Protesters camp at Columbia University in April. Mary Altaffer/Pool/Getty Images
Protesters camp at Columbia University in April. Mary Altaffer/Pool/Getty Images

Columbia Law Review website taken down after publishing a story criticizing Israel

The website for the Columbia Law Review is no longer accessible following the publication of an article critical of Israel that the publication’s board said did not go through the proper review process.

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At issue is the publication of an article that said Palestinians are living under a “brutally sophisticated structure of oppression” by Israel.

The board of directors for the Columbia Law Review said in a statement obtained by CNN that the website has been “temporarily suspended” because the “piece had not been subject to the usual processes of review or selection for article.” The website has been offline since Monday, with a message that it’s “under maintenance” when visited as of Wednesday morning. The New York Times was first to report the outage and the board’s statement.

The Columbia Law Review Association is an independent nonprofit organization with its own board of directors, and it is not governed by Columbia University or its law school.

The board said it asked the student editors on Sunday to open up the review of the article so “all student editors would have an opportunity to read the piece, raise any questions or concerns, and otherwise engage.”

“We thought that was necessary in fairness to student editors who had not been part of the group working on the piece and were not previously aware of the piece’s content or even its existence. Whatever your views of this piece, it will clearly be controversial and potentially have an impact on all associated with the Review,” the statement said.

The piece was published Monday, despite the board saying it had asked for a delay in publishing until June 7 pending more review.

“We also would like to get the website back up as soon as possible, as having it down is now preventing access to the Review’s scholarship,” it said.

The article that sparked the controversy was written by Rabea Eghbariah, a doctoral candidate at Harvard University. He argues that a new legal concept called Nakba is needed to describe more accurately the current condition of Palestinians. It derives from “al-Nakba,” which Palestinians have used to refer to the 1948 establishment of Israel, and means “catastrophe” in Arabic.

“The attempt to silence my legal scholarship on the Nakba by shutting down the entire Columbia Law Review website is not only reflective of a pervasive and anti-intellectual Palestine exception to academic freedom but is also a testament to a culture of Nakba denialism,” Eghbariah said in a statement to CNN.

“The intervention by the CLR Board of Directors exposes, once again, that US academic institutions are, in fact, a very hostile environment for Palestinian voices and thought. What is so scary about Palestinians speaking their truth?”

It’s the latest flashpoint for Columbia University that has grappled with demonstrations from pro-Palestinian protesters who put up encampments on the school’s grounds protesting Israel’s war in Gaza. On Tuesday, it settled a lawsuit from a Jewish student that said the school failed provide a safe environment.

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