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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Fred Lawrence’

Dear Fred Lawrence, President of Brandeis University

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

An Open Letter to the President of Brandeis University

Dear President Lawrence:

I do not want to take up too much of your time. I understand that you are a busy man and that you have been tasked with running a university whose tradition of upholding excellence and moral resoluteness traces back to the days of its founding.  But it is in that same spirit of excellence that I feel compelled–as a simple citizen of this great country–to question your recent decision to rescind the honorary degree you were initially going to bestow upon Ms. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a human rights activist and feminist who has done so much to advance the cause of women’s rights in the world.

I understand that there are students at Brandeis University who take issue with Ms. Hirsi Ali’s views on Islam and the Muslim world. Moreover, many in the muslim community feel offended and insulted by her views on this topic. Indeed, they have pressured you into making this decision.

What a beautiful country we live in, President Lawrence, where students and citizens are able to voice their opinions in a free and open society. Yet here is a stark irony. These students have the temerity to critique someone because of her views, but they do not see fit in affording her the same right to critique views she too deems insulting. In making your decision you have chosen to sanction one topic of criticism while denying the right of individuals to criticize another.

But sir, you must see the moral ramifications of the decision you have made. It is a question of priorities and you have tragically made the mistake of choosing the wrong one. In choosing to revoke the honorary degree that Ms. Hirsi Ali so richly deserves, you have implicitly placed greater value upon the “feelings” of individuals over the lives of hundreds of thousands of women around the world. Those criticizing her here, in America, have the privilege of living in a society where they are able to speak. But who will speak for the others?

Who will speak for Sarah and Amina Said, two teenagers in the prime of their life who were murdered by their father in 2008 in Texas, their bodies left bloodied and mutilated in a Taxi cab because they were considered to be too “Western.” Will you speak for them sir, or is that too going to be found to be too “insulting” to certain individuals to discuss? Will that also be too “offensive” to be grappled with?

Who will speak for Morsal, a German Afghani young woman of 16, stabbed twenty-times in a parking lot by her brother? Who will speak for Rasha Abu Arra killed in the West Bank in a so-called “honor killing.” She was a mother of six children and her body was left hanging on a tree. She could not exercise her right to free speech. She could not exercise her right to disagree. She could not exercise her right to freely express. So who will speak for her? Will you speak for her? Or are the petty hurt feelings of dissenting naysayers worth more than her life?

Who will speak for Leyla Hussein, whose genitals were ripped open and sliced apart with a blade when she was only 7 years old in Somalia? Will you speak for her, Mr. Lawrence? Or will you simply tell her that this issue cannot be discussed and that a woman who takes up her cause and the cause of thousands of other women cannot be heard because people take “offense” to her.

Will you speak for Ayesha, forced into a marriage by her family in Pakistan and repeatedly raped during a four month ordeal? She did not have the luxury of worrying about “offending” people by her speech since her freedom was snatched away from her as her husband forced himself on her routinely.

Brandeis Caves to Pressure, Withdraws Honor to Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

In a complete collapse of rectitude, Brandeis University’s president Fred Lawrence issued a statement on Tuesday evening, April 8, announcing the withdrawal of women’s and human rights champion Ayaan Hirsi Ali as a recipient of an honorary degree from the school at this year’s commencement.

For two days Muslim students and supporters raged against the decision to honor Ali because, they claimed, she is Islampohobic.

Ali was born in Mogadishu, Somalia. In 1992 she escaped an impending arranged marriage to a relative, running to the Netherlands, where she learned the language and established a life. She rose to become a member of the Dutch parliament, where she worked to further the integration of non-Western immigrants into Dutch society.

In 2004, Ali made a film with her friend, Theo Van Gogh. That film, “Submission,” is about the oppression of women in conservative Islamic cultures.

After “Submission” was aired on Dutch television, an Islamic extremist murdered Van Gogh who was enraged by the portrayal of Islam.  A letter pinned to his body contained a death threat to Ali. She eventually fled Holland and Ayaan Hirsi Ali now lives in the United States.

Ali evolved from being a devout Muslim to one who questioned her faith, to ultimately and resolutely rejecting it.

“I left the world of faith, of genital cutting and forced marriage for the world of reason and emancipation. After making this voyage I know that one of these two worlds is simply better than the other. Not for its gaudy gadgetry, but for its fundamental values.” That is a quote from Ali’s book, “Infidel.”

