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Statement UNL on protests against cooperation with Israeli universities

Like everyone else, we are concerned about the conflicts in the world, and also about the current events in Gaza and Israel. The academic community shares the concerns and feelings of sadness, bewilderment and helplessness resulting from this conflict. We sympathise with everyone affected by this. Universities are pre-eminent places for critical questions, dissent and dialogue, especially on this matter. In the period after 7 October, many teach-ins and academic discussions have already been organised at universities on this conflict.

Vandalism and intimidation have no place at a university. Peaceful protest is possible as long as university house rules are followed, the situation remains respectful and safe, and education and research can continue. Universities must be safe learning and working environments for all students and staff. We, therefore, regret that protests in both Amsterdam and Utrecht have not taken place within these rules.

All universities have their own house rules, aimed at maintaining physical and social safety, and, if necessary, enter into consultation with the local safety partners (municipality, police and public prosecutor). The final decision on whether or not to intervene lies is being taken by them. In the UNL context, knowledge and experience on this are exchanged between universities and learning from each other.

Universities are debating whether to make the principles for entering into institutional partnerships explicit. In the context of academic freedom, knowledge exchange, and scientific diplomacy, contact with individual scientists remains valuable even in conflict areas.

This statement of umbrella organisation Universities of the Netherlands was published on Wednesday 8 May on their website, in Dutch.

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