Petition to sever ties with Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Petition follows recent statement by executive board on Israel and Hamas dialogue.
Boog van het theater van  the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. According to the petition, a significant part of the HUJI campus was constructed on occupied territory. Photo Shutterstock

Over 160 WUR employees have signed a petition calling on the executive board to sever all education and research ties with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJI). ‘The issue is not WUR’s views on a conflict elsewhere in the world; it is how WUR handles partners who are involved in this conflict,’ says co-initiator Joost Jongerden.

The petition focuses specifically on WUR’s partnership with HUJI but is also relevant to other Israeli universities and institutes ‘involved in the illegal occupation of Palestinean territories and in violating international law’, the petition states.

‘We are concerned that WUR’s collaboration with these institutes jeopardises its high ethical standards’, Jongerden, an associate professor of Rural Sociology, clarifies

. ‘We, as WUR employees, are justly expected to take into account how our actions impact society and to respect human wellbeing. This should, naturally, also apply to WUR as an institute. Partnerships or collaborations must, hence, also be assessed according to ethical standards.’ Earlier, Jongerden wrote a letter to the editors concerning Palestine and academia’s discomfort.


The petition, which is set to close on 18 March, follows the recent statement released by the executive board (EB) on WUR and the Israel-Hamas dialogue. In it, the EB states that it is not up to WUR to take a position in geopolitical conflicts that are unrelated to research and tertiary education. The fact that WUR did precisely that in the Ukraine conflict was the result of an urgent request made by the Minister of Education, Culture and Science, says the board.

The statement provoked several critical reactions. Mark Vicol (assistant professor of Agrarian Sociology), among others, detailed on the intranet why this conflict is, in many aspects, related to research and tertiary education. The petition, which Vicol co-initiated, details this link further.


The document refers to WUR’s exchange programme with HUJI. The petition claims that a significant portion of the HUJI campus, including the dormitories that house exchange students, has been constructed on occupied territory. Moreover, the institute houses an Israeli army base, and the HUJI board has close ties with military technology companies that supply the Israeli army.

The petition also criticises the WUR/HUJI exchange programme website, calling the text promoting a trip to the Golan Heights ‘shocking’. The United Nations considers the Golan Heights illegally occupied.

Jongerden reports that the petition has already been signed by over 160 people ‘from a wide range of science groups, from secretaries to professors. A broad base of support.’

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  1. Is it possible for a Palestinian to understand the fear of the Jewish people and the horror they experienced? On October 7th 2023, the holocaust, the pogroms? Can Jewish people understand the horror in occupied territories?

    Impossible…? Some leaders thrive on contradictions. Stir them up. They stand up for their own group and call the other bad. Get out of here!

    Does this petition help to bridge the divide?

    I know a few people, teaching at universities in Israel. In their classrooms the audience is a mixture of Jewish, Arab and international students. These are places where dialogues take place.

    The nature of this conflict is so incomparable to Ukraine. Therefore I understand the nuanced statement of the Executive Board. This petition however, is rather populist in nature, one-sided and points out where international law is being violated by Israel, without condemning the barbarism of October 7th and taking hostages by the military branch of Hamas. Of course we all hope for peace and better leadership than Nethanyahu or Hamas.