Ali has been extremely and indeed harshly critical of the Islamic world in which she suffered, both as a child in Africa, and also as a hunted creature, in Holland, from the angry immigrants who brought with them to Europe a profound inability to accept criticism of Islam.

And now, here in America, Ali is still being hounded by those who refuse to live by the standards of the West, of tolerance, of robust confrontations, but ones not knife-edged with intimidation.

The Facebook Page denouncing Ali and the decision to honor her at Brandeis’s 2014 Commencement decried her for her “hate speech.” The Muslim Students Association claimed that honoring her “is a direct violation of Brandeis University’s own moral code as well as the rights of all Brandeis students.”

Most chillingly, while the students acknowledged Ali had experienced “terrible things in her life,” their bottom line was “we will not tolerate an attack at our faith.”

And so they issued a fatwa: the invitation to Ali had to be rescinded. The school newspaper, The Justice (yes, the irony!) ran both a “news article” and an editorial denouncing the decision to give Ali an honorary degree.

Brandeis University president Fred Lawrence echoed the students (and a large number of faculty members, including the Women’s Studies professors) in his statement:

Following a discussion today between President Frederick Lawrence and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ms. Hirsi Ali’s name has been withdrawn as an honorary degree recipient at this year’s commencement. She is a compelling public figure and advocate for women’s rights, and we respect and appreciate her work to protect and defend the rights of women and girls throughout the world. That said, we cannot overlook certain of her past statements that are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values.  For all concerned, we regret that we were not aware of these statements earlier.

Commencement is about celebrating and honoring our extraordinary students and their accomplishments, and we are committed to providing an atmosphere that allows our community’s focus to be squarely on our students. In the spirit of free expression that has defined Brandeis University throughout its history, Ms. Hirsi Ali is welcome to join us on campus in the future to engage in a dialogue about these important issues.

In other words, Ali’s decades of devotion to helping women enslaved by misogynistic practitioners of the Muslim faith – who dominate the governments of Muslim countries – was neutered by the pronunciamento by students that they “would not tolerate an attack on [their] faith.” And in still other words, on American campuses criticism of religion – which has been a fixture of campus life – is no longer permitted. What words, what thoughts will be deemed unacceptable next?

Guess What: 2013 Was a Great Pro-Israel Year on US Campuses!

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

For years those engaged on the pro-Israel side of the battle for hearts and minds of American college students have watched in horror as anti-Israel forces – whether they call themselves “pro-Israel” or not – metastasized on campuses.

The Israel-demonization events, the infiltration by Israel vilifiers into what were formerly at least moderately pro-Israel institutions, and the disruptions of Israeli or pro-Israel events, were met almost always with either complicity or a hands-off response from the academic administrations, faculty, and often eventhe organized Jewish leadership on campuses.

Things were so bad that Arab Israeli journalist Khaled abu Toameh famously wrote that on his speaking tours of U.S. campuses, he found more sympathy for Hamas than he does in Ramallah.

This is how abu Toameh analyzed the ugliness spread across American academia:

What is happening on these campuses is not in the frame of freedom of speech. Instead, it is the freedom to disseminate hatred and violence. As such, we should not be surprised if the next generation of jihadists comes not from the Gaza Strip or the mountains and mosques of Pakistan and Afghanistan, but from university campuses across the U.S.

But things were beginning to look quite different in 2013.

There has been a sea change on U.S. campuses this year, carried out by those who refused to back down when false claims of Palestinian Arab victimhood or Israeli brutality were raised.

Hallelujah. So we are fortunate to be able to write a list of Top Twelve Pro-Israel Bright Lights on U.S. campuses. What follows is the first installment. Part II will run later this week.

*******

1. Far and away the most significant example of this refusal to accept the tired meme of Israel As The-Worst-Human-Rights-Abuser -And-Biggest-Enemy-of-Peace is The Backlash to the American Studies Association’s vote to boycott Israeli Academic Institutions.  We now know that 95 universities across the United States have rejected and publicly condemned the ASA boycott of Israel.

That includes the most prestigious private schools, state schools, schools at which anti-Israel activity had been flourishing, and almost every other kind of American academic institutions. Condemnations poured in from the likes of Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, Cornell, University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, Yale, University of Chicago, Penn State, Northwestern, Goucher, as well as industry-wide associations of professors and of universities. Several schools, such as Brandeis, Penn State, Kenyon and Indiana University summarily withdrew their membership in the ASA because the boycott so clearly reflected a loss of the association’s mission, an affront to academic freedom and a discriminatory singling out of a single nation for condemnation.

