A report released Monday by Brandeis University’s International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life calls for a resumption of the university’s partnership with Al-Quds University, a Palestinian institution in the West Bank. The report, which was commissioned by Brandeis’s administration in the wake of a Nov. 5 rally at Al-Quds in which demonstrators in black masks and military dress carried fake automatic weapons and employed fascist-style salutes, finds that officials at Al-Quds “responded promptly and appropriately to the November 5 rally by communicating to both internal and external constituencies that the rally violated university policies and principles.”
In suspending its partnership with Al-Quds in November, Brandeis cited both the rally and the university's response to it, specifically a Nov. 17 letter from Al-Quds President Sari Nusseibeh that Brandeis characterized as "unacceptable and inflammatory." The letter emphasized values of equality and mutual respect, but it also criticized “Jewish extremists” who "spare no effort to exploit some rare but nonetheless damaging events or scenes which occur on the campus of Al Quds University…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.”
The report from faculty affiliated with Brandeis's center for ethics, justice and public life delves into the context for that letter and ultimately concludes that it "expressed neither intolerance nor hatred" (although the authors write that they understand the reasons it caused offense). They write that “Al- Quds University is playing a courageous frontline role in working for peace by engaging those minority factions in its midst that hold extreme attitudes” and urge Brandeis to resume and “redouble its commitment” to the partnership. A separate statement calls for Nusseibeh to be reinstated as a member of the center's international advisory board.
Ellen de Graffenreid, Brandeis’s senior vice president for communications, said that President Frederick Lawrence is out of the country, but added that he asked for the report and she is certain he will read it carefully. Brandeis released a statement Nov. 22 requesting a dialogue with Al-Quds University. That dialogue is ongoing, de Graffenreid said, but she declined to be more specific. “With sensitive issues like this, having this discussion through the media is not productive,” she said.