Dr. Katherine Franke, a Professor of Law at Columbia University was leading a 15-member delegation of human rights activists to visit Israel and Palestine to learn about the human rights situation in both locales and to meet local advocates. All of the members of the delegation were allowed entry into Israel with the exception of Dr. Franke and Vince Warren, Director of the New York Center for Constitutional Rights. Both were detained at the airport, denied entry and deported back to New York. Both were detained at the airport for 14 hours before they were returned to the US. Professor Franke was interrogated for over an hour regarding her affiliation with the BDS movement. CCS has written the Minister of Justice in Isarel requesting reconsideration of the situation and an invtation to be extended to Professor Franke to return and continue her work.
May 20, 2018
Minister of Justice
29 Salah al-Din Street
Jerusalem 91010, Israel
Fax: +972 2 640 8402 E
Dear Minister Shaked:
The Committee of Concerned Scientists is an independent organization of scientists, physicians, engineers and scholars devoted to the protection and advancement of human rights and scientific freedom for colleagues all over the world.
We write to express our grave concern about the treatment of Katherine Franke, a Law professor at Columbia University, in the USA, focusing on gender and sexuality law. She, along with Vince Warren, the Executive Director of the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), was detained and denied entry into Israel on April 29, 2018.
They were leading a 15-member delegation of activists, mostly people of color, to visit Israel and Palestine, to learn about the human rights situation, and meet local advocates. Other members of the delegation were allowed entry.
Franke, who is the Chair of CCR’s Board, and Warren were detained for 14 hours at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv and then deported back to New York. Professor Franke faced over an hour of interrogation into her alleged association with the BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) movement.
The rights to travel freely and to freely exchange ideas are cornerstones of academic freedom. Professor Franke has been a mentor in efforts to develop human rights curricula at al-Quds and al-Najah Universities. Her work to support such peaceful, human rights-oriented study should be protected and encouraged, not prevented.
We urge you to reconsider your actions in this case, which were antithetical to both human rights and academic freedom and invite professor Franke back to freely pursue her work.
Thank you for your attention to this serious matter, and we look forward to your response.
Joel L. Lebowitz, Paul H. Plotz, Walter Reich, Eugene M. Chudnovsky, Alexander Greer
Co-Chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists
Embassy of Israel
3514 International Dr. NW
Washington DC 20008
T: 202.364.5500 | F: 1 202 364 5607