We are Israeli citizens, active against our government's policies of racism, occupation and apartheid. We have learned that the VU University council in Amsterdam has tried to prevent an important panel by the Palesti na forum from taking place. An Israeli citizen, Ronnie Barkan, was also scheduled to take part in the panel. This move by the University demonstrates that it has actively chosen a discriminating manner of behavior, deciding which Israeli speakers are legitimate and which are not.
It is disgraceful that those who claim to be champions of free speech are
attempting to silence an intelligent, humanistic discussion of our
government's apartheid policies, following decades of occupation and ethnic
cleansing, given that it is just six months after this government carried
out a massacre in the Gaza strip, in which 800 children were killed..
Apartheid runs contrary to the proclaimed values of The Netherlands. The
silencing of academic and political discussion of human rights violations
runs contrary to the freedom of speech which Dutch universities endorse.
The argument that the debate was not balanced is ridiculous and
hypocritical. The Dutch public sphere is full of debates on the issue of
Israel, in which no speaker is invited to criticize Israel’s apartheid, war
crimes and calls for sanctions against Israel because of its actions. In
fact, we have just been informed by our Dutch friends, that *Israeli
propaganda outlet* - Centre for Information and Documentation on Israel
(CIDI) - will hold a series of lectures acclaimed by all universities in
the Netherlands. We find it outrageous that Students attending those
lectures will obtain academic credit points by taking part in this act of
It should be noted that the University of Groningen has held an in-depth
discussion with two critical Israeli voices not long ago, as well as
critical Palestinian voices scheduled for an event next week. We commend
the University of Groningen for not caving in to Israeli pressure and
acting as a beacon of light in an otherwise dark and oppressive atmosphere
that aims at the silencing of critics, such as the case of VU.
We would like to affirm our support for holding Israeli war criminals
accountable for their actions at the ICC in The Hague, and our insistence
that the many crimes Israel is responsible for will reach international
tribunals. The struggle for Palestinian rights is also the struggle to
uphold the most elementary value expressed in international conventions of
As Israeli citizens, we shall continue to support those who inform the
Dutch public of Israeli apartheid's crimes and of European complicity in
these crimes. We will also monitor attempts to silence this discussion, and
call out those McCarthyite forces who are involved in such attempts.
BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within -