Israel-Hamas: EB and deans TU Delft call for immediate ceasefire

Given the development of the conflict between Hamas and Israel since 7 October, rulings by the International Court of Justice, signals that colleagues and students no longer feel safe, and protests at universities, the TU Delft Executive Board and deans feel the need to express their concerns about the situation in Gaza and Israel.

We find the human suffering caused by the violence between Israel and Hamas appalling. We share the feelings of sadness, bewilderment and helplessness. We condemn all violations of humanitarian law of war, and hope that this conflict ends as soon as possible. We reject any form of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. We endorse International Court of Justice rulings and UN Security Council resolutions calling on Israel to stop the famine in Gaza, urging Hamas to release all’hostages and calling for an immediate ceasefire.

Collaboration with Israel and Gaza

Demonstrations on our campus have been peaceful so far. Our conversations with activists are respectful. They deserve credit for this. That said, we have different views on partnerships. Ending or freezing all contacts with a country’s educational institutions does not offer a solution. We believe it is important to stay in dialogue with students and colleagues from conflict areas, as it is they who can contribute to change.

Within TU Delft, the Knowledge Safety team advises whether a particular collaboration is permissible and/or desirable. As TU Delft, we obviously comply with Dutch and European legislation. Knowledge safety then involves issues such as dual use, but within our knowledge safety assessment framework, human rights and ethical aspects are also explicitly considered.

For collaborations that provoke social debate, TU Delft has previously established a so-called moral deliberation. In it, issues are highlighted from various angles. We therefore also want to organise a moral deliberation on how to guarantee that collaborations entered into by TU Delft go hand in hand with international law, both in letter and in spirit.

We decided not to publish a list of collaborations with one individual country because we are concerned about the social safety of scientists and students involved, a risk that is not inconceivable given the way the current social debate is raging. On the publicly accessible website CORDIS anyone can look up which partners from which countries TU Delft collaborates with in European research projects.

As an academic institution, we are very concerned about the destruction of academic infrastructure in Gaza. Precisely because scientists and students can make such a vital contribution to positive change. We will therefore do our utmost to explore ways in which TU Delft can contribute to rebuilding the educational and academic infrastructure. In this regard, we are open to suggestions, and will join other universities/UNL in advocating that OCW also make efforts in this regard.

Open approach of university

From various quarters, we are called upon to take a (political) stand for or against one of the parties involved. In our opinion, such a stance does not suit us as a university. As an academic institution, we want to remain in dialogue with academic institutions from other countries, unless the government explicitly prohibits Dutch universities from doing so, for instance by imposing sanctions. We want to continue to provide space for our staff and students to share insights and information, raise concerns and share opinions, within the existing framework of co-determination. Because they are about topics that affect us, these can be difficult, uncomfortable and/or painful conversations. In doing so, we consider it essential that TU Delft is and remains a safe place for all’our students and staff, regardless of their origin, background or political beliefs. We encourage and facilitate independent thinking, critical debate and analysis, in the hope that this results in solutions, innovations and ideas on how to do things differently. We also encourage our scientists to share their expertise with society as they play an important role in interpreting the ongoing conflict.

We appreciate the involvement of students and staff who continue to draw attention to this issue in various ways. We are glad that the conversation is and will continue to be had in various places within the university. We ask our community to engage in conversation with consideration and respect for each other from person to person. There is always room within TU Delft for difference of opinion, for different scientific perspectives and for personal feelings. Calls for hatred, violence, intimidation or calls that otherwise transgress those frameworks of open society obviously do not fit in here. Having and continuing an open conversation with each other is especially important as tensions within universities mount.

Guideline for protests at Universities of the Netherlands

Demonstrating and protesting is part of our democracy. As Executive Board and deans, we will of course continue to respect peaceful protests surrounding the situation in Israel and Gaza. Occupying a building or grounds does not count as demonstrating/protesting and is not allowed, nor is staying overnight in buildings or grounds of the university without permission. This is in line with the UNL directive released on 14 May.

Tim van der Hagen, Marien van der Meer, and Rob Mudde (Executive Board).

Stefan Aarninkhof (Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences), Caspar Chorus (Faculty of Industrial Design), Dirk van Gameren (Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment), Aukje Hassoldt (Faculty of Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management), Paulien Herder (Faculty of Applied Sciences), Fred van Keulen (Faculty of Aerospace Engineering), Lucas van Vliet (Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics & Computer Science).