(JTA) – Brandeis University has suspended its partnership with the Palestinian Al-Quds University.
Brandeis University President Frederick Lawrence made the announcement Monday, saying the university will re-evaluate the relationship in the future. The universities have been sister institutions since 1998.
The decision was made in light of recent events at the university, which has campuses in Jerusalem, Abu-Dis and Al-Bireh, including a Nov. 5 Nazi-style demonstration at the main campus.
During the demonstration, protesters marched in black military gear with fake automatic weapons while waving flags and offering the traditional Nazi salute. Banners with images of Palestinian suicide bombers decorated the campus’ main square, according to a statement from Brandeis. Several students also portrayed dead Israeli soldiers
Following the demonstration Lawrence called on Al-Quds President Sari Nusseibeh to issue in Arabic and English a condemnation of the demonstration.
In a statement issued to Al-Quds students Sunday, Nusseibeh said that “Jewish extremists” were using the demonstration to “capitalize on events in ways that misrepresent the university as promoting inhumane, anti-Semitic, fascist, and Nazi ideologies.” Without these ideologies, he said “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 occurred recently, these opportunists 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 settlements and the confiscation of land, and prevents Palestinians from achieving our freedom,” Nusseibeh wrote.
The Brandeis University statement called Nusseibeh’s message “unacceptable and inflammatory.” It added: “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.”
It said that the partnership was formed more than a decade ago with an eye toward “opening a dialogue and building a foundation for peace,” and called the relationship “productive in many respects.”