On the evening of 10 January, a packed hall at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, hosted the third international conference of Scientists for Palestine, a global initiative working to support Palestinian scientists, particularly those inside occupied Palestine. Drawing scientists from around the world, including nine scientists from Palestine – although those in Gaza were barred from leaving the besieged Strip – the conference highlighted the current situation of Palestinian scientists as well as the role of scientists internationally in providing meaningful academic support and solidarity.
The scientists from Gaza were not the only ones forcibly absent from the proceedings, however. Ubai Aboudi, Executive Director of the Bisan Center for Research and Development, one of the convening organizations of the conference, was held in Israeli jails and denied the ability to be part of the conference he worked to organize. He had planned to present his research on the Israeli occupation’s suppression and inhibition of Palestinian scientific development.
Ubai Aboudi, born and raised in Bloomington, Indiana, is a close partner of Scientists for Palestine and a Palestinian American U.S. citizen living in Palestine. In the early morning hours of 13 November 2019, a dozen armed Israeli occupation soldiers invaded his family home in Kufr Aqab, taking him away from his wife and three small children, Khaled (5), Ghassan and Basel (3-year-old twins).
Ubai was ordered to administrative detention without charge or trial and has since been brought before an Israeli military court, which convicts 99.74% of Palestinians on the basis of Israeli military orders. While the Israeli apartheid regime may have wished to isolate him, Ubai’s presence and voice was heard loud and clear at the Scientists for Palestine international conference.
Hind Shraydeh, Ubai’s wife and a human rights defender in her own right, addressed the conference via video. She welcomed the attendees on behalf of her husband and highlighted the situation of Palestinian prisoners, including ongoing severe torture and violations of international law. She discussed how she was forbidden from bringing books to her husband and how the prisoners were denied family visits in retaliation for advocating for their fellow Palestinians denied medical treatment.
“Ubai firmly believes in standing up for justice and solidarity even if it is to his own detriment. Despite everything, Ubai remains in good spirits and optimistic about the future of science in a free Palestine,” she concluded.
Watch the video here:
Many prominent scientists, including Nobel Prize winner George Smith and Noam Chomsky, have signed a statement urging Ubai Aboudi’s release and demanding the U.S. State Department take action to protect this imprisoned Palestinian U.S. citizen. At the Scientists for Palestine organizing meeting on Sunday, participants emphasized the need to continue public advocacy for his freedom.
Sign on to the petition to free Ubai Aboudi here: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/end-the-detention-of-ubai-aboudi