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MEP accuses Trinity College Dublin of ‘antisemitic acts’

 Image: David Soanes Photography, via Getty

Christian Ehler criticises university’s decision to divest from Israeli companies and review student exchanges

An influential MEP has accused Trinity College Dublin of “antisemitic acts” after the university agreed to protesters’ demands for it to divest from Israeli companies and review student exchanges with Israel.

In a social media post, Christian Ehler, a senior member of the European Parliament’s research committee, called the university’s decision “an act against the Jewish people in general disguised as a measured response to a war”.

The university (pictured) has not addressed Ehler’s specific criticisms but defended its record on antisemitism, telling Research Professional News that it “has sought to support all of those affected by the war no matter where they come from or their political stance” since the attacks on Israel on 7 October.

‘University embarking on dark path’

Ehler urged the European Commission “to do everything in its power to move Trinity College Dublin from the dark path it [has] embarked on and to prevent any other universities from following its direction”.

“Israel and the Jewish people are part of our European family, of the European Research Area and are our partners in the framework programmes,” he said. 

“The ERA cannot exist if we allow academic institutions to discriminate against certain people which are part of the ERA by fuelling antisemitism in Europe by giving in to these student movements.”

He added that the university had “committed to punishing the Jewish people for protecting themselves against the terrorists of Hamas operating out of Gaza”.

Trinity College Dublin highlighted its support for Jewish students, saying that in the aftermath of 7 October its vice-president for global engagement “contacted a number of Jewish colleagues and the president of the Trinity Jewish Society outlining the [support] available [and] invited the students to provide Trinity Global with suggestions on what assistance would be helpful”.

It added: “The university has already stated that all forms of racism, including antisemitism and Islamophobia, have absolutely no place here.”

University College Dublin stance

Protests over ties with Israel have also been taking place at University College Dublin. Last week, the university’s president Orla Feely said she supported the “rights of UCD staff and students to peaceful protest within the law”.

She added that UCD has many formal bilateral partnerships with international institutions “but no such partnerships with Israeli institutions”. However, she said the university does participate in EU research projects as a member of a number of multi-partner networks, and that the university has “11 active projects that have Israeli partners within these large networks”. 

“We fully respect the academic freedom of UCD researchers to continue these research collaborations, most of which are in the areas of health and sustainability,” Feely said.