Al-Quds: Fascist-style rally by our students last Tuesday was “totally unacceptable”

November 10, 2013

[Note by Tom Gross]

This is a follow-up to my dispatch last Wednesday in which I revealed that the day before, students at Al-Quds University in east Jerusalem had held a Fascist-style rally, and I posted absolutely shocking photos of it here.

I attach three items below.

The first is an “official statement by Al-Quds university public relations office” in response to my dispatch. While this statement of tolerance is very welcome, I have been told by students that the university has not yet translated it into Arabic, nor posted it on any official university website.

Instead the university sent the statement to myself and asked me to post it on my website, and it has also been sent to news outlets who reported on my dispatch. It was sent by Rula Jadallah, Public Relations & Cultural Affairs Manager at Al-Quds University.

I have written yesterday and on Friday and this morning to the university PR office to ask if the Al-Quds university president had approved the statement but they have yet to reply.

(Update, evening of Nov. 10: The university has now confirmed to me that this was an official Statement signed by Dr. Imad Abu Kishek, Executive Vice President of Al-Quds University.)

(Update, Nov. 11: The university spokesperson has now confirmed to me that the university’s statement is only in English not in Arabic, which is strange if they truly want to send a message to their students that this kind of Fascist-style display is “totally unacceptable” as the vice-president of the university wrote in his English-language statement.)

Perhaps even more disturbingly, Brandeis University, the traditionally Jewish liberal university in America (which partners with Al-Quds), has still to issue a statement condemning the rally, despite being asked to do so for over four consecutive days by American journalists I know that read my dispatch last Wednesday.

The second and third items below are notes that I attached to my original dispatch on Wednesday afternoon and on Friday morning.

 

Campus scenes last Tuesday at Al-Quds University. The Western-funded university authorities have on at least three occasions so far this academic year tolerated these kind of displays by students.

 

OFFICIAL STATEMENT BY AL-QUDS UNIVERSITY PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICE

Issued on the afternoon of Friday November 8, 2013:

Al-Quds University and as part of its liberal policy which always called for openness and toleration, puts great efforts to get its students to learn how to live in a democratic environment, get to know the “other” and respect their viewpoints. This has been the case in spite of all kinds of difficulties that Al-Quds University students, in specific, are facing on daily basis from Israeli soldiers, whom provokingly keep attacking them along side university staff with hundreds of tear gas bombs. These events have always been meet by restraint of any retaliation, imposed by the university administration on its student body, following its policy of non-violence and pacifism.

What happened on Tuesday during the student event that Al-Jihad faction’s student-arm led, and in particular, the scenes of the threat of violence implied by the military dress and the fake weaponry is totally unacceptable, as it stands against the University policy and vision to provide the Palestinian society with students with peaceful minds and spirits, and in-fact horrified the whole student body who is not used to such acts on campus. Accordingly, the University administration called upon the heads of student factions, and will be conducting an investigation immediately to ensure that such kind of unacceptable actions during festivals do not happen again.

This event which was hand picked, does not in anyway represent the dominant educational and intellectual environment at Al-Quds University, which has always been at the forefront of calls for tolerance and acceptance of people from all corners of the world, to the point that it was criticised by different Palestinian voices.

***

Tom Gross adds:

The above statement makes it sound as though last Tuesday’s Fascist-style demonstration which was organized by the Islamic Jihad student faction, and in which other students at the university joined in, was a one-time occurrence.

In fact I am informed by students at Al-Quds University that the Hamas student faction there had already conducted at least two similar military-style demonstrations praising suicide bombers at the university so far this academic year, and no discipline was taken against them afterwards because no photos of them were exposed to a Western audience, like last Tuesday’s demonstration was.

 

UPDATE TO MY ORIGINAL DISPATCH: WILL SAEB EREKAT CONDEMN THIS?

(Posted on my website on the afternoon of Wednesday November 6, 2013)

Tom Gross writes:

I am sure that the president of Al-Quds University, Sari Nusseibeh, who is a relative moderate, as well as one of the university’s founding trustees Saeb Erekat – who is the chief Palestinian negotiator with the Israelis in the current peace talks – don’t exactly approve of these demonstrations by students. But the fact that they are helpless to stop them doesn’t bode well for the future of Israeli-Palestinian co-existence.

Nor does it make it easy on campus for those moderate Palestinian students that actually want to foster peace with Israel.

 

UPDATE TO MY ORIGINAL DISPATCH: WHERE ARE THE LIBERAL MEDIA?

(Posted on my website on the morning of Friday November 8, 2013)

This dispatch has been viewed many thousands of times during the last two days, and linked to in at least 200 news-sites and blogs.

I am glad that European diplomats have been in touch with me about it.

It is disappointing, however, that left-wing and centrist media are still refusing to cover this story, and only right-wing media seem interested.

Continuing to ignore the widespread and growing Palestinian incitement to kill Jews, as the more liberal international media do, does not bode well for peace.

I have consistently supported the creation of an independent Palestinian Arab state alongside Israel. But to be viable and successful it is not only a question of what Israel will give the Palestinians, but of the Palestinians themselves engaging in good governance. There is no point in creating a new Palestinian state if it will primarily be used as a launching ground for armed attacks on Israel, which would be likely to in turn lead to a much bloodier war between Israelis and Palestinians than anything we have witnessed in the past. The Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 resulted in much more violence between Palestinians and Israelis, not less, and we surely don’t want a repeat of that if Israel leaves the West Bank.

It is also disappointing that the Brandeis University administration that partners with Al-Quds are refusing to respond to journalists, who tell me they have emailed and phoned Brandeis for a comment about the rally but Brandeis have refused to speak to them.

Surely the aim of Brandeis partnering with Al-Quds is to produce a more liberal atmosphere on campus, not one where extremists dominate and threaten violence and moderate Palestinian students feel intimidated. One hopes that the president of Brandeis might have a quiet word with the president of Al-Quds.

I would also like to make it clear that while it is good these sites are covering this issue, I disassociate myself with the use of language in some of the reports linking to this page that use the term “Nazi salute” or “Nazi style” or “Hitler-style” or “genocide”.

I believe that such terms should only be used in the context of World War Two, and I avoided using them myself on this webpage, as I have elsewhere.

A more apt term would be “Fascist-style”.

The dispatch has been reproduced in other languages around the world, for example, here in Spanish.

Or here in German.

Or French.

Or in Polish if you scroll down here.

***

Update, Nov. 11: The rally has now been covered in Hebrew by Ma’ariv, with quotes from me.

(Again I disassociate myself from some of the readers’ comments on Ma’ariv’s website which I think are unpleasant and unhelpful for the cause of peace.)

***

Update (November 12):

There is a further update including a reaction from Brandeis here.

***

Update (November 19): There is a further dispatch here:

* Brandeis suspends partnership with Al-Quds after (they appear to defend) Fascist-style rally

-- Tom Gross

 

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