In Brief | 03/06/2024

GIGA Statement on the Gaza War and Academic Freedom

  • The GIGA has aligned itself with the Statement of the Alliance of Science Organisations in Germany of 12 October that unequivocally condemned the Hamas terror attack of 7 October 2023 on Israel, its hostage taking, sexual violence, and massacres of civilians.

    In the meantime, the humanitarian conditions suffered by Gazans, including from large-scale bombardment, mass displacement, and the collective punishment of civilians have continued to worsen. There is credible evidence of Israel curtailing emergency aid and Hamas using civilian infrastructure for military purposes, both leading to increased casualties among civilians. We deplore the civilian death toll in this conflict and the continuous lack of a political solution.

    Covering these events requires both academic freedom and freedom of speech more generally. However, these rights find themselves increasingly under threat due to the polarised debate around the matters to hand. Voices that express solidarity with Palestinians, demand a ceasefire, or criticise Israeli occupation policies are sometimes reflexively disqualified as antisemitic. There have also been instances of antisemitic symbols, threats, and indeed violence being used by some protestors who claimed to be pro-Palestinian. Scholars and students who themselves are Jewish or have ties to Israel have also faced harassment, threats, and delegitimation, including demands for acts of collective retribution such as academic and cultural boycotts of Israel.

    The GIGA’s leadership team remains committed to guaranteeing both academic freedom and the freedom of expression at large. These rights are a necessary precondition for open scientific debate, including a thorough, sober, and nuanced analysis of the Gaza conflict – or any other relevant events that deserve the equal attention of academia and the general public alike.

    Democratic rights such as the freedoms of assembly, speech, and expression must be unequivocally and rigorously upheld. At the same time, incitement of hatred and the glorification of violence are red lines that must never be crossed. For the GIGA’s leadership team, academic freedom and freedom of expression do not constitute, as such, free passes for any kind of extremism and intolerance. We reject in particular antisemitism, Muslimophobia, and racism as well as any other form of group-based hostility.


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