Zwei Banner mit den Schriftzügen Freie Wissenschaft und Freie Gesellschaft hängen am Haupteingang des WZB
Press release

Research must remain free and open

WZB Statement on Academic Freedom

The management and the director’s board of the WZB Berlin Social Science Center have exchanged on how to deal with the Israel-Gaza conflict and have issued the following statement:

“We are conscious of concerns about threats to academic freedom affecting scholars on all sides that have arisen in the context of the Israel‐Gaza conflict.

We know of reports that in some institutions, invitations to guests and speakers have been withdrawn based on their political positions or identity.

Sometimes criticisms of the Government of Israel, or sympathy with Palestinian civilian populations, have been conflated with antisemitism and hatred of Israel. Some students and colleagues who are Jewish or have connections to Israel have been threatened, targeted, and delegitimized on account of their identity, affiliations, or origins.

We strongly condemn exclusionary behavior on the sole basis of a person’s nationality, ethnicity or institutional affiliation, regardless of whether it involves Israel, Palestine, or any other country of origin or affiliation.

In light of this we are now sending a clear message to our community that WZB will remain a space for open and free inquiry, where researchers can work without fear of sanction for being out of line with public opinion—on either side of an issue—or government stances or on account of their identity.

We draw a line at dehumanization, at incitements to hatred, and at the glorification of violence. And we draw a line at actions that seek to discriminate against or devalue members of our community on the basis of their identity, their religion or nationality, or on the basis of their reasonable political opinions. There is, to be clear, absolutely no tolerance for antisemitism or any form of racism, including anti‐muslim discrimination at WZB.

We are committed to maintaining space for open investigation and open discussion. Efforts to understand social processes will not be interpreted as efforts to justify them. Criticism of a government’s position or actions will not be interpreted as animus towards a people.

In this position we adhere to our mission. Scholarship and inquiry at WZB remain guided by our commitment to basic research with a focus on problems of modern societies in a globalized world.”

Berlin, May 23, 2024