Striderna continues in Israel and Palestine, and last week Chalmers University of Technology banned students and employees from participating in political demonstrations - which was met with widespread criticism. At the same time Swedish university students and employees have demanded that the government and universities ska boycott Israel by ending research and exchange collaborations.
Chalmers University of Technology announced on Tuesday last week that political demonstrations and political posters are prohibited both in the university's premises and on the campus in general. Principal Martin Nilsson Jacobi referred to the tense situation around the world and that the decision was taken as a precaution as the Israel-Palestine conflict arouses strong emotions. He said that the university wants to avoid polarization and that employees and students should be able to feel safe. However, the decision was much debated and Chalmers chose on Saturday to lift the ban.
Some who were critical of the ban were Linnea Dubois, union chairman Fria Moderata Studentförbundet, and Emma Fastesson Lindgren, union chairman S-students.
- In the wake of the ban, only radicalization, contempt for politicians and, by extension, an eroded democracy grows, they write in a debate article in Goteborgs-posten.
Several of the political student unions also took a stand against the ban. In a debate article in Aftonbladet MP, S, C, L, M and KD's student union expressed concern that the ban would not only harm the students, but the entire Swedish democracy, and demanded that the university back down from its decision. In an editorial in Dagens ETC, Andreas Gustavsson also expressed concern about the decision's impact on democracy:
- I would like to call this process a hostile takeover of interpretative privilege, where the first targets also form the foundation of our democracy, he writes.
Debate on collaborations with Israeli universities
At the same time as the ban came from Chalmers, Swedish students, professors and employees at various universities have demanded that Sweden suspend collaborations with Israeli universities and research institutes that have collaborations with the military industry. They call on the country's colleges and universities to express solidarity with the Palestinian people, and political representatives to work for a ceasefire, protection of civilians and humanitarian aid.
- We, students, researchers and professors at the country's universities, cannot stand idly by what the UN calls a crisis for all of humanity, they write.
In a debate article in Expressen, Minister of Education Mats Person (L) writes that universities should be a place for dialogue and exchange of ideas. However, he believes that the problem occurs when the debate leaves the academic conversation. He also believes that a boycott of collaborations with Israel of this kind is the wrong way to go.
- That Swedish universities must take a stand in international conflicts is wrong-headed and can lead to the position of research being undermined and become easy prey for those who want to undermine academia, he writes.
The Minister of Education's statement has been met with criticism.
- If Sweden's Minister of Education believes that academics should not be able to take a stand for international law and human rights - then academic freedom is threatened. Then the constitutionally protected right to freedom of speech and opinion is restricted, writes several students and employees at universities and colleges in their debate article.
Another who directed criticism both at universities and Education Minister Mats Persson is editorial writer Håkan Boström. He means that uUniversities and colleges should obviously not take a political position as a collective, but that individual students and employees must be able to express their political views.
- A university where you keep quiet about what you think is no longer a university, he writes in his editorial Gothenburg Post.
Debate about Israel and Palestine within the Swedish academy
Linnea Dubois, union chairwoman Fria Moderata Studentförbundet; Emma Fastesson Lindgren, union chairman S-students, Göteborgs-Posten
Håkan Boström, editorial writer, Göteborgs-Posten
Anton Bylin, spokesperson Green students; Nadja Vinberg, spokesperson Green students; Emma Fastesson Lindgren, union chairman S-studenter et al., Aftonbladet
Andreas Gustavsson, editorial writer, Dagens ETC
Tuesdays for Palestine; Academics for Palestine Borås; Chalmers Social Justice et al., Dagens ETC
Mats Persson (L), Minister of Education, Expressen
The conflict in Israel and Palestine
Feras Ali; Khalil Assi; Romdhane Boussaidi et al., Sydsvenskan
Hanne Kjöller, columnist, Dagens Nyheter
Anna Danielsson, doctor; Margareta Sjöberg, sociologist, Dagens ETC
Doctors in solidarity with colleagues in Gaza: Sten Axelsson Fisk; Roya Hakimnia; Marja Forssman et al., Dagens ETC
Ronald S Lauder, chairman of the World Jewish Congress, Svenska Dagbladet
Evelyn Schreiber, editorial writer, Sydsvenskan
Nina Gren, senior lecturer in social anthropology, Lund University; Helena Lindholm, professor of peace and development research, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg-Posten
Meeting between China and the United States
Evelyn Schreiber, editorial writer, Sydsvenskan
The editorial staff, Dagens Nyheter
Elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Maria Bard, Läkarmission's impact manager for Africa; Bruno Kitoko, Läkarmissionen's deputy country manager for DR Congo, Sydsvenskan
Ukraine and EU membership
Johan Pehrson (L), Party leader; Karin Karlsbro (L), MEP, Göteborgs-Posten
Anders Lindberg, political editor-in-chief, Aftonbladet
Swedish climate policy
Erika Bjureby, Swedish head of Greenpeace, Aftonbladet
Ingvar Persson, editorial writer, Aftonbladet