2. and 3. A tie for second place goes to two relatively new leaders of at least nominally Jewish institutions, each of whom staked new ground, rejecting their predecessors’ policies for tolerating abusive positions towards Israel.

Eric Fingerhut became president and CEO of Hillel International this past summer.  For years, many Hillels across the United States have chosen an aggressively passive response to anti-Israel events on campuses, choosing to have their own quiet events instead of confronting viciously anti-Israel events filled with misinformation and lies about the Jewish State. Hillels have even welcomed some of the worst offenders into their buildings or even their own events, in the hopes of showing the enemy that they are really good people. It’s been a disaster.

This past fall the Hillel group at suburban Philadelphia’s Swarthmore College decided it would publicly challenge the pro-Israel guidelines set by Hillel International.  Students bridled against being forbidden the “right” to invite speakers who engage in “demonization, delegitimization or applying double standards to Israel,” or support the economic and legal warfare movement known as the Boycott of, Divestment from and Sanctions against Israel.  Swarthmore Hillel students voted unanimously to reject the guidelines and declare theirs an “Open Hillel.” And then they received a surprise.

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

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

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.

Abbas Honors Al-Quds U ‘Hero’ Responsible for Most Dead Jews

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

The acting leader of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, has awarded the Star of Honor to the arch terrorist known as Abu Jihad, as reported by Palestinian Media Watch on Dec. 11. The PA isn’t the only Palestinian Arab institution to honor this mass murderer. So does the former partner of Brandeis University: Al-Quds University.

Abu Jihad, whose nom not de guerre was Khalil Al-Wazir, was responsible for the murder of 124 Israelis. He was  a co-founder of Fatah, he was its military strategist and he was the second-in-command to Yassir Arafat. Abu-Jihad helped form the Shabibah – the Fatah Youth Movement. The Shabibah formed the nucleus for the first “intifada.”

Abu Jihad is significant not only for the many Israelis whose lives he cut short, but also because he was involved in some of the most heinous murders, including the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre, in which 11 Israeli athletes were murdered, and the 1978 Coastal Road massacre, in which 38 civilians were murdered, including 11 children.

It was not only the number of Israelis Abu-Jihad murdered that makes him so special to the Palestinian Arab leaders. Abu-Jihad also was responsible for the torture and murder of two American diplomats in Khartoum, in 1973.

He was part of the team that kidnapped, tortured and then murdered two American diplomats, U.S. Ambassador Cleo Noel and Charge d’Affaires George Curtis Moore, in Khartoum, Sudan, in 1973.

Those diplomats were kidnapped in order to force a trade in which the U.S. would release prisoner Sirhan Sirhan, the Palestinian Arab who murdered American Senator Robert F. Kennedy in 1968. The deal went bad and the diplomats were murdered.

In the ceremony marking the posthumous awarding of the Star of Honor to Abu Jihad, Abbas signed a decree describing the esteem in which Abu Jihad, mass murderer of athletes, children, and American diplomats:

in recognition of his honorable national role and his history of struggle as one of the founding leaders of the Palestinian revolution, and out of great appreciation for his high position and significance in the defense of Palestine as a country, a nation, and a cause. He was the model of a true fighter and devoted leader [and] through his commitment and contribution he left his mark on the history of the Palestinian revolution and the PLO.

But the honorifics bestowed on Abu Jihad’s widow and the glorification of his murderous past is not limited to the Palestinian Arab leader Abbas.

BRANDEIS FACULTY REPORT WHITEWASHES AL-QUDS UNIVERSITY LONG HISTORY OF HONORING TERRORISM

The Palestinian Arab university, Al-Quds, the one from which Brandeis University recently severed its ties, also glorifies the mass murderer Abu Jihad.  It is at Al-Quds University that the Abu Jihad Museum, originally known as the Al-Quds Abu-Jihad Center for Political Prisoners, is located.

Arab Palestinian political prisoners, of course, are those terrorists who have been caught. The official university website explained that the Center is named for Khalel Al-Wazir. His nickname, Abu-Jihad, means “father of the holy war.”

Abu Jihad is honored by al-Quds University in the way Brandeis honors the scholars and philanthropists whose names grace buildings and research centers on its campus.

