Creating new perspectives since 2009

Renowned scholar slams German academic censorship after being fired for criticising Israel

February 9, 2024 at 5:34 pm

Demonstrators gather at the Alexanderplatz Square and march through the city center to show solidarity with Palestinians and protest Israel’s ongoing attacks in Berlin, Germany on January 27, 2024 [Halil Sagirkaya/Anadolu via Getty Images]

Ghassan Hage, an internationally renowned scholar, slammed German academic institutions for suppressing criticism of Israel, after he was suddenly fired over allegations of anti-Semitic social media posts, Anadolu Agency reports.

“What to me is a fair, intellectual critique of Israel, for them is anti-Semitism, according to the law in Germany,” he said in a statement late Thursday.

“I find the German’s pseudo philosemitism self-serving and, at times, racist, instrumentalised to racialise the Palestinian and, more generally, the Arab and Muslim community in Germany,” he stressed.

The Lebanese-Australian scientist was fired by The Max Planck Society, a leading German research institution, after local media published various controversial reports accusing him of disseminating anti-Semitic propaganda.

Hage strongly rejected the accusation and said he has always defended the peaceful co-existence of Jews, Muslims and Christians, and criticised both Israelis and Palestinians who work against this goal.

OPINION: Why Palestinians must be criminalised so Europe can feel better about its history

“I have a political ideal that I have always struggled for regarding Israel/Palestine. It is the ideal of a multi-religious society made from Christians, Muslims and Jews living together on that land,” the scholar said.

“If Israel has copped and continues to cop the biggest criticism, it is because its colonial ethno-nationalist project is, by far, the biggest obstacle towards achieving such a goal. This is also true of my social media posts,” he added.

The scholar said the right-wing media started a campaign against him by taking some of his social media posts out of their context. He said the reports against him were like a “fascistic ideological assassination” job.

Expressing his sadness over the Max Planck Society’s decision, Hage also said there was nothing surprising about what happened, as such incidents have become common recently in the German academic and intellectual landscape.

He criticised the managers of the Max Planck Society for failing to defend scholars and academic freedom.

“The fact that this intellectual world I was part of can be destroyed so easily and that the managers of academic institutions run scared and let it happen, rather than defend the vitality of the academic space under their management is a real tragedy,” he said.

The Max Planck Society said, in a statement on Wednesday, that they have parted ways with scholar Ghassan Hage following his recent comments about Israel and Gaza.

“Many of the views recently disseminated by Ghassan Hage via social media are incompatible with the fundamental values ​​of the Max Planck Society. The Max Planck Society has, therefore, parted ways with him in agreement with the Institute,” the Society said.

Hage had been working as a visiting Professor at the Max Planck Institute of Social Anthropology in Halle since April 2023.

READ: Muslims concerned about rise of Islamophobia in Germany