45 thoughts on “Brandeis’ Shame: Severs Academic Ties with Palestinian University – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. Richard.

    The ‘Nazi style’ campus demonstration preceded in time the IDF raid of Abu Dis (not the campus itself). So, that campus demonstration had nothing to IDF incursions onto the campus. The demonstration was not a reaction to IDF incursions on campus.

    The Haaretz article you cit concerns a 10 year old IDF incursion onto the campus.

    You seem to be making excuses for demonstrators you really know nothing about.

    1. @ Pip: You’re losing the forest for the trees. Of course the IDF & Border Police’s ongoing campaign of harrassment, provocation & violation that has gone on for years has EVERYTHING to do with any form of resistance displayed by students on campus, including this rally. In other words, I was portraying a decade long pattern of harrassment. Not to mention that the Israeli assault on Abu Dis (in which 40 students were shot–or did you miss that??) Was clearly in retaliation for the purported IJ rally. Calling it “Nazi style” is highly inflammator6 & I dare you to produce any evudence that proves those individuals were purposely using a Nazi salute.We’re being a little thick, aren’t we? Or did you really not understand my intent?

        1. Seriously now. You expect me, in this day & age to believe that the image of a Nazi flag supposedly flying over Beit Omar is real? The story to which you linked quotes an anonymous resident commenting on it. Frankly, you’ll have to provide more evidence than this to support this claim.

          BTW, the AP story I’ve just added to this post notes the “salute” at Al Quds had nothing to do with Nazis & everything to do with Muslim yearning for Jerusalem. As you know nothing about the views or rituals of Islamic Jihad, I suggest you may want to do more research before you make such charges in future.

          1. @ RS
            I guess Sari Nusseibeh and the university who issued an apology, knows about Islamic Jihad rituals, even less then i do.
            Mr. Silverstein while criticizing Israel, even as venomously and righteously as you do, is tolerable, Justifying and making excuses for Antisemitic behavior which you drift into is unacceptable and repulsive.

            I wish you good luck and all the best.

          2. @ Joe Black: You didn’t even bother to read Pabelmont, did you? You’re making the classic Zionist error of conflating Jews with Israelis. Islamic Jihad has a problem with Israel, not Jews. But that’s why you need them to be making a Hitlerian salute, so you can conflate the two & turn Palestinians into Nazis. How convenient.

            Accuse me of exusing anti-Semitic acts one more time & you’ll get the boot.

          3. @ Joe Black: Now you’ve lied twice on Nusseibeh’s behalf. Here you say he apologized, which he didn’t. Later you say he called the rally “anti-Semitic,” which he didn’t. Reading not your strong suit, eh?

          4. @ Joe Black: I’d be willing to bet that settlers hung that flag as a provocation. Israeli Jews have been known to do this.

            If you can find an interview with a Palestinian villager who says that Palestinians did it or by anyone who says they saw who did it, I’d love to see that.

          5. @ RS

            Funny that you bring the act of a very frustrated person who’s both parents and 3 siblings died in a suicide terror attack (Sbarro restaurant suicide bombing – on 9 August 2001 ) as an example to what Settlers do.

            You are becoming an apologist for Antisemitism, and you do so in a very repulsive way.
            no doubt Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.

          6. @ Joe Black: Nah, you don’t read well. I said that I believed settlers may’ve strung up the Nazi flag in Beit Omar. About the flag which I displayed I said it was something done by “Israeli Jews.” Not “Israeli settlers.” Not “settlers.” Can you tell the difference?

            But you do know there are Israeli Jewish neo-Nazis, don’t you?

            You are becoming an apologist for Antisemitism

            You were warned. Now you’re banned. Don’t slam the door on your way out. And you can let the next hasbara flight know we’re expecting touchdown any moment.

  2. Just for the sake of accuracy — two minor points:

    The article you linked says “40 Palestinians, including students from al-Quds University” were shot — not 40 students.

    It also says that rubber-coated steel bullets were used — not “steel coated rubber bullets,” as you write.

