ( " Member Observer State " ) . As such , you can be :

An Israeli citizen , or Palestinian one . If you are an Israeli citizen or resident , you can't then be at the same time , Palestinian citizen . It is pure and simple . That is the objective parameter . Yet , as emphasized by me , subjectively of course , they consider themselves as Palestinians. For the rest …. Well , ten thousands comments , wouldn't suffice !!

P.S : Zone C , is 60 percent , not 40 percent of the " West bank ".


Posted by: El roam | May 17, 2018 7:22:09 PM

For the record, it is an empirically demonstrable and egregious falsehood (i.e., a lie) to claim that “within the Israeli state, there are no Palestinians.”

Many Arab Israelis rightly “identify as Palestinian and commonly self-designate themselves as Palestinian citizens of Israel or Israeli Palestinians,” among the reasons there is “not one Palestinian school, cultural centre, NGO, or home in Israel that does not remember and commemorate the Nakba.” Hence, and by way of an example, there is the well-known book by Ilan Peleg and Dov Waxman, Israel’s Palestinians: The Conflict Within (Cambridge University Press, 2011).

As Ilan Pappe notes, discriminatory practices and informal policies against these Palestinians has “been legalized by the Knesset, and this is still taking place. The construction of the legal infrastructure for an apartheid state is important for Israel, because its recent governments, including the one elected in [January 2013], believe in a unilateral annexation of Areas C, 40 per cent of the West Bank, as a final act of geographical expansion, even though it adds Palestinians to the overall demographic balance.” (I won’t further respond to assertions to the contrary as it would be a waste of time and a distraction from the original post.)

Posted by: Patrick S. O'Donnell | May 17, 2018 6:44:37 PM

Just clarification or emphasizing it :

The interior minister , may grant such entry , for exceptional reasons, specifically, to such person , supporter of BDS . The exception clause in that law and amendment , refers specifically , to such case of supporter of BDS as such.


Posted by: El roam | May 17, 2018 6:30:15 PM

Interesting indeed. One should just consider , that the Israeli law ( " Entry into Israel law " ) has been amended in 2017 , denying entry to Israel, for a person who would actually support the BDS movement . Here is the amendment , I quote ( not official translation ) here :

“A visa and residence permit of any kind shall not be issued to a person who is not an Israeli citizen or a holder of a permanent residence permit in the State of Israel if he, the organization or body for which he is acting, knowingly published a public call for a boycott of the State of Israel, as defined in the Prevention of Harm to the State of Israel through Boycott Law, 2011, or has undertaken to participate in such a boycott.”

One may read further here ( a law firm site ) :


Yet , the interior minister , may , for exceptional reasons , grant such permission for entry. In such case , of such distinguished professor for law , let alone human rights, educating also Palestinians ( it seems) about " some basic " concerning human rights , well , the benefits , could really exceed any potential damage. Really exaggerated !!

P.S : there is no such animal like " Palestinians within Israel " you can be either an Arab Israeli , or , Palestinian who lives , in the occupied territories . But ,within the Israeli state , there are no Palestinians , although they would consider themselves so , but this is purely subjective of course.


Posted by: El roam | May 17, 2018 6:07:38 PM

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