TU/e community responses to Open Letter

Last week, an online open letter demanded that the Executive Board (EB) should show solidarity with Palestine and take a stand. Therefore, Cursor made an appeal to readers: do you think the EB should take a stand? Find the responses below.

Due to the large number of responses received, the editorial staff made a selection and, for the sake of readability, shortened some texts. 

Actions Palestinians swept under the rug

The best description I have for this letter is a “virtue signal.”  The current lawsuit before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has not established that genocide is plausibly taking place. What it did say is that the court wants to be on the safe side and allow the lawsuit to go forward because there is some indication that the right of protection against a genocide may not be adequately guaranteed. 

That this distinction is not made by the signatories of the letter leads me to conclude that they themselves have already made up their minds and consider Israel guilty. And this is just a small rewriting of history in the letter where only Israel's actions are looked at and the actions of the Palestinians are swept under the rug. 

Conclusion: a letter based on false assumptions and demands that no one will actually benefit from.

Boris Knepper, Student

When Ukraine was invaded, TU/e was a political institution

The situation is dire. Everyday, we watch innocent people being butchered and starved in the most horrific ways, live-streamed on our phones. So far, an estimated 40,000 people, of whom 70% are children and women, have been killed in carpet bombings, their lives reduced to mere 'collateral damage'. The ICJ ruling the ongoing massacre as plausible genocide.

Back in 2022, when Russia invaded Ukraine and similar images of wounded and killed civilians emerged, there was a worldwide uproar from government leaders. TU/e quickly responded by raising the Ukrainian flag and establishing funds and support systems for students and staff. Rightfully so.

The EB's current claim that TU/e is not a political institution and should remain neutral is therefore contradictory to their previous actions and reveals a case of hypocrisy, which, in itself, is a stance. Now, many expect the same treatment and the same support.

Eslem Karakoç, Student

Politically neutral science

It is unfortunate that politics is slowly starting to play a bigger role on campus. The main goal of the university is to educate a new generation in beta studies. Science must be completely politically neutral to function properly and should be accessible to everyone in the world. This means that all doors should remain open, regardless of the unpredictable actions of political leaders.

By choosing a side between Russia and Ukraine, the university has shot itself in the foot. After all, the valuable neutrality has been broken but should not be taken as an example for the future conduct of similar situations.

I would like to remind fellow students that choosing a side is not an obligation and it should not be a taboo to distance oneself from such situations. Let's use the university as an incubator for innovative ideas regarding engineering. 

M.M.T.B. van Dijk, Student

Silence speaks volumes

I have seen the true measure of 'humanity' in the silence of those who claim neutrality, abstaining from taking a stance. Their silence speaks volumes, echoing the tacit approval of injustice.

Eda Demir, Student

No place for antisemitism

The EB should not respond to the letter at all because of the disgusting virulent antisemitic rhetoric it is drenched in, and the slew of historical and factual errors it contains. The EB should definitely not address the completely mind-blowing demands including the unacceptable call for limiting research groups’ academic freedom by cutting all ties with Israeli institutes.

If the TU/e EB would take a stand, the only appropriate one would be that there is no place for antisemitism at TU/e and that it supports academic freedom.

Roy van der Meel, Employee

Defending Palestine does not equal antisemitism

The inaction and silence of TU/e, as that of many other Western institutions, with regards to the atrocities committed by Israel in Gaza and the occupied Palestinian territories is a real-life playout of many pages of human history, when incredible atrocities have been committed with little to no reaction from the vast majority. It is simply much more convenient to mind your own business and not speak up, because those who are able to commit great injustices are usually in a position of power.

To the ones claiming that defending Palestinians is antisemitic: if this was being done to Jews now, we would be the ones trying to protect them, and you would be the ones hiding behind your weaponized neutrality, while striking the next economic deal with the perpetrators.

Irene (full name known by the editorial staff), Employee

They’re both indigenous to the land

Personally, I believe that the current conflict is between two peoples that, despite their differences in religion, are both indigenous to the Palestinian/Israeli land. This means that, unless we want to deport/eliminate either the entire Palestinian or Jewish population of the land, the only solution is a situation where both peoples come together in one country, where both the liberal freedom that exists in Israel and the human rights of Palestinians are respected.

This might seem far fetched, but don’t forget that the German people, only ten years after exterminating six million jews, had good relations and religious freedom for Jews.

This is why I think the response of the EB is good; we cannot import the division that will keep the conflict alive to our university, but use our distance from it to come together as Israelis, Palestinians and the rest of the academic community.

Levi Baruch, Student

Only the Human Rights Flag

Should TU/e respond to the situation in Palestine/Israel?
My answer is no.

Not because I am not against the genocide that is taking place there right now.
Not because I am not against hamas.
It is because I think the board as a whole should stop taking political positions. So also the flag of Ukraine is a thorn in my side.

The fact there is an ad hoc response, or not, while we have been calling for good policy/a protocol for years. That there seemed to be urgency on this matter, which has bogged down again. I know the flag for “human rights” is being considered. That is the only flag that I believe should be allowed to hang alongside our own.

So, regulate ties with countries; why one country and not the other? Seems to me that this decision should only be made by politicians in The Hague. Let's just focus on education again, we are busy enough with that.

Désy Verkuilen, Employee  

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