‘UG has links to complicit Hebrew University’

The statement the UG put out last week about its ties to Israeli universities is incorrect, says Ale ten Cate, faction leader of student party Lijst Calimero in the university council.

For the past few months there have been multiple requests for the UG to publish its ties with Israeli universities and institutions. Because of reasons unknown and incomprehensible to me, only last week on Friday the UG put out a statement in which these ties are addressed. In the statement, there is no mention of names of universities and institutions that the UG has ties with. Why not?

Only half an hour of research and you could find for example that the UG has ties with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, via an exchange programme within the Faculty of Religion, Culture and Society.

The statement of the UG says the following: ‘The UG currently has no formal cooperation with institutions in the Palestinian territories.’ But, the Hebrew University has a campus on illegally occupied Palestinian territory, on Mount Scopus to be precise. This region in East-Jerusalem was illegally expropriated from the Palestinian population, after which there was a campus built by the Hebrew University.

We also have to think about the lack of academic freedom, or even academic oppression

Besides the fact that the UG does have ties with institutions on Palestinian territory, the UG has ties with a university that is guilty of facilitating war violence and the eviction of Palestinian people from their territory. Ever since, even before October 7th, the Hebrew University created an army base on its campus. On the official website it boasts the following: ‘Support for the Military: The University provided diverse logistics equipment to several military units.’

Besides the point that we might want to ask ourselves if we want to have ties with a university which is clearly involved and complicit in a war which is causing this large of a humanitarian crisis, we also have to think about the lack of academic freedom, or even academic oppression that scholars are facing in Israeli universities, including the Hebrew University. Palestinian students are known to being silenced in those universities, and the same applies for professors.

The statement of the UG mentions academic dialogue multiple times and the benefits of it, but how is that genuinely possible at a university which actively silences their own scholars or even fires them?

With current calls for divestment and boycotts, we shouldn’t think that this boycott is only just now being called for by scholars and students. Already in 2017, over a hundred international law scholars (including ones from the University of Groningen) called for a boycott of a forum in the occupied region where the Hebrew university is located.

The boycott is not aimed at individual Israeli academics

The academic boycott and demands of the students and staff currently in the Harmony building is supported by experts and academics:

The boycott is not aimed at individual Israeli academics; who are welcome to take action in the fight for Palestinian liberation. They are institutions that need to be boycotted. Because Israeli universities receive special treatment; the EU gives them more funding and exchange opportunities than any Palestinian or Arab university.

But no university board in Israel has objected in any way to the destruction of all eleven Palestinian universities in Gaza, or to the killing of university presidents, deans, lecturers and students. Not a word. Breaking ties is the least the Western academic community can do.

Considering this, we want to ask the board of directors to rethink the ties between the UG and Israeli institutions, in specific that of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Ale ten Cate is chairman of student party Lijst Calimero in de university council



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