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Ashoka University Graduates Call for Cutting Ties with Tel Aviv University Amid Pro-Palestine Protest

© Provided by The Rahnuma Daily

Ashoka University’s recent graduation ceremony, students made a powerful statement by displaying pro-Palestine placards reading “Free Palestine,” “Stop Genocide,” and “Cut Ties Now,” as shown in videos accessed by Maktoob Media. Source: Twitter

(RAHNUMA) At Ashoka University’s recent graduation ceremony, students made a powerful statement by displaying pro-Palestine placards. The placards, which read “Free Palestine,” “Stop Genocide,” and “Cut Ties Now,” were held by students wearing keffiyehs, as shown in videos accessed by Maktoob Media.

These demonstrators were Young India Fellows (YIF), recipients of Ashoka’s prestigious year-long residential postgraduate diploma in Liberal Studies. The protest was a response to Ashoka’s collaboration with Tel Aviv University in Israel. “This is a gesture of solidarity with the people of Palestine and a protest against our university’s collaboration with an institution enabling genocide,” a student told Maktoob Media while holding a “Free Palestine” poster.

The university had previously warned students against carrying placards or wearing protest-related items during the graduation ceremonies, threatening disciplinary action. “This is also a protest against the university action,” the student added.

Last month, the student body formally petitioned the Vice-Chancellor, demanding the severance of ties with Tel Aviv University. The petition, signed by 442 students, 105 alumni, and 39 faculty members, expressed deep concern over the Israeli military actions in Gaza and called for an immediate suspension of all academic and research collaborations with Tel Aviv University. The petition highlighted Tel Aviv University’s connections to Israel’s military and its efforts to support soldiers through crowdfunding initiatives.

According to Ashoka University’s website, its partnership with Tel Aviv University includes faculty visits, student exchanges, research collaboration, and joint programs. On May 7, a delegation from the student body met with the Office of the Pro-Vice Chancellor to discuss the petition. While the administration expressed empathy, it firmly stated that it would not end its ties with Tel Aviv University, citing a policy of remaining apolitical.

The student community held a public meeting on May 10 to reiterate their stance. A collective statement from the students questioned the university’s claim of political neutrality, citing instances where the administration had taken political actions, such as inviting a BJP politician for a session and applying pressure on students screening a documentary on the Ram Mandir.

Ali Khan Mahmudabad, an Associate Professor and head of the Political Science department at Ashoka, endorsed the petition and issued a statement of solidarity. In an open letter, he explained how Tel Aviv University is deeply involved in supporting and benefiting from the occupation.

The protest at the graduation ceremony has sparked a broader discussion about the ethical responsibilities of academic institutions in their global collaborations. While the Ashoka University administration maintains its stance, the voices of its students have brought the issue into sharp focus, highlighting the ongoing debate over the intersection of education, politics, and human rights.

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