But you’d never know this based on the Al-Quds Brandeis Partnership Report authored by several Brandeis faculty members, including Daniel Terris, and released on Monday, Dec. 9.  That report does its best to exonerate Al-Quds University president Sari Nusseibeh in particular, and the university in general.

The Report whitewashes the Nov. 5 demonstration at which Al-Quds students trampled on pictures of the Israeli flag while attired in full military regalia, and sang songs extolling the beauty of martyrdom, and ignores the fact that this demonstration was almost an exact replica of one that took place in the spring, on May 10, as shown in this YouTube video. The excuses offered for the fall demonstration ring particularly hollow given it had already happened before.  And it is just plain hard to ignore the many other ways in which terrorism is glorified at Al-Quds. But the Terris Report manages that feat.

The Terris Report, astonishingly, pooh-poohs the language used by Nusseibeh in his public response to the Nov. 5 demonstration, in which he begins by blaming “Jewish extremists” for inciting criticism against his university. It was that language that Brandeis President Fred Lawrence described as “unacceptable and inflammatory,” and which led to the disruption in the Al-Quds-Brandeis relationship.

It is useful to line up the Nusseibeh statement and its characterization in the Terris Report. One might conclude, based upon its treatment, that the Terris Report was written on behalf of the Al-Quds administration, rather than as an objective factfinding report prepared by Brandeis faculty for the Brandeis administration.

The Terris Report concludes with a call for bravery.  But the bravery this Report calls for is the bravery to overlook the repeated glorification of murderers – murderers of Jews, murderers of Americans, murderers of children – because hey, it’s a tough neighborhood.  “Supporting the Al-Quds University administration in these efforts will take courage on the part of Brandeis University.”

They continue:

We recognize that abhorrent speech events happen on all college campuses, including our own, but these events do not at all speak for the university as a whole; and that universities are charged with the challenge of education students for a civil society in which such acts will not recur. It is thus crucial to exploit such student events as opportunities involving heightened attention to the salience of the values of tolerance rather than as occasions for rupturing a longstanding institutional relationship.

Not surprisingly, there is no mention anywhere in the Terris Report of the longstanding honors paid to Arab mass terrorists at Al-Quds University, in particular the murderers of children, athletes, diplomats or American teenagers.

That would probably require too much courage.

Did Palestinian Media Fabricate ‘Israeli Attack’ on University?

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

In what threatened to become a public battle between two university presidents vying to prove each one’s constituency as the true victim, Sari Nusseibeh, president of Al Quds University, cited what appears to be a completely fabricated news report, one that he would have to know was fabricated. That article described the Israeli army’s “vicious incursion” on Nov. 17, during which Al-Quds students were shot.

Nusseibeh complained that the Brandeis University president “did not express sympathy” for the plight of his university. The president of Brandeis University refused to engage in such a media debate.

Al-Quds University has been the subject of many news articles recently.  Brandeis University, founded in 1948 as a refuge for Jews who were largely shunned elsewhere, began a sister university relationship in 2003 with Al-Quds University, the Palestinian Arab university located in eastern Jerusalem.

The relationship continued for many years, despite numerous examples of Al-Quds University being an institution that honors terrorists who murdered many Israelis, other Jews, and Americans.

However, when a large group of Arabs were photographed during a Nov. 5 demonstration at the Al-Quds campus in paramilitary gear, with arms raised in what resembled a Nazi salute, trampling on pictures of Israeli flags, and honoring suicide bombers, the Brandeis administration finally called for an explanation.

Brandeis’s relatively new president, Frederick Lawrence, contacted his counterpart, Al-Quds University president Sari Nusseibeh, whom he asked to denounce the demonstration, and to do so in both English and Arabic.  Instead, the response Nusseibeh posted on the Al-Quds website and sent to Lawrence, attacked “extremist Jews” for “exploiting” a situation and daring to criticize and delegitimize Al-Quds University.

That was the last straw for Lawrence and for Brandeis University.  The formal relationship between the two universities was suspended by Brandeis on Nov. 18 – not irrevocably, but certainly for the near future.

Because Nusseibeh was the one who issued the insulting statement – truly a slap in the face to President Lawrence as well as anyone else who had sought an explanation for a sister university publicly condoning Israel and Jew hatred – on Nov. 21, Brandeis also removed Nusseibeh from the board of advisors of the Brandeis International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life.