  3. Israel’s infringements on Palestinian institutions of higher education are clearly in violation of both human rights law and international humanitarian law (IHL)

    On behalf of the Committee on Academic Freedom (CAF) of the Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA), I write to express MESA’s concern about the recent repeated attacks against Al-Quds University campus in Abu Dis carried out by IDF forces. As a result of the indiscriminate firing of tear gas canisters and rubber-coated bullets into campus grounds during school hours, at least eight students have sustained rubber-coated bullet injuries and been transferred to the Abu Dis emergency center, while over two dozen students have suffered from tear gas inhalation. Such attacks against an educational institution constitute a direct infringement on academic freedom in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

    Since the beginning of September 2013, an Israeli border police patrol has been stationed near the entrance of the main gate to Al-Quds University. The soldiers have occasionally searched students, inspected their identity cards, and held some for several hours without apparent cause or stated justification. On the 8th of September, the Israeli soldiers attempted to enter the university without permission, and were prevented from doing so by unarmed staff and university guards, which soon led to the Israeli forces to attack the campus, wounding two university guards Radwan Dawoud and Mohammed Darwish.

    According to eyewitness accounts and student testimonies, it was at this point that the Israeli forces launched tear gas canisters and commenced firing rubber bullets indiscriminately. University officials are concerned that these repeated provocations by Israeli patrols are intended to interrupt the university’s preparations for the start of the new academic year, and to create a sense of instability on campus. As a committee charged with monitoring infringements upon academic freedom, we fail to see the how such provocative and aggressive measures against an educational institutional, its students and its staff can be justified.

  4. RS: Fantastic story. Thanks so much. I’m forwarding to academic friends, mostly in Boston.

    This reminds me of an uncomfortable truth: The very rich corrupt politics not only by taking direct political action (bribes, revolving-doors, campaign contributions, payments-for-speeches) BUT ALSO by “charitable” contributions — such as to Universities, for PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARIES (to keep former presidents “in line”), etc.

  5. @ Richard
    The link concerning Sari Nusseibeh’s books is ‘dead’, but I guess you’re referring first of all to his excellent autobiography “Once Upon A Country. A Palestinian Life” that I encourage everyone interested in Palestinian history and culture to read. He writes extensively about the foundation of al-Quds University, the problems with the Apartheid Wall splitting the university in two, and generally the efforts that the Israelis make to prevent the university from functionning.

    And isn’t it ironic: Sari Nusseibeh is on the Advisory Board of the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life at Brandeis University. I hope he’s going to resign.

  6. Corcerning the “Nazi” salute: this a regular accusation from the Hasbara Machine ‘proving’ that the Palestinians really are nothing but modern Nazis. Ben Gourin stated so already before the creation of the State of Israel
    The Roman Salute has been used world-wide, also in the US (known as the Bellamy salute)
    – en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_salute (scroll down for picture of the Bellamy salute)
    The Mexican president is sworn in with the Roman salute so is the président of Taiwan. Here some good friends of the US, the army of El Salvador: (I omit the www in order not to block the posting)
    – rexcurry.net/bellamy-edward-el-salvador-military-socialism.jpg
    The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (marxist) also uses the Roman salute (with the left arm: google PFLP salute photo and you’ll get one).
    The only real fascists in the Middle East who use the Roman salute are the Lebanese Phalange (Kata’eb), but as they’re Israel’s best pals, nobody cares…
    And then this fascist of course:

  7. Richard, I don’t understand why you feel the need to downplay & minimize antisemitism. You’re quick to call Israeli & Jewish leaders islamophobic at the drop of a hat, but you can’t bring yourself to acknowledge that mocking Israel soldiers with Nazi imagery is antisemitic. Even Nusseibeh said as much in his statement! You describe the demonstrators’ “straight-armed salute” but have to quality that it only “resembles” a Nazi salute “in the eyes of ‘Nazi-hunters’ like Breitbart and Washington Free Beacon”.

    Do you think if you talk openly about antisemitism, it will undermine your politics? You insist that “we must put this incident into context” but the two aren’t mutually exclusive. You can call out antisemitism and still talk about context. But the omission here is glaring.

    1. djf:

      I do understand that some people think that hating Israel and its doings is ipso facto “antisemitic”. I don’t feel that way, I don’t think that way, but some people do. It’s a “feeling” thing. But not reasonable.

      I don’t understand where you discern the antisemitic content of Palestinians using what you may consider to have been Nazi-style gestures, salutes. Isn’t anyone allowed to make references to Nazis? Seems to me Israeli politicians do it all the time. Are they antisemitic when they do that?

      Is the trouble that Nazis were WORSE than Israelis are? That it somehow cheapens the imagery to use it for (mere) IDF soldiers? Is the cheapening the crux of the antisemitism? You know, the IDF are awful but not nearly as bad as the Nazis were. Is that the crux of your assertion of antisemitism?

