Statement of the Rectorate of Bielefeld University in an updated version dated 16 November 2023
Bielefeld University unequivocally condemns the terrorist attacks on Israel by Hamas. Our thoughts and condolences go out to the victims and their families, and especially to our partner universities Ben-Gurion Negev, Haifa, Tel Aviv and the Technion, their students, and all the colleagues in academics and administration with whom we have been working together for many years in many different capacities.
We in Germany have a historical responsibility to protect Jewish life. During the National Socialist era, universities also failed. It is unacceptable that people of the Jewish faith still cannot feel safe in Germany – even more so today.
In memory of the victims of Hamas’ terror, out of solidarity with the Israeli people and the Jews of Germany, and as a clear symbol against all forms of anti-Semitism, the Rectorate has decided to fly the Israeli flag on campus. We will not tolerate it being destroyed or defaced.
Our solidarity does not mean that we have forgotten the many victims on the Palestinian side. We mourn with those who have lost family, friends, and their homes. We also acknowledge that the current situation is foregrounded in a long history and a complex context. The democratic state of Israel has the right to defend itself against a terrorist organization like Hamas. The objective of freeing the hostages is a legitimate one. We hope that the war will soon give way to other forms of conflict resolution and that peace can be secured. Every single victim is one too many.
It is our firm belief that we must now take a stand to ensure that our university is a place where there is no room for hatred, violence, and hate speech. We are committed to safeguarding Bielefeld University as a place of diversity, marked by a culture of fair debate and critical response to all forms of discrimination. As a matter of principle, there is no place on our campus for anti-Semitism or Islamophobia. This is something we all must work towards.
In this context, we would also like to draw your attention to the statement by the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK): https://www.hrk.de/presse/pressemitteilungen/pressemitteilung/meldung/hrk-fordert-entschiedenes-eintreten-gegen-antisemitismus-an-hochschulen-5016/
This conflict is placing a psychological burden on some students and staff members. Bielefeld University offers confidential, unbiased, non-partisan counselling services and professional support for those impacted. Students and doctoral researchers can get in touch with the Zentrale Studienberatung (ZSB, Student Advising and Counselling) (www.uni-bielefeld.de/zsb). For staff members in academics, technical services, administration, and managerial roles, the staff advisory services are there to help (www.uni-bielefeld.de/verwaltung/beratung-ma-fk/). For those who feel threatened, please immediately contact the crisis and threat management team (www.uni-bielefeld.de/themen/hilfe-notfall/bedrohliche-situationen/).