Holocaust belongs in education “even in difficult times”

The Holocaust Monument in Amsterdam. Photo: Dirk PH Spits

Educational institutions must continue to actively educate students about the horrors of the Holocaust “including in times when this may prove difficult,” caretaker education minister Robbert Dijkgraaf has said.

Dijkgraaf was referring to a decision by Utrecht’s hbo college (HU) to postpone a series of lectures on the Holocaust scheduled to start on February 7, resulting in protests from politicians and fellow-organiser CIDI.

In an initial reaction to the commotion caused by the decision, made shortly before the Holocaust remembrance ceremony on Sunday, the college said that “taking the current dynamics into account, we need more time to organise a balanced dialogue about the subject”.

“It is very disappointing and regrettable that we have to do this but everyone realises that the current war between Israel and Hamas will have an impact on these lectures. And that impact will have to be processed in the dialogue sessions,” a HU spokesman said.

In a later statement, however, the college said it feared for the safety of the speakers and the audience, saying it had received “signals”, which it did not specify.

The HU did say its decision had not been influenced by “comments by activists”, referring to criticism by pro-Palestinian group New Neighbours Utrecht.

Israeli information centre CIDI, which helped organise the lectures, said that argument holds no water. “I was in contact with security at the Hogeschool a couple of days ago and they said they would need extra staff but that was not a problem,” Aline Pennewaard of CIDI told RTV Utrecht.

Utrecht city council now says it is in talks with the college and “other concerned parties” to see how they can help ensure the lecture series continues at another time.

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