June 14, 2024
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Brandeis and Syracuse Sever Ties with Al-Quds

(from combined services)

Boston—The ten-year-old relationship established by Brandeis University and Al-Quds University has been suspended by Brandeis, and Syracuse University in New York State is following suit and suspending their partnership with the Arab school as well.

Last week, there was a Nazi-style military rally at Al Quds University—where students wore black military gear, carried fake automatic weapons, and gave the traditional Nazi salute during a march on the Al Quds campus. The event took place in the main square of the Al-Quds campus, which was draped with banners honoring “martyred” suicide bombers.

As soon as he heard about it, Brandeis president Frederick Lawrence contacted Al-Quds President Sari Nusseibeh and requested that he issue an unequivocal condemnation in Arabic and English, and sent two faculty members to discuss matters with Nusseibeh, but came away disappointed by his reaction. “The Brandeis University community abhors the actions that took place on the Al-Quds University campus and condemns all acts that incite or encourage senseless violence,” Lawrence wrote on the Brandeis First blog before he suspended

Al-Quds urged Brandeis to reconsider. In a statement, they said they investigated and informed all political factions on campus not to hold such activities. They said the campus political wing of Islamic Jihad was responsible for the rally, and that a small number of students violated their agreements with the university. “The faction’s activities are unacceptable and contrary to the university’s “liberal policy and the human values we are trying to promote,” the statement said.

In a statement issued by Brandeis, Lawrence said, “We have been told that the events of November 5 at Al-Quds University were led from people outside the university and this was an unauthorized demonstration. The administration of Al-Quds University assures us that threat of violence implied by the demonstration [is] not acceptable on their campus and the University administration is conducting a full investigation.”

Lawrence, the former dean of George Washington University Law School is an expert on hate speech and hate crimes. According to the Brandeis website, the two universities formed the partnership in 2003 to foster cultural understanding and provide educational opportunities for students, faculty and staff.

Brandeis will re-evaluate the relationship as future events may warrant.

Nusseibeh’s email to Lawrence, the English translation of what he posted in Arabic on the Al-Quds web site, triggered the suspension:

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.”

The Brandeis response was direct: “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.”

According to the Brandeis statement, “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.

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