There were some who were highly critical of Brandeis for disrupting the relationship between the schools, especially those who believe with all their might that the relationship might blossom into closer relations and better understandings between Jews and other Americans and Arab Muslims.

But the president of Al-Quds seemed stunned by Brandeis’s strong-willed response.  An article appeared in the Times of Israel in which Nusseibeh suddenly claimed that he condemned the Nov. 5 demonstration.  But because the public response on the Al-Quds website and its translation which was provided to Brandeis’s Lawrence by Nusseibeh himself was so utterly lacking in contrition, and instead blamed “extremist Jews” for essentially overreacting to something that was unimportant, Lawrence stood firm and refused to undo the separation.

NUSSEIBEH THEN TURNS ON BRANDEIS PRESIDENT

Nusseibeh was not content to simply bide his time and wait until he would likely to be welcomed back into the bosom of Brandeis University, or to some other American universities eager to claim kinship with a real, live Palestinian Arab university.

Nope.

Instead, as reported in the Times of Israel, Nusseibeh then reached out again to its editor in a long email, arguing that Brandeis’s Lawrence had “gone overboard” in response to the Nov. 5 demonstration at Al-Quds.

In what way did Lawrence go overboard?

Well, in addition to suspending the relationship between the two schools and suspending Nusseibeh from the Center for Ethics board, Nusseibeh suggested Lawrence mischaracterized the letter Nusseibeh addressed to his students in response to the demonstration. He wrote that Lawrence “had chosen to read my letter to students as ‘inflammatory.’” In part, Nusseibeh went on, because Lawrence “will not accept that there are such people as ‘Jewish extremists.’”

Brandeis U Severs Ties with Al Quds over Defense of Pro-Nazi Demo

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

Brandeis University President Fred Lawrence posted a public notice on Monday, November 18, suspending – effective immediately – a longstanding sister university relationship between Brandeis and Al-Quds University.

Al-Quds students or supporters had paraded in the Al-Quds courtyard in paramilitary gear, raising the Nazi salute and trampling on drawings of Israeli flags.

It must have been particularly painful for an academic like Lawrence to find himself forced to stand on the precipice straddling “two of our most cherished values – values that appear to be in conflict: a robust respect for free expression and a culture that values civility, decency, and dignity.”

Most Brandeis students with whom The Jewish Press spoke, were glad that President Lawrence suspended the relationship.  In fact, most were not even aware that there was any relationship between the two institutions.  It was the media firestorm about the Nazi-like parade that ignited the concern.

HAD AL-QUDS PREVIOUSLY BEEN A PEACE-LOVING SISTER UNIVERSITY?

But there have been not just red flags, but flashing lights and sonic booms that should have alerted the willfully  blind administration of Brandeis University from the get-go that Al-Quds was not brimming over with desire to be besties with an American university with vaguely Jewish ties.

For example, in April of 2006, a huge poster was hung in one of the al Quds buildings to honor Sami Salim Hammad, a former Al-Quds student, who blew himself up in Tel Aviv, killing 11 people – including an American teenager – and ending his own life.

Al-Quds offered a ‘human rights and democracy’ course named in honor of Wafa Idriss, the first Arab Palestinian female homicide bomber.

And Al-Quds is home to the Abu Jihad Museum. The museum is named for Khalil Al-Wazir, whose “nom de guerre,” abu Jihad, means “father of the holy war.”

Abu Jihad is linked to several of the most horrific incidents of Jewish terror in modern memory, including the Munich Olympics (11 murdered) and the Coastal Road Massacre (38 dead, including 13 children).

Abu Jihad’s bloodlust was not limited to Israelis. He was part of the team that kidnapped, tortured and then murdered two American diplomats, U.S. Ambassador Cleo Noel and Charge d’Affaires George Curtis Moore, in Khartoum, Sudan, in 1973. Those diplomats were kidnapped in order to force a trade in which the U.S. would release prisoner Sirhan Sirhan, the Palestinian Arab who murdered American Senator Robert F. Kennedy in 1968.

Abu Jihad is lovingly referred to on the Al-Quds website as “the prince of the martyrs of Palestine.”

But a new Brandeis president, Fred Lawrence, finally pulled the plug after students at Al-Quds, in full black military regalia, including black flags, raised their hands in the Nazi salute, while trampling over drawings of Israeli flags. Well, actually, no, it wasn’t then that Lawrence pulled the plug, he was still willing to give al Quds the benefit of the doubt until hearing an explanation directly from Al-Quds officials.

