Controversial Palestinian gave speech on Amsterdam campus; University demands explanation

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in 2017Steven LekWikimedia CommonsCC-BY-SA

Palestinian woman Rasmea Odeh, who was convicted in Israel for a bomb attack that killed two people, spoke at a gathering on the Vrije Universiteit's campus in Amsterdam on Tuesday. The University did not know about this meeting and demands an explanation, RTL Nieuws reports.

The gathering was arranged by left-wing student club Revolutionaire Eenheid in hall De Verrekijker, according to the broadcaster. In 1969 Odeh was sentenced to life in prison in Israel for the bomb attack. She was released through a prisoner exchange in 1980. According to the student club, Odeh is a "Palestinian heroine" who always denied her involvement in the violence of that time and came to speak about her "opposition to Israeli apartheid".

The gathering was initially planned to happen at a church, but had to be moved because of threats, according to the organizers. 

The University informed the police about the meeting and "emphatically distances" itself from it. De Verrekijker is a squatted building that is tolerated, according to the university. The gathering with "someone with, to say the least, a reputation" should have been reported in advance, especially for safety reasons, the university said. "We want to be able to assess what kind of meeting it is and whether safety measures are necessary for example. The organization completely failed to ask."

The center for information and documentation on Israel, CIDI, is pleased that the university distanced itself from this gathering. "We oppose the admission of a convicted terrorist to the Netherlands and certainly oppose offering a platform to terrorists", CIDI director Hanna Lunen said on Twitter.