Serious fatigue in Swiss universities

Serious fatigue in Swiss universities
Serious fatigue in Swiss universities

“The police intervention that has become inevitable leaves us with a terrible feeling of failure.” The rector of the University of Geneva, Audrey Leuba, summed up in a press release on Tuesday her disappointment following the forcible evacuation of the Uni Mail. “We tried everything to avoid it, favoring until the end a dialogue in compliance with the rules of the University and its charter of ethics and professional conduct.”

Faced with the human tragedies in the Gaza Strip, she says she understands the demonstrators: “Their emotion and their need to act are legitimate, we share them.” Unfortunately, these demonstrations, which were intended to be peaceful and respectful at the beginning, were infiltrated by more radical elements. “At the same time, we saw the occupation escape the collective, with the appearance of people from outside the University, of party or political group logos, of speeches unrelated to the cause defended.”

At the University of Fribourg, the rectorate was presented with a fait accompli by the occupants, who moved into the Pérolles 21 building on Monday, “listening to loud music, moving the building’s furniture as they pleased, spreading carpets , serving coffee and food, decorating the place with flags and slogans, relaying announcements on the megaphone and distributing leaflets throughout the building.

In its press release published Tuesday, the Friborg rectorate notes with concern “that an ever-increasing number of people on site have no link with the institution and use this platform for political purposes”.

In Lausanne, the Grand Council of Vaud voted on Tuesday a resolution asking the State to intervene to dislodge the activists who have occupied Unil since May 2.

By allowing the demonstrators to settle in, the universities believed in their capacity for dialogue, they had confidence in “their” students, who would know how to remain within the framework of a dignified occupation. But this movement seems well supervised by the Swiss-Palestine Federation, which brings together some 25 organizations in favor of the Palestinian cause in Switzerland. Its main demand is “an end to academic cooperation with the Israeli apartheid state.”

Universities refuse to establish this academic boycott. Audrey Leuba admits that the humanitarian drama in Gaza “calls for a fundamental response regarding the role of academic institutions. But this response must not come under pressure, it cannot be a concession made to obtain an end to a crisis…. It must be the fruit of a true scientific approach, in accordance with university requirements, applicable to all situations.

These occupations of universities for the Palestinian cause against Israel have so far in no way improved the fate of the inhabitants of Gaza. On the other hand, the importation of this conflict into Switzerland in an ostentatious manner, with slogans that only target Israel, is harmful to Swiss social peace. There is no question that this situation encourages and trivializes forms of anti-Semitism.

Compassion with the immense human distress of the Palestinian people of Gaza is a legitimate feeling shared by a large part of the Swiss population. But the radicalization and politicization of the pro-Palestinian movement in universities risks making the cause unpopular, which would be the opposite of the desired objective.

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