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Clever PR Move: Al-Quds University Offers Course on Hate Speech

Offering a summer course on hate speech that is only mentioned on its English website, will only be offered in English, and which focuses on "ethnic cleansing and genocide" suggests Al-Quds University is looking to score PR points but is unrepentant for harboring terrorist celebrations.

The English language version of the Al-Quds University website announces it will have a summer course on Hate Speech and Racism

The English language version of the Al-Quds University website announces it will have a summer course on Hate Speech and Racism
Photo Credit: al-Quds University website

In early November, a rally vilifying Israel and glorifying jihad and martyrdom took place on the campus of Al-Quds University. Following articles about this appearing in various media outlets, there was a public outcry, particularly amongst those in some ways affiliated with American universities that have academic relationships with Al-Quds.

After his initial clumsy public relations move to quell the outcry fizzled, Al-Quds University president Sari Nusseibeh has now moved on to a more subtle form of what still appears to be faux contrition. Al-Quds University, home of the Abu-Jihad Museum, named for one of the most notorious Jew/Israeli/American murderers of all time, will be offering a course this summer on “Hate Speech and Racism.”

Still, this effort is a far more masterful public relations move than Nusseibeh’s original “Blame The ‘Jewish extremists’” for making a big deal about an anti-Israel hate-theater performance on his campus which took place on Nov. 5.

In a move that clearly surprised Nusseibeh, the presidents of two American schools with long-time close links to Al-Quds were not satisfied with his offensive statements and finger-pointing (at Jews!).  As Brandeis President Fred Lawrence said, Nusseibeh’s public response was “unacceptable and inflammatory.”

Because of the rally and Nusseibeh’s response to criticism about it, both Brandeis and Syracuse universities severed their ties to Al-Quds. Brandeis also removed Nusseibeh from the board of advisers of its Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life.

SPECIAL SUMMER COURSE ON HATE SPEECH ONLY APPEARS IN ENGLISH VERSION WEBSITE

In a move that might be lauded as nearly brilliant by westerners, and a sell-out by his own constituency if word gets out, this coming summer the Al-Quds University will offer a summer course on “Hate Speech.”

In a posting on the English version – and only on the English version – of its website, Al-Quds announced that in June and July of 2014, Al-Quds will be offering a course on Hate Speech and Racism.

Of course nothing at all about the summer course on Hate Speech appears on the main, Arabic language version of the Al-Quds University website. And once you get past the perfectly reasonable-sounding title, a few alarm bells may go off.

For one thing, the course on Hate Speech and Racism which Al-Quds University is offering this summer not only does not appear on the Arabic website for the school, the course will be taught in English.  Given that the vast majority of Al-Quds University students speak Arabic, this program appears to be geared for a special audience, not its regular students.

The Nov. 5 rally that started the whole kerfluffle (which actually was simply a repeat of a similar Jew- and Israel-hating rally which took place on May 10 at Al-Quds University) was held entirely in Arabic.  Do you get the sense that the Hate Speech course is not really directed at the people who glorified martyrdom and trampled on the Israeli flag?

There’s more that should raise the eyebrows of a jaundiced Al-Quds/Nusseibeh watcher.

The announcement of the course refers to the “anti-Israeli para-military” rally which sparked the disruption between Al-Quds and the two American schools.  But the language used still seems to place the onus of blame on the “American Jewish sources” which were “critical” of the rally.

There is no mention in the course description of Nusseibeh’s offensive response to Brandeis President Fred Lawrence which blamed “Jewish extremists” for starting a “vilification campaign” against Al-Quds.  The language is softer, but the blame remains squarely on the Jews. Nusseibeh’s “unacceptable and inflammatory” response to the original situation has softened in tone, but not in spirit.

Oddly, the Al-Quds Hate Speech course announcement also mentions that it came about in part in response to “various Jewish-sponsored Schools in the United States with whom Al-Quds University has been building bridges over the past two decades have decided to cut their ties with the University.”  While Brandeis is a school originally sponsored by the Jewish community, the only other school that cut ties with Al-Quds is Syracuse University.  Syracuse is hardly a “Jewish-sponsored” school.

