According to one of the demonstrators, who wishes to remain anonymous, EUC students made the banners and the protest is a collaboration involving students at the EUR, the Willem de Kooning Academy and the Piet Zwart Institute. One of the banners is a replica of the one that used to hang on the façade of that institute. “What one of the banners makes clear is that the Palestinian struggle unites us,” says the demonstrator.
A photo on Twitter shows that the door to the balcony from which the banners are hanging is open. Three banners are hanging from the balcony. They were then taken away after a short while.
On Tuesday afternoon, the demonstrators distributed a statement in which they called for universities to boycott the Israeli ‘apartheid regime’. In the statement, they refer to an earlier boycott that Dutch universities called for against the South African apartheid regime. “As a result of decades of discriminatory government policies, the Israeli government violently segregates Palestinians, prevents them from living and travelling, imposes restrictions on their formal political rights, and by doing so engages in collective punishment, criminal arrests and the detention of children,” they write.
Dean Gabriele Jacobs of Erasmus University College was not yet aware of the protest when EM called her up for a comment. The banners disappeared from the building an hour after the call ended. Jacobs explains that university policy does not allow buildings to be used for political statements. “But I don’t want to hide behind rules. As the EUC, we believe that neutrality is important. And you can also ask what neutrality means in a violent situation like this, but the important thing is that we can have inclusive and open discussions. If we choose a side by leaving these banners hanging, we are blocking those open debates,” Jacobs said.
She had not been in touch with the students involved in the protest. “I spoke to everyone outside, but none of them were involved.” She is very keen to speak to the students. “This topic is of course already part of various subjects at EUC; this is a very important topic for us.”
Similar protest at Willem de Kooning
Last week, a similar protest was held at the Willem de Kooning Academy. That school also removed the banners. The students involved did not understand this. “The school should be ashamed of itself. Hundreds of children and innocent people are being murdered. You are complicit if you don’t speak out against it,” said initiator and Willem de Kooning Academy student, Denisse Vega de Santiago in various media.