Nato's Chair of the Military Committee, Admiral Rob Bauer was prevented from speaking by hard-left activists. EPA-EFE/LISE ASERUD NORWAY OUT

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Pro-Palestinian protesters block NATO general from speaking at Dutch university

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Hard-left activists prevented the chair of NATO’s military committee, Admiral Rob Bauer, from speaking at an event at the University of Amsterdam March 26.

The activists, who described themselves as “Students against NATO”, hung up a banner which read “Imperialism = Terrorism”.

Half the banner was covered in painted red hands, with the words “blood on your hands” written on it.

Another banner read “75 years of Nato terror.”

The activists chanted “Free free Palestine”, “Shame on You”, “Peace yes, no to war”, “NATO killers, fuck off”, and “Fuck Nato”.

Because of the protest, the organisers were forced to cancel Bauer’s talk.

In a statement they said they decided “it would be best to leave the stage in hopes of protests calming down. Following this, we tried to engage in dialogue; this was unsuccessful, and the interview was moved to a private room seen later in the video.”

This meant that the hosts talked with Bauer, without an audience.

Perhaps ironically, it also meant Bauer’s talk proceeded without critical questions from audience members who opposed NATO or its policies.

The talk was organised by Room for Discussion, an interview platform of the University of Amsterdam which regularly invites high-profile guests.

Admiral Bauer is chairman of the NATO Military Committee. As Military Adviser to the Secretary-General and the North Atlantic Council, he is NATO most senior military or naval officer.

He serves as a vital link channelling advice from NATO Allied Chiefs of Defence to the political decision-making bodies.

Bauer, who is Dutch, was in Amsterdam to speak about growing insecurity in Europe, and how societies may need to prepare for war again in light of many threats.

He was in the process of describing how he opposes war and views deterrence as the best way to avoid war, with the appearance of force often being enough for hostile powers to take a step back.

When he was making this argument, eight minutes into the conversation, the protesters began to chant slogans, rendering further public discussion impossible in the view of organisers.

The protesters are part of an action committee called “Room for Disruption”.

They say the University of Amsterdam “should not give a platform to NATO propaganda”, pointing to “the consequences of NATO interventions throughout history.”

The protesters also handed out flyers “addressing Bauer’s military past and NATO’s role in Ukraine and Palestine.”

The Dutch admiral suggested the protesters just ask him questions so he could answer and have a discussion with them, but they refused.

“The right to protest, dissent and hold the responsible authority accountable is exactly what NATO wants to defend,” the NATO admiral said afterward.

He said he didn’t mind protests, but called it “incredibly unfortunate that the activists did not want to enter into a dialogue. Because that is precisely where the solution lies.”

His spokesperson said the protestors wanted to prevent the discussion to take place, but also noted NATO is not involved in the war between Hamas and Israel.

“A military uniform and the topic of collective defence apparently evokes a lot of emotions and reactions. And that in itself is fine. He was happy to enter the conversation,” the spokesperson added.

In a reaction, Room for Discussion said it “deeply regrets how the events played out today and we express profound sadness over the loss of our opportunity to hold important, critical public discussions.”

The University of Amsterdam said on Twitter/X, “Room for discussion is exactly that: a place for a conversation, for critical questions, for discussion. Making it impossible for a guest invited by students to speak and paralysing the conversation is not academic, an intellectual weakness and unacceptable.”