Here is the language used to describe the school and the Hate Speech course on the Al-Quds English version of its website:

In the same spirit of bridge-building that has guided the University over the past two decades, Al-Quds University has decided to hold a special English-speaking summer course June/July 2014 to discuss ways of combating hate-speech and racism, with special emphasis on some of its gruesome consequences, such as wars, ethnic cleansing and genocide, for both its students as well as for a limited number of students from the United States and Europe.

We should all be wary of the words “ethnic cleansing and genocide.” In the war of demonization of Israel, language is one of the primary weapons.  The term “ethnic cleansing” and the word “genocide” are ones routinely and virtually exclusively used by people who seek to vilify Israel, claiming that Israel engages in both “ethnic cleansing” and in “genocide,” with respect to the Palestinian Arab population.

If this course is one in which the Hate Speech and Racism that will be addressed is the fabricated anti-Arab acts by Israel, the course may well do more to split apart the erstwhile partner schools and other interested parties than even the Nov. 5 rally and its aftermath accomplished.

The announcement also publicly informs the reader that Al-Quds “will invite prominent experts to deliver lectures in this course, and will extend an invitation to its critics, including the President of Brandeis, Dr. Frederick Lawrence, to participate.”  Let’s hope the invitation was made privately, first, but given that the language used in this particular sentence is in the future tense, it seems unlikely.

President Lawrence could not be reached before publication of this article.  Either way, naming President Lawrence on the website announcement as someone who will be invited to speak at the course merely adds to the sense that this course is purely a public relations move.

Including as a consultant for the course Professor Yair Auron from the Open University of Israel is certainly an interesting and smart move. Prof. Auron is an expert on the Armenian genocide. However, the focus on genocide again sends a strong signal that Israel is the one likely to be portrayed as the sole aggressor in this course.

OFFERING A COURSE ON HATE SPEECH DOES NOT UNDO THE DECADES OF TERRORISM GLORIFICATION AT AL-QUDS UNIVERSITY

But this is key: the Al-Quds administration describes the school as having been guided by a “bridge-building” spirit for the past two decades. The reality is far different.  Over the course of the past two decades, Al-Quds has engaged repeatedly in the glorification of Palestinian Arab terrorism and of lionizing the most monstrous murderers of Jews, Israelis and Americans.

So long as there remains an Al-Quds Abu Jihad Museum, which honors a man responsible for the murder of scores of Jewish and American children, women, athletes, diplomats and other humans, is Al-Quds really a place with which Brandeis University or any other freedom and justice-loving institution should engage?

So long as Al-Quds is a university in which a huge banner was unabashedly hung to honor Sami Salim Hammad, a former Al-Quds student, because he blew himself up in Tel Aviv, killing 11 people – including an American teenager – and ended his own life, should American universities partner with it?

Given that there was a course named to honor the first female Palestinian Arab homicide bomber, should American universities give it a hecksher of normalcy?

So while it is an excellent public relations move to announce that Al-Quds will have a summer course on Hate Speech, posting the course only on the English version of the school website, offering the course only in English, and refusing to denounce its previous open acts of terrorist glorification while maintaining a school museum dedicated to the “honor” of the “prince of martyrs” strongly suggests that the only bridges Al-Quds University has any interest in actively building and maintaining lead towards those violently anti-Israel factions it hosts on a regular basis.

About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.


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4 Responses to “Clever PR Move: Al-Quds University Offers Course on Hate Speech”

  1. Harry Onickel says:

    I thought it was a 'how to' course.

  2. The dental school at Al-Quds has a working relationship with the dental school at Hebrew University. So far that relationship has not been abrogated.

  3. Anonymous says:

    If you read the description of the summer course, it says that the course is meant: "to discuss ways of combating hate-speech and racism, with special emphasis on some of its gruesome consequences, such as wars, ethnic cleansing and genocide". Also, it is not just for international people, but it is "for both its students as well as for a limited number of students from the United States and Europe". In fact, contrary to what the article seems to suggest, Palestinian students study in English as well, and in fact this is not the only course that the university offers in English.

    Maybe the writer should have read the whole page and not just focus on the title of the course.

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