Received letter

‘Good that universities stand behind academic freedom’

Ido Ninburg thinks that it is good that universities in the Netherlands do not want to sever ties with academic institutions in Israel. However, something important is missing in the universities’ statement.

The 15 universities in the Netherlands issued a statement (in Dutch) on 7 June saying that they will not sever academic ties with academic institutions in Israel. It is good that universities stand behind academic freedom.

An important issue that often goes unnoticed is that there are various projects on which Israeli and Palestinian academics and students work together. Not only do these projects advance scientific progress, but they also help in emancipating the Palestinian community. Anyone who supports Palestinians should encourage these projects instead of calling for a boycott.

Academic links are priceless in various areas. Dutch universities work closely together on cancer research, which benefits the whole world. Israeli institutions lead the way in this area. Our cancer researchers in the Netherlands can benefit from the expertise and experience of the leading role that this ‘start-up nation’ plays in cancer research.

We should not forget how essential academic freedom is

We should not forget how essential academic freedom is. This freedom enables researchers to carry out their research and innovate without fear of repercussions. It is a critical motivating factor for science and a basic right that must be protected. The Dutch universities rightly state that the academic freedom of individual academics as well as of institutions is the most important thing in the current situation.

By adhering to these principles, the universities not only practice their core values, but support a more just, innovative and progressive world.

But something is mission from the universities’ statement. It is important that the safety of Jewish and Israeli students and academics is safeguarded. It is crucial that the academic freedom also entails a safe learning and working environment for everyone, regardless of their backgrounds. Universities should take clear and effective measures to address anti-Semitism and intimidation.

Emotions can run high, and this is understandable when we see the terrible images of the war and the suffering. Demonstrating is a basic right, but it is not acceptable that a section of the academic community is intimidated.

Ido Ninburg is an Architecture and the Built Environment student.

Writer Opinie

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