Brandeis University is in the spotlight this week as it has severed ties with its sister institution, Al Quds University, after Al Quds held a Nazi-style rally on campus, and failed to condemn it.

On November 5th, Palestinian Al Quds University, which has campuses in Jerusalem, Al-Bireh, and Abu-Dis, held a Nazi-style military rally on its main campus. At the rally, Al Quds students, dressed in black military gear and masks, brandished fake weapons while marching, waving flags, and raising the Nazi solute. Actors dressed as Israeli soldiers were seen sprawled on the ground, while other students trampled on banners depicting the Star of David. Images of suicide bombers were displayed at the rally. The student faction of the Islamic Jihad at Al Quds had organized the event.

Brandeis, which established a partnership with Al Quds in 1998, did not issue a public response immediately after the rally, something which promoted outcry from students and faculty. However, Brandeis University President Frederick Lawrence did immediately contact Al Quds University President Sari Nusseibeh, requesting that he issue an unequivocal condemnation of the rally in English and Arabic.

However, Brandeis reported on November 18th that, unfortunately, Nusseibeh’s response was “unacceptable and inflammatory.” As a result, Brandeis announced that it will be severing ties with the Al Quds University, expressing that 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.”

Indeed, far from condemning the rally in his statement to Al Quds students, Nusseibeh warned of the “vilification campaigns by Jewish extremists” 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.” He went on to say that “these opportunists are quick to describe the Palestinians as a people undeserving of freedom and independence…they cite these events as evidence justifying their efforts to muster broad Jewish and western opinion to support their position.”

Brandeis University states that it would reevaluate its relationship with Al Quds University in the future, and noted that, while these recent events call for an immediate suspension of ties, the partnership with Al Quds had been productive in many ways over the years, as it offered faculty and student exchanges that aimed to advance peace and dialogue.

Contributed by CAMERA Intern Ariella Charny

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