Backlash grows over Germany investigating academics for pro-Palestinian support

Germany debates ministry's probe into cutting funds for academics backing students protesting Israel's war on Gaza

14:55 - 15/06/2024 Cumartesi
File photo
File photo

The German government is facing growing backlash over an Education and Research Ministry investigation targeting academics who supported pro-Palestinian student protesters.

Carlos A., a postgraduate student at the Free University of Berlin, told Anadolu that when news of the investigation broke it became clear why the German academic world has remained silent over Israel's brutal war on Gaza and pro-Palestinian demonstration sweeping across campuses.

"The heads of the faculties are not saying anything. The professors almost never speak out, they are afraid of something. Now we see what they are afraid of,” he said.

“After some of their fundings were cut, we have evidence that this is not paranoia. This is very clear," he added.

Carlos A. said he expected Germany to comply with certain humanitarian and educational standards. He emphasized the importance of academic freedom in Germany and said: "When you create a space where you cannot discuss without academic freedom, you enable the dehumanization of the people involved. Isn't that another form of complicity?"

He also highlighted the importance of academic freedom to foster innovation and gain alternative perspectives on understanding the world.

Carlos A., however, pointed out that academic freedom is in crisis globally, not just in Germany or Europe.

He then underlined their seven-month effort to condemn German "complicity" in Israel's "genocide" in Palestine.

"We tried to raise awareness, particularly at universities and academia, about raising critical voices against Israel's actions in Palestine and the ongoing genocide. We also tried to raise awareness about the constant dehumanization and the suppression of pro-Palestinian voices," he added.

He said that they protested Israel's attacks on Gaza by setting up a tent on the Free University of Berlin campus, but faced a quick police response on request by the authorities.

"Many professors signed an open letter in solidarity with the students, especially against the police entering the campus. In response, the Education Ministry is considering ways to cut the funding of the faculty members who signed the letter, citing potential legal and constitutional concerns,” Carlos A. added.

He said that although the administration's behavior was not unexpected, the students have condemned them for months.

“There have been many cases of professors being defunded or openly censored. This is a very problematic situation because we believe that academic freedom standards must be respected to protect and guarantee Germany's academic autonomy,” the student said.

He criticized Germany's stance on the war in Gaza, terming it problematic. "We also condemn this attitude. Germany's historic guilt should not justify its support for Israel today," he said.

“They provide (Israel) legal support in the International Court of Justice case and yes, these are forms of Germany's complicity. It also plays an active role in the ongoing genocide. That's what we are trying to say," said Carlos A.

Israel's brutal war on Gaza has killed over 37,200 Palestinians since the Oct. 7 Hamas incursion and reduced most of the narrow, coastal enclave to wasteland.

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