UNIVERSITY – A manifesto against anti-Zionist consensus

Over twenty Italian universities have endorsed the “National Manifesto for the Right to Education.” The core of the manifesto, presented in Milan and initiated by university students, calls for moving beyond the attempts of a minority of university peers—associated with pro-Palestinian movements—to violentlyimpose their views, thus preventing others from expressing themselves and leading a normal academic life.
The initiative was introduced by Luca Spizzichino, president of the Union of Italian Young Jews – UGEI, inspired by Pietro Balzano, a student at the University of Milan. Spizzichino denounced the atmosphere of hatred towards Israel and the antisemitism prevailing in several Italian universities since the beginning of the Gaza conflict. Referring to various incidents from Milan to Rome, he emphasized, “These are signs of growing intolerance that must be decisively addressed: we cannot allow hatred to take control; we cannot allow antisemitic hatred to infect our universities.”
For this reason, the manifesto, promoted by Students for Liberty, Liberal University Students, and Siamo Futuro (We are future) together with UGEI, strongly condemns “any attempt to impose a single way of thinking at any cost, acts of intimidation against Jewish or Israeli students, and damage to universities that are a heritage for all of us.” The document also criticizes “attempts to deprive us of the undeniable technical and scientific benefits represented by collaboration agreements with Israeli universities.”
The signatories and supporters, backed by Minister of University Anna Maria Bernini, urge university rectors and academic senates “to reclaim spaces” currently occupied by anti-Israel protesters and “to remedy the damage caused by acts of vandalism accompanying these occupations.” They further call for “creating a shared space for genuine open debate on major current issues, where all students can express themselves freely and equally.” Additionally, they advocate maintaining all agreements with Israeli universities.
In line with this stance, another initiative was presented by professors and researchers from several Italian universities, advocating using research to build bridges with Israeli and Palestinian colleagues. Among the fifty signatories is Caterina La Porta, a professor of General Pathology at the University of Milan and winner of the 2019 Rita Levi Montalcini Award for scientific cooperation between Italy and Israel. “I hope that more and more professors will endorse this manifesto,” La Porta highlighted during a press conference in Milan. “They must make themselves heard as because the university exists only if it is free, inclusive, and promotes dialogue.”