Brandeis suspends partnership with Al-Quds after Fascist-style rally

November 19, 2013

Campus scenes on Nov. 5 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.



[Note by Tom Gross]

This is a follow-up to my previous three dispatches on the Fascist-style rally held on the main campus square at Al-Quds University in east Jerusalem on November 5. The rally lasted for almost three hours and people at the university tell me that up to 1,000 students attended or watched it at some point during it.

Attached below is a new statement issued yesterday by the president of Al-Quds’ American partner university, Brandeis.

Having criticized Brandeis University President Frederick Lawrence last week for his initial disappointing statement on the issue, he should be highly commended for making this much more robust new statement.

In it he says: “While Brandeis has an unwavering commitment to open dialogue on difficult issues, we are also obliged to recognize intolerance when we see it, and we cannot – and will not – turn a blind eye to intolerance. As a result, Brandeis is suspending its partnership with Al-Quds University effective immediately.”

He says he regrets the refusal by Al-Quds President Sari Nusseibeh to unequivocally condemn the Islamic Jihad rally in his new Arabic-language statement, and called Nusseibeh’s statement “unacceptable and inflammatory.” Lawrence says Brandeis will re-evaluate the relationship as future events may warrant.


Tom Gross adds:

As I wrote last week, a better outcome would have been for Brandeis to work with Al-Quds to ensure that this kind of activity never happens again, and for the Al-Quds president unequivocally to condemn this kind of behavior to his students. It seems clear that Brandeis would also have preferred this.

But the fact that in his new statement yesterday, Al-Quds President Nusseibeh (described as a “moderate” by Ha’aretz and the New York Times) not only fails to properly condemn the Fascist-style rally, but says it is all the fault of the “Jews” for having the temerity to ask for Fascist rallies not to be held on the main square on campus, has left Brandeis no choice but to take the difficult decision to suspend relations with Al-Quds.

The Al-Quds president’s statement is very revealing. It is carefully written so as to barely mention the rally itself, suggesting it was a fringe event (when in fact it is the third student rally praising suicide bombers to be held on campus this academic year). Like the other rallies, the Nov. 5 rally was clearly produced with some financial and logistical backing which calls into doubt the notion that it was a fringe event. Rather than being sorry that such a hate-rally took place, the Al-Quds president’s statement makes it sound like he is only really sorry that they were caught.

Like Brandeis, I support collaboration between Western and Palestinian universities. But appeasing or appearing to support anti-Semitic and racist rallies by students, makes such collaboration virtually impossible.

The Al-Quds’ statement also adds insult to injury by shamefully lumping together (as if there was some kind of comparison to be made) the Holocaust (referred to by Nusseibeh, in the classic style of Holocaust revisionists, as a mere “massacre”) and the occupation of the West Bank.

-- Tom Gross


The campus organization Brandeis Students for Justice in Palestine have today issued a statement strongly criticizing their university president and demanding that Brandeis also sever ties with its Israeli partner college, the Technion.


Brandeis University suspends its partnership with Al-Quds University effective immediately
Nov. 18, 2013

Brandeis University President Frederick Lawrence announced today that Brandeis has suspended its partnership with Al-Quds University effective immediately. Brandeis will re-evaluate the relationship as future events may warrant.

The decision stems from recent events at Al-Quds University, including a campus demonstration on Nov. 5 and a statement about the demonstration, which the president of Al-Quds University issued last night.

The Nov. 5 demonstration on the Al-Quds campus involved demonstrators wearing black military gear, armed with fake automatic weapons, and who marched while waving flags and raising the traditional Nazi salute. The demonstration took place in the main square of the Al-Quds campus, which was surrounded by banners depicting images of “martyred” suicide bombers.

Immediately after he received reports of the demonstration, President Lawrence contacted Al-Quds President Sari Nusseibeh and requested that he issue an unequivocal condemnation of the demonstrations. President Lawrence also requested that the condemnation be published in both Arabic and English.

Last night (Nov. 17), President Nusseibeh sent an email to President Lawrence with an English translation of a statement posted in Arabic on the Al-Quds web site.

Unfortunately, the Al-Quds statement is unacceptable and inflammatory. While Brandeis has an unwavering commitment to open dialogue on difficult issues, we are also obliged to recognize intolerance when we see it, and we cannot – and will not – turn a blind eye to intolerance. As a result, Brandeis is suspending its partnership with Al-Quds University effective immediately. We will reevaluate our relationship with Al-Quds based on future events.

The partnership with Al Quds University was initiated with the best of intentions for opening a dialogue and building a foundation for peace. Over the years, our partnership has been extremely productive in many respects, including student and faculty exchanges that have advanced the cause of peace and understanding.

Brandeis welcomes students of all faiths and nationalities and is home to students from more than 130 countries, including every country in the Middle East. We are proud of our deep roots in Middle Eastern studies as well as our internationally recognized programs in Peace, Conflict and Coexistence Studies.

