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Swiss Jewish group concerned about university protests

Police officers supervise Pro-Palestinian demonstrators during protest in the entrance hall of the main building of the ETH Zurich on Tuesday, May 7, 2024 in Zurich, Switzerland. (
Police officers supervise pro-Palestinian demonstrators at ETH Zurich, May 7, 2024. Keystone / Michael Buholzer

The Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities (SIG) says it is apprehensively monitoring the escalating mood at various Swiss universities where pro-Palestinian demonstrations have taken place in recent days.

Universities are democratic institutions where open debate should be fostered, the SIG told the Keystone-SDA news agency on Wednesday.

“However, the loud voices of the protesters reveal ideological and radicalised features,” said SIG Secretary General Jonathan Kreutner.

+ Read more: our focus page on anti-Semitism in Switzerland

These voices give the impression that all students share their positions. But this is far from the truth, the SIG added. It said that ultimatums and extremely one-sided demands are being made, while dissenters are intimidated. Under such conditions, universities no longer offer a safe environment for Jewish students.

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The question clearly arises as to whether the protests, particularly at the University of Lausanne, can be tolerated and whether they are compatible with the values of a university, the SIG said. It claims there should be no tolerance for clearly transgressive anti-Semitic statements – such as the slogan “From the river to the sea”.

Responsibility of staff

Kreutner went on to say that it was up to the lecturers and university management, who must fulfil their responsibilities, “get a grip on the situation and, if possible, hold constructive talks with the protesters”.

Protesters temporarily occupied buildings at the federal technology institute ETH Zurich, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), and the University of Geneva on Tuesday. Protests have continued at the universities of Lausanne and Geneva on Wednesday.

Adapted from German by DeepL/dkk/dos

This news story has been written and carefully fact-checked by an external editorial team. At SWI we select the most relevant news for an international audience and use automatic translation tools such as DeepL to translate it into English. Providing you with automatically translated news gives us the time to write more in-depth articles.

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