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German research institute fires professor over criticizing Israel

Pro-Palestine Ghassan Hage was a visiting professor of anthropology at the Max Planck Society in Germany.

A German research institute has terminated the contract of a pro-Palestine professor of anthropology after criticizing the Israeli regime’s ongoing war on the Gaza Strip.

The Max Planck Society said they had severed their relationship with “highly acclaimed” academic Ghassan Hage over a set of social media posts that they said were “incompatible” with the society’s values, media reported this week.

The leading German research institution added that “racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, discrimination, hatred, and agitation have no place in the Max Planck Society.”

The Lebanese-Australian Melbourne University professor, who had posted a series of pro-Palestine posts on social media condemning the Israeli regime forces’ months-long genocidal war on Palestinians in Gaza, criticized the Max Planck Institute for its decision to sever its ties with him over his support for peace.

He said he could live with being characterized as having “incompatible values” with the German institution; however, “implying that I am a racist, I cannot accept.”

I will soon issue my own statement.

I would have lived with the first part re incompatibility. But finishing with ‘there is no place for racism’ implying that i am a racist, I cannot accept.

Statement of the Max Planck Society about Prof. Ghassan Hage

— Ghassan Hage (@anthroprofhage) February 7, 2024

Since the Israeli regime launched the genocidal war on Gaza in early October, Germany has seen an escalating crackdown on pro-Palestinian advocacy, with rallies and Palestinian flags banned in many parts of the country.

Events and rallies where pro-Palestinian speeches were held have been banned in schools, and the traditional keffiyeh scarfs are also barred.

Samidoun, a group that advocates for Palestinian prisoners, was banned in the immediate aftermath of the 7 October attack.

Pro-Palestinian voices have also been widely silenced with cultural institutions reporting pressure to cancel events featuring groups critical of Israel.

The Frankfurt Book Fair canceled a planned award ceremony for the Palestinian author Adania Shibli in October.

Oyoun Cultural Institution’s state funding was cut in November after hosting an event for a Jewish-led organization that supported the BDS movement against Israel, a movement that Germany’s Bundestag classified as anti-Semitic in 2019.

Also, pro-Palestine British playwright, Caryl Churchill, was stripped on October 31 of the European Drama Prize she had received in April in recognition of her life’s work, over her support for Palestine.

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