Criticism of Utrecht University of Applied Sciences for postponing a lecture series on the Holocaust

The Utrecht University of Applied Sciences at the Utrecht Science Park

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Utrecht University of Applied Sciences (HU) is being criticized for postponing a series of lectures on the Holocaust. This was supposed to start on February 7, but according to the school, this is not justified for safety reasons.

Those involved say yes The Telegraph that the university has yielded to pressure from an action group. The lecture series is given in collaboration with CIDI, the Center for Information and Documentation Israel. The pro-Palestinian action group New Neighbors, among others, had objected to it at the HU.

“We received a call from the HU on Friday morning with the announcement that due to all the commotion, the lecture series will be stopped for the time being,” CIDI director Naomi Mestrum told NOS. The CIDI was told that “in the light of October 7, it was examined whether the social discussion could be broadened.”

The HU also had a meeting with New Neighbors and others who had objections on Friday. From correspondence seen by News hour it indeed appears that on the same day, prior to that conversation, the decision had already been made to postpone the series of lectures, in response to mounting criticism.

‘Security situation has changed’

The educational institution today issued a new statement stating that the lectures have been postponed “because the safety of speakers, students, teachers and visitors cannot be guaranteed at this time”.

When asked, a HU spokesperson said that the school “has received signals that the security situation has changed.” He does not want to give more details. The college states that the lectures will be given at a later time, that the educational institution makes its own decisions and will not be guided by interest groups or activists.

Mestrum of the CIDI finds it striking that the university is now making safety its main argument. This was apparently discussed with CIDI a week and a half ago. “I see this reaction as panic.” She believes that the HU shows that “threats and intimidation work”.

Important task

The municipality of Utrecht says it is in discussions with the HU and other parties involved to see “how we can manage the lecture series in the future”. Minister Dijkgraaf of Education also intervenes in the issue, he states that education about the Holocaust is and remains important.

“There is no discussion about that and it is completely separate from the tensions caused by the conflict in the Middle East. I urgently call on education administrators to continue to fulfill that important task, even when it is difficult.”

Relevant perspectives

The pro-Palestinian New Neighbors finds it “irresponsible and very questionable” that the HU collaborates with the CIDI. That organization “defends Israel’s war crimes,” the action group writes on social media. “CIDI will therefore never be neutral and will never be able to provide meaningful education with all relevant perspectives.”

But the CIDI dismisses that as nonsense. “It also completely escapes us what the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has to do with a lecture series on the Holocaust and anti-Semitism,” the interest group says. against news site Trajectuman independent news site that writes about the HU.

The HU itself contributes the announcement of the series indeed, there is an explicit connection between ideas about the Holocaust on the one hand and the need to offer these lectures now. The lectures are open to HU teachers and students and to Friends of the CIDI, who pay a reduced admission fee.

Yielded

Two HU employees who spoke to De Telegraaf believe that the school board has yielded to the action group. “This even seems anti-Semitic to me,” says one teacher. “If you let current events dictate history education in this way, then something is completely wrong.”

VVD leader Yesilgöz also calls the situation on X incomprehensible:

Yesterday, New Neighbors reported on Instagram that the HU has “canceled” the lecture series. The message says that “speaking out works.”

Reactions to the post vary widely. One says it is scandalous that the school “wanted to make this possible”. The other says that the action group in particular should be “ashamed of itself”.

The post first appeared on nos.nl

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