Czech university heads denounce surge in anti-Semitic incidents

More than 30 leaders from Czech universities and colleges have signed an open letter denouncing growing anti-Semitism on campuses.


Written by ČTK Published on 13.11.2023 12:00:00 (updated on 08.01.2024) Reading time: 2 minutes

More than 30 leaders from Czech universities and colleges have signed an open letter denouncing growing anti-Semitism on campuses and demanding action from administrators, according to sources who provided the text to the ČTK news agency. The signatories warn that prejudiced hatred disguised as anti-Zionism or criticism of Israel is happening with the "involvement of many students."

David Jan Novotný of Charles University’s Faculty of Social Sciences in Prague and Věra Tydlitátová of the University of West Bohemia in Pilsen wrote the letter, which was signed by prominent academics like professors Ivan Šedivý and Jan Ámos Víšek along with cultural figures such as Eva Salzmannová, and documentary filmmakers Helena Třeštíková and Olga Sommerová.

The group criticized the tearing down of memorial posters for Jewish victims of a Hamas attack on Israel and condemned anti-Jewish slogans and calls for genocide heard at pro-Palestinian protests and on social media.

The letter calls on schools to "not allow the spread of prejudiced hatred" towards any group and act against intolerance, warning of increasing anti-Semitism akin to Nazi-era Kristallnacht pogroms in Nazi Germany in 1938 during which synagogues, Jewish shops, and businesses were burned and many Jews killed.

"We ask all competent institutions and the management of schools, faculties, and departments not to allow the spread of prejudiced hatred often disguised as anti-Zionism or as criticism of capitalism or colonialism. Of course, we assume that they will act in the same way towards any manifestations of intolerance of anyone," the text reads.

In closing, signatories demand "legal steps" be taken to prohibit hate speech masquerading as political criticism, aiming to curb campus incidents and ensure universities uphold principles of diversity and inclusion.

Hamas gunmen invaded southern Israel on Oct. 7, slaughtering some 1,400 mostly civilians and kidnapping more than 200 others into the Gaza Strip. Israel responded with the bombing of the Gaza Strip and a ground operation in this Palestinian-held territory. According to the Hamas-controlled local authorities, the Israeli military actions in the Gaza Strip have claimed the lives of more than 11,000 people, including over 4,600 children.

The open letter underscores the seriousness with which leading Czech academics are viewing the resurgent challenges of anti-Semitism.

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