Brandeis president says he’ll stay in touch with Al-Quds U. counterpart

(JTA) — Brandeis University President Frederick Lawrence said he would reach out to the president of Al-Quds University in the wake of the U.S. school suspending relations between the two institutions over an Islamic Jihad rally.

In a statement posted Friday on the Brandeis website, Lawrence said the decision to suspend relations with Al-Quds University “was taken deliberatively and with broad input. The partnership was suspended — not terminated — pending the receipt of additional information including input from our faculty members.”

The universities have been sister institutions since 1998.

The suspension was announced on Nov. 18 in light of recent events at the Palestinian school, including a demonstration on its main campus in Jerusalem glorifying terrorism.

At the Nov. 5 demonstration, protesters marched in black military gear with fake automatic weapons while waving flags and offering the traditional stiff-armed 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.

Lawrence said Al-Quds University President Said Nusseibeh’s condemnation of the demonstration, in which he 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,” was “unacceptable and inflammatory.”

In his statement on Friday, Lawrence said he was “dedicated to keeping the lines of communication open between our institutions,” but that he would not respond to issues raised by Nusseibeh in the media. He said he hoped Nusseibeh would be “open to that discussion.”

Nusseibeh said Friday in an email to the Times of Israel that Lawrence had “gone overboard” in his reaction to the controversy.

Daniel Terris, director of the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life at Brandeis, said in a statement posted Nov. 21 on the Brandeis website that “nothing that we have learned during this period has changed our conviction — built over many years of experience — that Sari Nusseibeh and the Al-Quds University leadership are genuinely committed to peace and mutual respect.”

Terris and two other faculty members were visiting the main campus of Al-Quds at the time of the suspension of relations. Al-Quds has two other campuses.

“This is a good time to recall Nusseibeh’s forty-year record of courage, innovation, and willingness to engage in challenging dialogue, the marks of a man whom I know personally to be a stalwart opponent of hatred and intolerance wherever they are found,” Terris wrote.

The Jerusalem Post reported Friday that Syracuse University’s Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism also has “indefinitely” suspended its relationship with Al-Quds.

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