      Is the trouble that using Nazi symbolism in reference to anyone but Nazis CHEAPENS the symbolism (and is thus and for that reason antisemitic: no-one suffered as Jews suffered under Hitler, so don’t pretend that Palestinians suffered as Jews suffered?)? But haven’t Israeli politicians used Nazi slurs for Arafat, Ahmedinejad, and others? And did such uses cheapen the symbolism? And was it condemned as antisemitic?

      Try to think about the problem of communication.

      The Nazis were one of the worst (and best known) systematic persecutors in the recent past. And very well known in Israel as also in the West. What better gesture to copy to symbolize and COMMUNICATE persecution than Nazi symbolism (assuming that that is what actually happened). Of course, the students may have adopted their gesture, their salute, from other models. they may not have had Nazis in mind at all. But assuming they did, what better way to signal their displeasure?

      I don’t know if Israeli soldiers have a distinctive salute, do they? And if the demonstrators had used THAT salute (assuming that a distinctive Israeli salute exists), would that have carried through the emotional task of communicating their displeasure? Would the outside world have understood the gesture? Would you have? I wouldn’t! I don’t know what the distinctive Israeli salute is. We’re talking about communication here, and the symbols must be known to both sides of the communication.

      Would it have been antisemitic to use an Israeli army salute to mock Israeli soldiers?

      Perhaps you call any disrespectful gesture used toward Israelis “antisemitic”. I reject that. Those soldiers are Israelis, first, last, and always (until they leave to live elsewhere — perhaps in Germany), not necessarily Jews. Might even be Druse, you never know. But they are not acting “as Jews” — they are acting under orders as soldiers of the State of Israel. Complaining about soldiers is never “antisemitic”. soldiers are soldiers, not Jews.

      I think a lot of people like to declare that any complaint about a Jew, or a collection of Jews, or even Israel, “antisemitic”. That’s nonsense.

      Argue it a bit more, if you will. Perhaps I’ll understand.

    2. @ djf: As the AP story which I just added to this post makes clear, Islamic Jihad itself just released a statement clarifying that the salute has nothing to do with Nazism. I doubt any of those who marched in that rally even know what Nazis are let alone the Nazi salute. But that of course won’t prevent the hasbara crowd from finding Nazis under every Palestinian bed.

      And who said anything about “mocking Israeli soldiers??” WHere did you get that from? I think a little rationality is in order here. You’ve apparently been spooked by all that Holocaust imagery you absorbed whereever you absorbed it.

      1. “But that of course won’t prevent the hasbara crowd from finding Nazis under every Palestinian bed.”

        Again with the name-calling. Nusseibeh called the demonstrate antisemitic also. Is he part of your “hasbara crowd” too?

        1. Do you have a link of his statement? In the TOI interview he expressed nothing of the sort you claim.

          These accusations are nothing new and return each academic year. See previous claims on Islamophobic sites. Ohio-based Saudi ‘Charity’ Supporting HAMAS Terror University – Sept. 19, 2007 and Brandeis University’s Partnership With Hamas Linked, Al Quds University Underwritten By Ford Foundation – August 27, 2008.

          As RS has explained, the Islamic Jihad does not display the Nazi salute. The same salute can be seen by Hamas, Qassam Brigades and Hezbollah. The demonstration at Al-Quds University on November 5 was likely part of the remembrance to last year’s victory and the anniversary of Stones of Baked Clay. Especially the assassination of Ahmed Jabari is commemorated (Nov. 14).

          1. I once defended Nusseibeh from the charge of antisemitism
            and I would still do so, in the same circumstances. Your statement
            that “Nusseibeh said nothing of the sort!” is not quite accurate.
            In his original statement he averred that: “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 the statement
            was in response to a particular event within those “events or
            scenes” he alludes to in this paragraph, and as he ends the
            paragraph on the note that such an occurrence might imply that its
            message is shared by the university, and that since the university
            opposes “inhumane, anti-Semitic, fascist, and Nazi ideologies.” it
            is reasonable to conclude that he regards this occurrence as
            “inhumane, anti-Semitic, fascist, and Nazi”. He is of course not
            coming outright and saying it , I suspect, for the same reason that
            he all but conceals the reference to the Holocaust under the much
            greater moral outrage of Palestinian displacement.

          2. As you said, everything you said is “alluded to,” meaning he inferred it in very general, oblique terms. That’s certainly not sufficient to label it as Nusseibeh’s acknowledgement of the rally being anti Semitic.

