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Did Palestinian Media Fabricate ‘Israeli Attack’ on University?

Talk about doubling down. In his official public statement, Nusseibeh blamed “Jewish extremists” with starting “vilification campaigns” in order to discredit the reputation of the “prestigious” Al-Quds University. The Al-Quds community, according to Nusseibeh’s published statement, is subjected to Israeli “extremism and violence” and are “denied our rights under occupation.”

Nusseibeh also downplayed the number of participants in the Nov. 5 demonstration, and its prominence on his university.

VIDEO PROOF UNDERMINES NUSSEIBEH’S CLAIMS

But there is a YouTube video of both the Nov. 5 demonstration and an earlier, similar one, from the spring, on the MEMRI website.  There was nothing slapdash, impromptu or easily-overlooked about the demonstrations in which murder, the overthrow of Israel and martyrdom are glorified. There is a large stage on which part of the demonstrations took place, and a huge mural behind and above the stage, glorifying Palestinian Arab “martyrs.”

REPORT OF ISRAELIS SHOOTING 40 ARABS, INCLUDING AL-QUDS STUDENTS, ‘A BIG LIE’
Nusseibeh whined further in his email to the Times of Israel, criticizing Lawrence for never bothering “to express any sympathy for the continued plight of my university — the latest being yet another vicious incursion by the army into the campus.”  The Times of Israel surmised that Nusseibeh “was referring to an incident last week reported by the Palestinian Ma’an news agency.”

There was indeed a large article in Ma’an on Nov. 17, which described the brutalization by Israeli military of Palestinian Arabs in the Al-Quds University area.  According to this report, “Israeli forces shot 40 Palestinians including a large number of university students with rubber-coated steel bullets during a raid on a Palestinian village east of Jerusalem on Sunday afternoon.” There were many pictures and descriptions of students being injured, including by tear gas grenades and sound bombs.

Curiously, Ma’an is the only place that incident was reported.

After searching for hours online to find a single report about the incident other than ones reproduced from Ma’an, The Jewish Press began pummeling the spokespeople for the IDF, the Israeli border patrol and the Jerusalem police, trying to find out what happened.

Finally we spoke with Col. Samuel Ben-Ruby, spokesperson for the Jerusalem Police.  The Jewish Press asked him whether 40 Arabs, including Al Quds students, had been shot on Nov. 17, as had been reported in Ma’an.

“Absolutely not,” Ben-Ruby said.

“What happened was there was a long investigation with the police and the Shin Bet working together, and it concluded on that day.  We arrested about 40 Arabs, mostly from the Hamas terrorist organization.   We detained about eight students, five were taken to court, of those, three were released.  In two weeks time we will know the results of the two who are still being held.”

But how could that be? Ma’an described so much damage, and repeatedly mentioned the rubber bullets and the tear gas and the sound bombs, The Jewish Press explained to Ben-Ruby.

An American journalist, Mya Guaneri, who teaches at Al-Quds was quoted in the article. She said she was present when the incident took place, that there was “tons of broken glass” and that “it looked like the Intifada.”

“That’s a big lie. There were no bullets, there was no tear gas and there were no sound bombs,” Ben-Ruby responded.

“Look,” he asked, “if Israelis shot 40 Arabs, including students, do you really think we wouldn’t have the media from all over the world, including Siberia, camping out at Al-Quds, until every newspaper in the world had the story on their front page?”

The Jewish Press tried several times to reach Mya Guaneri. We told her we had questions about the Ma’an report, but she did not answer.  The Nov. 17 incident is not mentioned in any of Guaneri’s tweets, blog posts or articles. Guaneri does discuss other incidents, on other dates, in which she is harshly critical of Israeli treatment of Palestinian Arabs.

It isn’t only Nusseibeh, however, who relied on the Ma’an report as proof that while what happened at the Nov. 5 demonstration at Al-Quds may have been inappropriate, really, how can you blame the students for acting out when the Israelis shoot at and brutalize them?

In an article in the Nov. 19 Brandeis student newspaper, The Justice, one of the groups critical of the university’s decision to separate from Al-Quds was Brandeis Students for Justice in Palestine.  That group wrote: ““BSJP is disappointed at Brandeis’s decision, which reflects the university’s double standard regarding social justice when it comes to Palestine. We wish a quick recovery to the 40 injured students from the [Israel Defense Force] attack today on al-Quds University.”

So, the attack by the Israelis never happened, 40 Palestinian Arabs were not wounded by rubber bullets, tear gas, sound bombs or anything else.  The media report appears to be a complete fabrication. Yet the President of Al-Quds invoked the incident described in the article to show how insensitive Brandeis President Lawrence is to the plight of the Al-Quds students.  But wouldn’t the president of Al-Quds know the article was fabricated? Wouldn’t he know what actually happened?

The Al-Quds president also repeatedly downplayed the Nov. 5 military demonstration at his university as insignificant, that few if any students were involved, and that it was not typical of his university or his students. Yet the video evidence flatly contradicts Nusseibeh on these counts.

Which university president has gone overboard?

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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