INITIAL BRANDEIS RESPONSE

Six days after the Al-Quds “Nazi Parade,” Lawrence wrote on his blog, Brandeis First, that he was told the Nov. 5 activities 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 are not acceptable on their campus and the University administration is conducting a full investigation.”

By Nov. 15, Lawrence came out with an unequivocal statement that, yes, free speech is important, no doubt about it, but

we may defend the right to free speech, and still be clear that some art is flawed, and that some words and actions, especially those espousing violence, are abhorrent. And we should be willing to say so.

Lawrence explained to the school community and the public that he conveyed his concerns to Al-Quds president Sari Nusseibeh, and requested that Nusseibeh issue an unequivocal condemnation of the demonstrations to be published in both Arabic and English.  And then Lawrence awaited comment from the head of his partner school.

RESPONSE FROM AL-QUDS

Sunday evening, Nov. 17, the response arrived. It was not what Lawrence was expecting.  It was not a diplomatic response distancing itself from what Lawrence had described as actions “clearly expressing hatred and steeped in vitriolic anti-Semitism.”

Instead, the response turned the concerns raised by Lawrence and others who were, as Lawrence said he was, “outraged” by the demonstration, and….wait for it…the blame was placed on the Jews!

The response was written in Arabic, addressed to the students of al Quds University.  President Nusseibeh sent President Lawrence the English translation.

The statement from Al-Quds, rather than an apology or a bland distancing of itself from the demonstration, goes in the opposite direction.

The Al-Quds statement blamed “Jewish extremists” with starting “vilification campaigns” in order to discredit the reputation of the “prestigious” Al-Quds University.  It is the Al-Quds community, according to the published statement, which is subjected to “extremism and violence” and are “denied our rights under occupation.”

And if that wasn’t enough of a kick in the teeth for Brandeis, Nusseibeh also made clear what it is that he and his community find so offensive about the Nazis.  Describing the students at Al-Quds on Nov. 5 as having engaged in a “mock military display,” Nusseibeh again seized the victim card:

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.

Ah, yes, Nazism was a blight on world history because, and only because it caused what the Palestinian Arabs call “al Nakba,” the “catastrophe”: the re-birth of Israel.

Nusseibeh rails on as if he were addressing the United Nations about some alleged effort by the state of Israel to humiliate Arabs, steal their lands, and keep them under subjugation, rather than discussing the request by an American university president to explain outrageous anti-Semitic acts on the campus of a sister university:

As occurred recently, these opportunists [the Jewish extremists] 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 the settlements and the confiscation of land, and prevents Palestinians from achieving our freedom.

BRANDEIS BREAKS IT OFF

Even for a school that held on to a relationship with a Palestinian Arab university steeped in homicidal hatred for Jews and the Jewish state, this went too far.

Giving him due credit, Lawrence did not mince words.

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.

“The decision to sever the relationship between Brandeis and Al-Quds is long overdue,” Brandeis sophomore Dor Cohen told The Jewish Press late Monday evening. “Refusing to condemn the Nazi-esque parade is completely contrary to the ideals our academic institutions are founded upon.”

Cohen commended Lawrence on his swift action, although the politics major said he believed the relationship between the two universities was “highly incomprehensible” to begin with.

Brandeis senior Rafi Abramowitz was incensed by Nusseibeh’s statement.

“Until the statement was issued, we had no idea whether the Al-Quds administration backed the students, but for them to call what happened a ‘smear campaign by Jewish extremists’ is very telling,” Abramowitz said.  The business major was very appreciative of the action taken by Lawrence.  He just wished that a forceful denunciation of the Nov. 5 activities had come sooner. “He should have come out immediately and said: ‘this is not what our partnership is about.’”

Still, Abramowitz had only good things to say about Lawrence as president of the school. “President Lawrence has a great presence on campus, he comes to services, he invites students to his home for dinners, he goes to games.”

Abramowitz was also glad that the school refused to continue its relationship with Al-Quds, given the demonstration and the Nusseibeh’s statement. “People have begun to think that Brandeis represents that mentality of liberalism that tolerates abuse of Israel.  Most students are either positive to very positive in their feelings about Israel.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/brandeis-u-severs-ties-with-al-quds-over-defense-of-pro-nazi-demo/2013/11/19/

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