(JTA) — Brandeis University suspended its partnership with Al-Quds University in light of recent events at the Palestinian school, including a Nazi-style demonstration on its main campus in Jerusalem.
Brandeis President Frederick Lawrence made the announcement Monday, saying the suburban Boston university will re-evaluate the relationship in the future. The universities have been sister institutions since 1998.
During the Nov. 5 demonstration at Al-Quds, which also has campuses in the Palestinian towns of Abu Dis and Al-Bireh, 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 main square of the campus, 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 a condemnation of the demonstration in Arabic and English.
In a statement issued Sunday to Al-Quds students, Nusseibeh said “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 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 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.”