'UU's silence is unacceptable'

Let a powerful voice be heard showing solidarity for Palestinians

palestinademo in utrecht foto X - Utrechtse socialisten

Dear ExecutiveBboard,

Israel is controlling all of Gaza’s outside borders, except for a small part between Gaza and Egypt. As such, that part is also responsible for delivering food, electricity and fuel. After the Hamas attack on October 7, Israel has cut off all these deliveries.

For years, the Palestinians in Gaza righteously fought against all blockades. Every now and then, there are tiny slivers of hope, because the Palestinians use the leftover spaces to literally survive. The Palestinians are forced to come up with creative ways to deal with the Israeli blockades. The occupation has caused shortages of basic needs, like food and fuel. Israel has also obstructed Gaza’s long-term economic development potential. Chronic issues, like access to education, health care and clean water, have worsened.

As the circumstances in Gaza continue to deteriorate, the Palestinians grow more determined. They are fighting for their dignity and refuse to succumb to these daily humiliations. For more than 16 years, the residents of Gaza have had no freedom of movement. They can leave through checkpoints controlled by Israel if they have an Israeli work permit or, in rare cases, when they’ve received special permission from Israel to receive medical treatment for life-threatening ailments in the occupied West Bank. They need a visa to travel to another part of the world, and that’s hard for stateless people to obtain. They also have to make it through the random decisions made by the Egyptian government to close the border at Rafah, thereby denying Palestinians access to Egypt. This is the bleak reality.

No winners in a war
Everyone abhors the lives lost on both sides. Everyone condemns the brutal Hamas attack that has caused so many deaths. There are no winners in a war, just look at the innocent civilians who have fallen. Still, prominent people in Dutch society are condemning this war in a one-sided way.

I grew up with injustice. I‘ve been talking about the occupation for years. I tell my friends that the Palestinians are trapped like rats. “We can’t do anything about it,” I hear in response. But have we forgotten how regular Palestinian civilians are the victims of this occupation? Have we forgotten how many people have lost their lives?

I abhor the silence of my university, why isn’t there a powerful counter-sound? Again – everyone abhors the many Israeli citizens who were brutally murdered, but isn’t the state of Israel indirectly responsible for this suffering?

Two-state solution
I recently read an enlightening article about the great Yeshayahu Leibowitz. A great thinker, who predicted what could happen years ago. He warned of the dangers of idolising sovereignty and military power. For Leibowitz, divine claims to land equal a form of tyranny, or as he calls it, “Judeo-fascism”. On the other hand, Leibowitz calls for what’s known as a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That’s based on the idea that just as the Jews cannot deny the existence of the Palestinians, the Palestinians cannot deny the existence of the Jewish people either.

Unfortunately, a two-state solution now seems like a distant, fading memory. Around 2005, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quit in protest against the Israeli retreat from the occupied Gaza strip. Since then, right-wing governments, including the current one led by Netanyahu again, have focused more on managing the conflict rather than finding a long-term solution through peace negotiations. Thinking about Leibowitz, I fear Netanyahu is out to raze Gaza to the ground, with all the consequences that will entail.

I can’t peacefully sleep at night and I think that the quiet, weak tone of my university is unacceptable. We have amazing academics who can find much better words for this than I can. Where are they?

I call for a powerful voice in solidarity for the Palestinians. For years, we’ve looked the other way because we gave everything to Israel, and rightly so. But let’s also mention and strongly condemn what Israel is doing now — not tomorrow, but immediately.

I want to voice my solidarity with the Palestinians and, for that reason, I ask UU's Executive Board to condemn the violence.

A concerned student.


Tags: Palestina | israel