  8. Richard,

    1. Do you know what role, if any, the Brandeis Board of Trustees had in this decision? I’m not familiar with the particulars of the affiliation with Al-Quds but it seems to me that a decision to sever formal ties with another institution would fall under the purview of the BoT (unless of course the decision was delegated to the Uni Pres).

    2. “Third, there is a great danger in making academic decisions using non-academic criteria. In this case, the decision to sever ties is purely a political and financial consideration. Schools that make major decisions on this basis risk losing or tarnishing their academic reputation.”

    I’m with you on the political consideration part, however, isn’t it especially difficult, if not impossible, for a private institution to ignore or not take into consideration the financial impact and/or consequences of its decisions?

    1. @ Ari Greenfield: The president was inundated I’m sure with phone calls from mega donors. As for the nature of the agreement, I’m trying to delve into that now. I don’t know if it’s a matter solely at the president’s discretion or whether departments weigh in on it as well. Will let you know what I discover.

      Of course private universities need to consider financial consequences in their actions. But the Rose Art Museum fiasco shows what happens when you use financial considerations as your sole criteria. The Al Quds decision shows what happens when you use a combination of political & financial considerations. All these decisions excluded academic considerations, which is what my argument is all about. Academic considerations always should be foremost. IF they’re not then you’re no longer an academic institution but a weird hybrid of academic-Jewish-pro-Israel-nationalist.

      1. @Richard

        I read an article that said budgets cuts in recent years have reduced the affiliation to a facility exchange program. It did not provide further details.

        1. @ Ari Greenfield: I really doubt that whatever affiliation either Brandeis or Syracuse had will harm Al Quds in any substantial way. In fact, most Palestinians will rally around the school for standing up to such American ‘bullies.’ But eventually I believe it will harm both U.S. schools.

  9. Statement by Brandeis president – Confronting hate speech

    I am convinced that as a community, we agree that certain kinds of demonstrations are unacceptable. The demonstration at Al-Quds University last week clearly expressed hatred, and was steeped in vitriolic anti-Semitism. Such a demonstration certainly has no place on the Brandeis campus, and its occurrence on the campus of one of our international partners disturbed me deeply; I was outraged.

    While we cannot supervise the speech and activities on the campuses of all our many international partners, where such events fly in the face of our communal values we should, and will, step forward and speak out. I have spoken with the President of Al-Quds and expressed my concerns. I have also asked a delegation of faculty visiting Israel next week to undertake further discussion about specific issues that have been brought to our attention. All of this input will allow us to review our relationship, as we should with any partner when there are serious concerns about their alignment with our institutional values.

    In this complex and significant issue of defining the boundaries of free expression, we have much to learn from our university’s namesake, Louis D Brandeis. He was one of the great architects of the jurisprudence that still underpins our great First Amendment freedoms of speech and expression. Yet he also knew that we were neither obliged nor permitted to remain silent in response to evil: “Neutrality is at times a greater sin than belligerence.” I hope that our further consideration of these issues can be guided by his wisdom.

    For Brandeis president Lawrence, the subject is personal:

    Brandeis: What are the Ethics of Hate Crimes Legislation?

    Hate crimes legislation is of particular interest at Brandeis University due to the scholarship and commitments of Brandeis University President Frederick M. Lawrence – one of the nation’s leading scholars on the topic. His book Punishing Hate: Bias Crimes Under American Law (Harvard University Press, 2002) is one of the key texts on this subject. This summer, an article by Lawrence about hate and the Trayvon Martin case, “To What Extent Did Race Play a Role in the Death of Trayvon Martin?” was published by the Huffington Post.

  10. brandeis.edu/aqu/news/ -Error 404- page not found!

    IMO, getting rid of the Al Quds University partnership was just waiting to happen. The demonstration in November was a needed provocation to make the final decision. It won’t be a suspension, it is very definite. The webpage of the Al-Quds University/Brandeis University Partnership [cached] has been deleted. Most of the information about Jimmy Carter Brandeis visit and the students travel to the West Bank – Students Crossing Boundaries – have been erased.

    Israeli-Palestinian conflict should have a greater role in campus discussions

  11. President Lawrence, it matters whose free speech is entertained …

    Taking Reins At Brandeis At Tough Time

    (The Jewish Week) July 13, 2010 – Brandeis has drawn criticism for the controversy over last spring’s invitation to Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren to serve as commencement speaker.

