Demonstrators raise Palestinian flag on TU/e campus

Demonstrators raised the Palestinian flag today on the TU/e campus. The flag now flies alongside those of Europe, Ukraine and TU/e.

photo Bart van Overbeeke

“It’s a reaction to the university’s continued passivity,” explains today’s spokesperson from the group of demonstrators. Raising the flag turned out to be easier than expected. For this purpose, the Brabant flag, which originally hung there, had to give way. “That was pure coincidence, so this is not an action against Brabant or anything like that.”


The action did not get much reaction. Occasionally, passing students gave a thumbs up in solidarity, but the majority just walked right past. TU/e security was watching it but did not intervene. “They’re kind of ignoring it; the same was true with the camp,” says the spokesperson.

Demonstrators’ demands

In mid-May, pro-Palestine demonstrators set up a camp on the Koeveld. The demonstrators demand, among other things, that the TU/e cut ties with Israeli institutions. They accuse the universities of complicity in genocide in Gaza.

A conversation between the demonstrators at the camp and the Executive Board was to no avail. According to today’s spokesperson, who was also present at the time, it was “not a pleasant conversation”. “Ninety percent of the conversation was listening to the board talk about why the university is not political, and in the last five minutes we also got to have our say. But they didn’t really listen to or respond to that.”  A TU/e spokesperson contradicted this reading. "It was a conversation with input back and forth."

Unpleasant atmosphere

Furthermore, the Executive Board only wanted to speak to students who provided their full first and last names and specified what program they were enrolled in, according to the spokesperson. “It was an unpleasant atmosphere, because you don’t know what personal consequences it’s going to have. People are scared.”

Again, the TU/e spokesperson has another reading. "We asked attendees to introduce themselves, as we did, and asked if they studied at TU/e. This is because we want to engage in conversation with our own community."
Shortly after this conversation, the camp was broken down by the demonstrators themselves, who announced that they would organize other actions to make a greater impact. Since then, there has been a loud protest march every day, each time at a different location on campus. And today, the Palestinian flag was raised.

“Not a political institution”

The Executive Board has announced that it will not cease collaboration with Israeli universities. “This is not a political institution,” the Executive Board stated in mid-May. Last weekend, 15 rectors, including TU/e rector Silvia Lenaerts, reiterated in an opinion piece that they would only sever ties with Israel if the government imposed it, as was the case with Russian universities shortly after the start of the war in Ukraine. 

According to the spokesperson, TU/e cannot claim that it is “not a political institution.” “Nothing is completely unrelated to politics. Besides, they themselves say that they would sever ties if The Hague, i.e. politics, imposed it.”

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