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A culture of anti-Semitic poison at Al-Quds University

Al-Quds University president Sari Nusseibeh, left, was asked by Brandeis president Frederick Lawrence, right, to condemn an Islamic Jihad rally on the Al-Quds campus. When Nusseibeh refused, Brandeis severed their academic partnership.Getty Images; Wendy Maeda/Globe staff

They weren’t wearing swastika armbands or chanting “sieg heil!” during the Islamic Jihad rally this month on the campus of Al-Quds University. They didn’t need to. Everything about the event reeked of fascism and anti-Semitic bloodlust. Demonstrators at the Palestinian school paraded in paramilitary gear, with massed black flags, mock assault weapons, and arms extended in Nazi-style salutes. There were banners lionizing suicide bombers, and hand-drawn Israeli flags on which students trod. Islamic Jihad — long identified as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union — posted photos of the rally on its website. In one, students representing dead Israelis sprawl on the ground as black-clad jihadists brandishing weapons stride past.

Such celebrations of terrorism and incitement to violence are pervasive in Palestinian society. Children raised under the Palestinian Authority are indoctrinated from an early age to regard Israelis and Jews as enemies to be destroyed and infidels to be loathed. Nothing about the nearly three-hour rally at Al-Quds would have surprised the estimated 1,000 students who saw it. Most of them have been fed a steady diet of such poison all their lives, and not just in schools and mosques. From TV shows and popular music to the naming of sports clubs and public squares, the next generation of Palestinians has grown up amid the most violent culture of Jew-hatred since the Third Reich.


A fog of political correctness usually keeps events like the Al-Quds rally from getting much attention in the Western media. But this one, first reported by veteran British journalist Tom Gross, made news last week when it led Brandeis University into suspending a longstanding academic partnership with the Palestinian school. It wasn’t the grotesque rally itself that provoked Brandeis to pull the plug, though that should have been sufficient: One of Islamic Jihad’s many innocent victims was a 20-year-old Brandeis undergraduate, Alisa Flatow, who was one of eight people murdered in 1995 when an Islamic Jihad bomber blew up the bus in which they were riding.

What finally forced the issue was the refusal of Sari Nusseibeh, the president of Al-Quds and a well-known Palestinian intellectual, to condemn the hate-drenched rally even after being asked to do so by Brandeis president Frederick Lawrence. Nusseibeh replied instead with an outrageous letter that denounced “vilification campaigns by Jewish extremists,” and suggested their only purpose in raising the issue was to “prevent Palestinians from achieving our freedom.”


Nusseibeh is often described as a Palestinian “moderate.” But in a culture as poisoned with vitriolic anti-Semitism as the Palestinian Authority, moderation doesn’t go very far. It doesn’t even go as far as repudiating the Nazi-like salutes and tableaux of dead Israelis during a public rally on an East Jerusalem college campus. Not even to retain the goodwill of an institution as dovish and liberal as Brandeis, a Jewish-sponsored university that was proud of its relationship with Al-Quds.

The genocidal values of Islamic Jihad are no anomaly. They are the values of Hamas and the PLO. They are the values that led the Arab League to spurn the UN’s proposed two-state solution in 1947, and to announce that it would crush the newborn Jewish state in “a war of extermination and a momentous massacre.” They are the values that induced Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and the leader of the Palestinians in the 1930s, to form an alliance with Adolf Hitler, eagerly collaborating with the fuhrer in the hope of importing the Final Solution to the Jews of the Middle East.

“Our fundamental condition for cooperating with Germany,” Husseini wrote in his journal, “was a free hand to eradicate every last Jew from Palestine and the Arab world.” He asked Hitler “for an explicit undertaking to allow us to solve the Jewish problem . . . according to the scientific methods innovated by Germany in the handling of its Jews.”


There may have been no actual swastikas at the Islamic Jihad rally, but the lethal values represented by the swastika have been a part of the Palestinian national movement for the better part of a century. They still are. So long as even Palestinian “moderates” cannot bring themselves to bravely and publicly defy those values, Palestinian sovereignty will remain a reckless gamble — and peace a dangerous delusion.

Jeff Jacoby can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @jeff_jacoby.