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Venerable university in Berlin: panel discussion with Israeli judge at Humboldt University

Photo: Jens Kalaene/dpa

After a panel discussion with an Israeli judge was broken off, representatives of Berlin's Humboldt University and the Hertie School criticized the behavior of the pro-Palestinian activists. "I find it shameful for the guests we invited to an important discussion that it could not take place as planned," said Julia von Blumenthal, President of Humboldt University.

At the university, “extremely controversial positions should also be able to be discussed.” But that only works if we listen to each other. There was no willingness on the part of the activists to do this.

According to a joint statement from the two universities, pro-Palestinian activists disrupted a panel discussion on the topic of “Constitutional Challenges – Judging in a Constitutional Democracy” so badly on Thursday that it had to be canceled. International active and former judges were invited to the event, including Daphne Barak-Erez, professor and judge at the Israeli Constitutional Court.

According to the universities, one person stood up during the event to read a statement. When the speakers on stage wanted to react to this, they were disturbed "by loud and continuous shouting from individual people." The organizers then decided to cancel the panel discussion.

Video footage of the scene was shared on X, formerly Twitter. Satirist Jan Böhmermann wrote on the “Trotteln” platform.

»Science thrives on dialogue and exchange. We must also offer this space at universities to discuss competing opinions," explained Cornelia Woll, President of the Hertie School, according to the joint statement. If discussions can only take place in closed rooms under high security conditions, it would lead not only science but also democracy into a dead end.