While recent events make it necessary for us to suspend our current relationship with Al-Quds, we will continue to advance the cause of peace and understanding on our campus and around the world.



Letter to our dear students from the President of the University

“Call them to the path of your Lord with wisdom and words of good advice; and reason with them in the best way possible.”

-- Allah the Almighty is Truthful.

Quran, 16:125

My Dear Students of Al-Quds University,

The university is often subjected to vilification campaigns by Jewish extremists with the purpose of discrediting its reputation as a prestigious academic institution with a unique, humane calling: to strive to instill noble values in its students; to spread the spirit of democracy and openness toward other world cultures; and to present the genuine face of the Palestinian people, calling for peace against the extremism and violence to which we ourselves are subjected as a people denied our rights under occupation.

These extreme elements spare no effort to exploit some rare but nonetheless damaging events or scenes which occur on the campus of Al Quds University, such as fist-fighting between students, or some students making a mock military display. These occurrences allow some people to capitalize on events in ways that misrepresent the university as promoting inhumane, anti-Semitic, fascist, and Nazi ideologies. Without these ideologies, there would not have been the massacre of the Jewish people in Europe; without the massacre, there would not have been the enduring Palestinian catastrophe.

As occurred recently, these opportunists are quick to describe the Palestinians as a people undeserving of freedom and independence, and as a people who must be kept under coercive control and occupation. They cite these events as evidence justifying their efforts to muster broad Jewish and western opinion to support their position. This public opinion, in turn, sustains the occupation, the extension of settlements and the confiscation of land, and prevents Palestinians from achieving our freedom.

My Dear Students of Al-Quds University,

Your university has a proud place on the academic map of the Palestinian and the Arab worlds. And this pride is not only because we have made more progress than other universities in the fields of faculty research and publication. Nor is it only that your graduates are making great achievements for society and knowledge that exceed the achievements of others. This pride is also due to the honorable values that every student should carry, shape, and spread among society. This is a message of noble human values: freedom, democracy, and pluralism. This is a message of equality among people without consideration of status, class, race, gender, religion or any other quality. This is a message to build hope and a better human future. This is a message of justice and love and peace. This is a message of dialogue and forgiveness, of mutual respect, a message of high ethical standards. A message against hatred, against violence, against extremism, and also a message to make use of reason in every way and make reason dominant over passionate outbursts and to keep passion contained in the breast.

My Dear Students,

Your university makes the maximum effort to create an environment for you that allows you to act freely. Practicing this freedom is the basis on which to foster a better society.

But freedom is connected to the whole group of values that I mentioned above. It means respect when you are dealing with others. It means mutual respect among students, of students for their teachers and of teachers for their students. Any attack on teachers violates the principle of freedom. If you try to force your position on others without persuading them, that also is a violation of the concept of freedom. To express any position or opinion in a way that inspires hatred against others violates the concept of respect, which is one of the fundamental elements of freedom – for example, if anyone tries to impose a position on others by force, by verbal threat, or by violence.

And while the university strives to provide an atmosphere of freedom, it is at the same time committed to preventing breaches by those who do not respect its principles and also holding accountable those who violate them, be they students, faculty or staff. Whoever harms another individual or group is also harming the university, its image and its reputation; this is an abomination. The word for a university campus (haram) connotes a sacred space for free and open discussion, the exchange of ideas, and the expression of contradictory views. A university campus should provide peaceful coexistence, safe from reactions that occur in the surrounding community, alongside scientific investigation and knowledge incubated in the university.

So we call upon you, for the sake of your society, for the sake of your university, and for the sake of yourselves, to hold firmly these values, for a world with degraded principles is like a beast that may be skillful in its tasks but reaps nothing but havoc upon the earth.


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The previous dispatches on this issue can be read here:

* Scenes yesterday afternoon from a “moderate” Palestinian university

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

* Update: Al-Quds photos receive attention from Netanyahu through to Al Jazeera


Update November 20:

I noted in previous dispatches on this subject, that the mainstream media have all-but-ignored this story. One can only presume political reasons play a part in their decision.

But the latest developments have been reported today and yesterday in many prominent blogs and websites, for example, here:

* Jonathan Tobin at Commentary (who is always worth reading)
* The Investigative Project
* Before it is news
* HonestReporting (if you scroll down)
* BBC Watch (if you scroll down)

And in Israeli newspapers, for example:

* Ha’aretz (with interesting readers comments)
* The Jerusalem Post
* Ma’ariv
* Israel National News

* In the education press, for example in the Chronicle of Higher Education

* Or in the Jewish press, for example in The Forward

* Or in Spanish
* Or in French (which notes that “Aucun média classique français n'en a parlé...”)
* Or in Hungarian

* While mainstream media are still ignoring this story, readers continue to highlight it in the readers’ comment sections – for example, here in the leading German paper Die Zeit

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.