The Utrecht teacher training programmes were organising the lectures together with the Centre for Information and Documentation Israel (CIDI). They were to be held in February and March, but have now been put off until a later date.

Last week, action group New Neighbours Utrecht voiced strong criticism of the lectures because of the CIDI’s involvement. “This way, the CIDI is clawing its way into education”, the activists claimed.

The CIDI starkly supports Israel and the bombing of Gaza. It places the blame for the war with Hamas, which attacked Israel on 7 October, and also defends the settlement policy.


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'Total madness'

But does that have anything to do with education about the holocaust and the danger of antisemitism? The CIDI says it’s ‘total madness’ that the lectures are being postponed. “Unworthy of academia and utterly cowardly! Yet another example of harassment and threats paying off.”

According to HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, more time is needed to ‘organise a diverse and balanced dialogue about these topics, given the current dynamics’. ‘Safety reasons’ are also reported to be involved.

Various politicians have condemned the decision. VVD party leader Dilan Yeşilgöz, for instance, writes on X that killing six million Jews doesn’t have anything to do with a ‘diverse and balanced’ dialogue. “Whoever wants to nuance that is in need of a history lesson themselves. What a disgrace.”

Caroline van der Plas (BBB) wants to ask the cabinet oral questions about HU University’s decision on Tuesday. Pieter Omtzigt (NSC) wonders whether the university of applied sciences has lost its moral compass.

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Outgoing Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf has also weighed in on the issue. He has called for education to keep devoting attention to the horrors of the Holocaust, ‘even when it is difficult’. After all, the topic continues to be important. “That is not subject to debate and is completely separate of the tensions caused by the conflict in the Middle East.”

The university of applied sciences believes the criticism isn’t justified. The lectures will take place, they counter, ‘but simply at a later time’. The university of applied sciences says it’s not guided by pressure exerted by interest groups or activists. “The suggestion that we connect education about the Holocaust to the current tensions we reject emphatically”, says President of the Executive Board Wilma Scholte op Reimer.

'100 per cent in favour of education'

In a response, the activists of New Neighbours Utrecht state that they are in favour of human rights and equality, as well as ‘100 per cent in favour of education about the Holocaust and antisemitism’. Their criticism is only said to relate to the collaboration with the CIDI.