    The controversy over Oren’s appearance at the school — he delivered his speech and received an honorary degree to warm applause, according to news reports — was exaggerated in the media, largely fueled by agitators who were not part of the Brandeis community, Lawrence told The Jewish Week in a telephone interview.

    The campus debate over the propriety of honoring a representative of a country that some critics consider a repressive, occupying power encouraged an open discussion of free speech values — which Lawrence, who specialized in free speech cases while working as an attorney, views as crucial in an university atmosphere.

    “If free speech should flourish anywhere, it is within the halls of a university,” he wrote last year in his online blog after a student group at GWU posted flyers containing a profanity. Lawrence titled his blog “Putting the F in Freedom of Speech.”

    “Free speech issues are always hard”; one person’s open expression of opinions is likely to upset another person. Lawrence declined to say how he would have handled the Oren controversy were he at Brandeis earlier this year, but said he generally favors unfettered speech unless one party is in physical danger.

  12. Dynamic Leader Puts Oomph Back in Brandeis

    (The Forward) Sept. 21, 2011 – Lawrence’s predecessor, Reinharz drew barbs from students and faculty who thought he was stifling speech to placate donors. He was criticized for his actions regarding former president Jimmy Carter’s visit to Brandeis in 2007 to talk about his book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,” which many Jews view as anti-Israel. Reinharz was out of town during the president’s speech, and some people viewed this as a snub and the easy way out. In 2006, he was the flashpoint for protests by students who were upset about the sudden dismantling of a Palestinian art exhibit from the university library.

    Over the summer [2011], Lawrence gave a hint of how he might deal with conflicts regarding Israel. In June he spent two weeks in Israel, meeting with alumni and visiting partnership sites such as Al-Quds University, an Arab university in Jerusalem. He chronicled his journey on his presidential blog, and his post about his positive experience at Al-Quds provoked a rare missive from a reader.

    Irwin Z. Hoffman, a 1964 Brandeis alumnus, wrote that he was disappointed that Lawrence’s account of his trip “does not seem to include even a smidge of critical reflection on Israeli policies, on the occupation, on ‘social justice’ as it pertains to the Palestinian people.” Lawrence responded, “This was an educational mission, not a political one.”

    Brandeis University Students for Justice in Palestine Disrupt Town-Hall Meeting with Israeli Knesset Members

  13. In Between Two Fires – Al-Quds University President Dr. Sari Nusseibeh

    (JPost) Aug. 29, 2012 – Sari Nusseibeh is once again under attack for agreeing to cooperate with Israeli universities and academics.

    Palestinian academics published a statement strongly criticizing Nusseibeh for being part of a German-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian academic project aimed at enhancing understanding between different cultures. The project has been initiated by al-Quds University and the Hebrew University in cooperation with The University of Berlin.

    The academics denounced the project as a form of normalization with Israel and pointed out that cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian academics was in violation of a ban issued by the Palestinian Council for Higher Education.

    Sari Nusseibeh, a Vice-President of Interlitq, cited in “Palestinian Al-Quds University Fights for Israeli Recognition”

  14. Once lauded in Israeli media for opposing the BDS academic movement, Dr. Nusseibeh is now targeted by a US Islamophobic mindset and suffers a boycott himself.

    Success BDS movement rooted in ‘soft power’

    (Ynet News) May 24, 2013 – The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement’s biggest success is rooted in its ‘soft power.’ The ability to influence behavior through values, policies, institutions and culture, as opposed to ‘hard’ or coercive power exercised through military or economic pressures, plays a tremendous role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    Using soft power pro-Palestinian groups have been able to hijack the narrative of peace, justice and human rights while in reality they yearn for Israel’s destruction. One of their most important missions has been to convince notable individuals to join their campaign.

    All of this takes place despite the well-understood fact thatBDS explicitly undermines legitimate academic discourse and is intellectually disreputable given its racist nature. Even the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) just last week, reiterated its opposition to academic boycotts stating, “in view of the association’s longstanding commitment to the free exchange of ideas, we oppose academic boycotts.”

    In contrast to Barghouti, Butler and so many others, leaders like Sari Nusseibeh, the president of Al Quds University and Menachem Magidor, president of Hebrew University produced a joint declaration stating that only, “through cooperation based on mutual respect, rather than boycotts or discrimination, that our common goals can be achieved …Our disaffection with, and condemnation of, acts of academic boycotts is predicated on the principles of academic freedom, human rights and equality between nations and among individuals.”

    The Declaration of Principles of Palestinian-Israeli International Cooperation in Scientific and Academic Affairs

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