The Israel-Hamas conflict

In Institution

A message from Anne-Sophie Nyssen, Rector.

As Rector, I have been questioned on several occasions about the fact that ULiège has not taken a position on the escalation of the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

As a psychologist, I remember Paul Watzlawick telling us: "You can't not communicate". All silence has a meaning, whether we like it or not.

So can a university be silent in these dramatic times? What would be the meaning of this silence?  Indifference? Denial? Shameful approval? Fear? But at the same time, what sense would it make to take an institutional stance in such a context?  Our university covers a wide range of members, nationalities and, to be sure, individual positions with regard to this conflict. So how do we get the University to adopt a position? By positioning the authorities? By consensus? By majority referendum?

The first question is whether it is within the remit of a university to take a position in such a context.  We have not issued a statement condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but as a hospitable university we have welcomed refugee students from countries at war.

So our position is not one of silence. ULiège defends the values of democracy and human rights as defined in particular by the European Convention on Human Rights and the United Nations International Bill of Human Rights, as well as by international humanitarian law.

Consequently, on behalf of the entire rectoral team, the administrator and, I am sure, the entire ULiège community, I condemn all forms of terrorism and call for an end to violence against civilians, as well as their access to vital resources, I pledge that ULiège will be a place of welcome for students and researchers fleeing war, as well as a place of dialogue, tolerance and solidarity between peoples and cultures.

Pr Anne-Sophie NYSSEN, Rector

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