Region: Pavia
Image of the petition APPEAL FOR FREEDOM OF CRITICISM OF ISRAEL IN THE UNIVERSITY OF PAVIA
Foreign affairs

APPEAL FOR FREEDOM OF CRITICISM OF ISRAEL IN THE UNIVERSITY OF PAVIA

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Università di Pavia
181 supporters
36% achieved 500 for collection target
181 supporters
36% achieved 500 for collection target
  1. Launched 10/05/2024
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*We are concerned*
The war in the Gaza Strip, with tens of thousands of civilian victims, has caused consternation, discussion
and protests in Pavia as well. Our university, which moreover hosts many students of Middle Eastern origin,
could not fail to be involved in some way. The events in Israel-Palestine affect us and make us question,
indignant and, in some cases, politically mobilised. It would be disturbing if this were not the case.
We are concerned by the level of repression that is being exercised in many western countries against
those who criticise, even if only in words, the policies of the Israeli government and the military operations
of the Israeli army, and the support of many western governments, including that of Italy. And even more
worrying is to see the academic authorities in many of these countries being protagonists of this
repression.
Do we want the University of Pavia to be part of this unacceptable trend?
*Discussion should not be banned*
On May 7th, the University denied the use of the Aula del ‘400 for a public initiative on Palestine planned
for May 16th, proposed by a student association in collaboration with other city associations known for
their pacifist positions (UdU, Arci, and the Antifascist Network, to which they belong). The denial came after
repeated requests for clarification, which were amply provided. The initiative in question (‘Palestine.
History of a people and its resistance’) included a speech by Khader Tamimi, president of the Palestinian
Community of Lombardy.

Reason

Reasons:
Two reasons were given for the rejection: 1) the absence of pluralism; 2) the lack of scientificity of the
speakers. Both reasons are blatantly censorious and illegitimate. Pluralism is guaranteed by the possibility
of public intervention, which is by definition not subject to a prior assessment of sides by the organisers.
First of all, the rooms, obviously under the governance of the University's bodies, nevertheless belong to
the entire academic community, which, as we know, pursuant to Article 1 of the University Statute, is also
made up of students. All the more reason why an entity such as the Coordinamento per il Diritto allo
Studio, which has, by statute and by election, the widest and most consolidated representation of the
student component of the university, cannot be subjected to censorial obstacles in the performance of its
institutional activity. An activity that is intrinsically ‘partisan’ as it should be, since it is an association that
takes part in elections and solicits students' votes on programmes, ideas, political tendencies, etc.
The above is the salt of democracy and is even an obvious application of the right of association,
manifestation of thought etc. enshrined in the Constitution. The debate is precisely made up of the
possibility of asserting one's ideas also and above all in the university's halls. If the university were to be
able to criticise (obviously subject to the above-mentioned limits) the content of the students‘ initiatives, it
would end up meddling in affairs that do not pertain to it, since it is quite clear that the initiative does not
belong to the university's governance but to a precise and well-identified students’ association that
assumes the paternity and relative responsibility.
Even less can the University claim to attribute a ‘scientific’ license to the initiatives, as if they were
curricular lectures or similar events, given that what is organised by the students is certainly not part of the
University's educational offer, but constitutes a way of expressing the constitutional rights of one (the
largest) of its components.
Nor can it be considered that the lack of authorisation (moreover, only a few days before the event) falls, as
is stated in the ruling, within the requirements of the regulation itself (which, if ever interpreted in that
sense, would be patently unlawful for the reasons amply set out above). In fact, what is referred to states
that “the concession is excluded for religious events, political parties and movements’”
. So, neither a
political conference (everything is political, including institutional lectures) nor any initiative of a political
movement is forbidden. What the regulation prohibits in the university's spaces is a demonstration, which
is clearly to be excluded in this case, since it is clear that a conference is not a demonstration (neither
religious nor political) but an opportunity for debate and in-depth analysis.
We are certain that the direct testimony of those who have lived through the drama of the Palestinian
occupation (condemned dozens of times by the UN) has a very high value and cannot be subjected to
censorship that is as hideous as it is illegitimate.
*Protesting is legitimate*
A wave of student protests began in April on US campuses. These protests in many cases took the form of
encampments, harking back to a democratic tradition that goes at least as far back as the protests against
the Vietnam War: today it is hard not to recognise that those who participated in those protests were on
the right side of history, but those protests suffered harsh repression.
This wave is now spreading and starting to touch Italian universities as well. The protesting students are
raising not only legitimate, but also very reasonable questions about the links of Western university
systems with the Israeli military-industrial complex. It is absurd to equate student actions with apologia for
terrorism or to accuse the protesters of anti-Semitism: in the USA these protests are also led by Jewish
student organisations!
Should similar movements develop in Pavia as well, it will be important for the university to adopt an
attitude of listening and respect. Before any other consideration, it is the very dimension of the ongoing
tragedy in the Middle East that demands it.
Thank you very much for your support, Pavia Antifascist Network

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Why people sign

Because university campuses must remain an area of open discussion about the current affairs, and the students should be given the basic right of expressing themselves (staying in the realm of respect of course) without the fear of repercussions. Not letting students speak is no way an evidence of a liberal and diverse community

For humanitarian reasons. I just like anyone else would like to end the injustice happening to the Palestinian people under the guise of self defence. So-called democracies call for accountability such that it benefits the powerful few.

In quanto dipendende all'interno dell'università, trovo la scelta di UNIPV di proibire lo svolgimento di iniziative a sostegno della causa Palestinese del tutto inaccettabile, sono direttamente interessata dalle politiche intraprese o sostenute dell'università, e fortemente contraria al clima di censura all'interno della stessa.

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