Columbia Law Review board nukes website over Palestine article

The conflict within US universities over support for and reporting on the war Israel is waging in Gaza has thrown up another depressing case.

Last November, lawyer Rabea Eghbariah was to be the first Palestinian published in the Harvard Law Review, but he had his essay spiked before it could be published. The editors of the Columbia Law Review stepped in and stepped up, offering Eghbariah a chance to publish a newly updated essay in their journal. The Review’s board of directors intervened, responding not just by censoring the article itself, but by disabling the Review’s entire website. (It currently says, seemingly dishonestly, that it’s “under maintenance”.)

The worst thing is that Eghbariah’s article, which can still be read here, is not some aggressive polemic. It’s a thoughtful, considered, thoroughly researched essay that argues that the experience of the Palestinian people since 1948 is a category of oppression worthy of its own label, “nakba”. Eghbariah argues that it differs from genocide, from apartheid and from colonialism in important ways, ways that the law should recognise – just as it did following the Nuremberg trials, which prompted the recognition of “genocide” as a special category of crime that could exist in addition to “crimes against humanity”, which predated World War II.

Whatever you think of Eghbariah’s argument – I happen to find it extremely persuasive, but others may not – it seems deeply troubling that the Law Review of an Ivy League college would stoop to such naked censorship.