Open letter to the Rector of the Jagiellonian University
June 05, 2024

The following is the text of an open letter addressed to His Magnificence Prof. Jacek Popiel, Rector of the Jagiellonian University, from: Jewish Religious Community in Cracow, Social and Cultural Society of Jews in Poland and Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland

 Cracow,  29 May 2024

The Jewish Religious Community of Cracow

The Social and Cultural Association of Jews in Poland

The Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland



His Excellency

Professor Jacek Popiel, PhD Hab.

Rector of the Jagiellonian University


Plus ratio quam vis!


The Open Letter


Dear Magnificence Rector,

The slogan ‘Plus ratio quam vis’, which is the guiding motto of the Jagiellonian University, is also a universal statement that reminds us all that reason should mean more than force. According to the common belief, this motto can be also seen as a plea for reason not to succumb to physical force, and certainly not to allow force to grow in strength.

Over the recent days, we have been greatly disturbed by events involving the academic community of our most ancient university. On 15 May this year, Your Magnificence received an open letter condemning the State of Israel, which was drafted by the University’s students and lecturers, including members of the Academia. Despite the fact that the content of this letter and the campaign to collect signatures were of a public nature, unfortunately we have not yet become aware of Your Magnificence’s official stance on the matter. Meanwhile, the content of this letter is very biased, the reality described is heavily distorted, presented in a partial and selective manner, and the explicitly anti-Semitic message it conveys, is shocking to us.

Moreover, in recent days we have been witnessing the occupation of one of the buildings of the Jagiellonian University, taking place under anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish slogans. The participants in this campaign are undermining the State of Israel’s right to exist, and its people’s right of self-government.

Of course, we are not denying anyone the right to criticise Israel, and especially the right to openly, and even sharply, formulate objections to the policies of the country’s government, if one recognises the need to do so. However, even the most bitter criticism is something completely different than denying one’s fundamental rights and values. The actual events and the accompanying narrative, as well as the attitudes of many prominent figures, bring to mind the worst associations with the anti-Semitic incidents that took place within university walls before 1939, as well as the infamous propaganda of March 1968. That propaganda used to hide the real anti-Semitic motives behind the screen of supposedly ‘anti-Zionist’ slogans.

At this point, let us remind you all that the Jewish community (acting as students and lecturers) has made a significant contribution to the development of Poland, Krakow and the Jagiellonian University over the past centuries, but this has been less spoken of in recent years. Mutual dialogue is increasingly being replaced by deplorable incidents and statements, such as, for example, the interview given by a Jagiellonian University spokesperson on 28 May this year, to TVP Cracow. In response to the demand by those occupying one of the University’s buildings that the University condemn Israel and terminate all cooperation with that country, a University spokesperson replied: ‘this cooperation we have with the Israeli side, with Israeli universities, is really very small’. Hence, it is difficult not to ask at this point: ‘How are we to interpret this statement?’

Every university has the right to autonomously and freely enter into cooperation with national and foreign partners, and this also applies to Israeli universities and research centres, which, let us note, are among the world’s leaders. However, the substantive criteria for the selection of partners and the evaluation of cooperation are something different from the twisted and obviously awkward and ill-considered attempts to justify this type of relationship while under pressure from those occupying the university building who happen to be making such demands today..

In the light of the above, we therefore ask Your Magnificence for increased sensitivity and understanding of Polish-Jewish-Israeli relations and – above all – for a creative dialogue with all parties affected by current and highly disturbing events. One of these parties is also the Jewish community – including members and supporters of the institutions and organisations we represent.