Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Palestinian professor who took students to Auschwitz, disowned by university and branded a traitor

(Jerusalem) Professor Mohammed Dajani took 27 Palestinian college students to visit the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland a few weeks ago as part of a project designed to teach empathy and tolerance to both Palestinians and Israelis. Upon his return, his university (Palestinian Al-Quds University,) disowned the trip, his fellow Palestinians branded him a traitor and friends advised a quick holiday abroad. In fact so explosive was his trip abroad that a comments section about the trip published in the major Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds was taken down by the publishers, because of the abuse in the comments section.One reader said that taking Palestinian students to Auschwitz was not freedom of expression, but treason. Critics of the trip also included newspaper columnists, TV analysts and fellow researchers in the West Bank.
However Dajani says he has "no regrets" about the trip. In a statement posted on Facebook on April 10 Dajani wrote:

My response to all this tirade is that my duty as a teacher is to teach, to have my students explore the unexplored, to open new horizons for my students, to guide my students out of the cave of perceptions and misperceptions to see the facts and the reality on the ground, to break the walls of silence, to demolish the fences of taboos, to swim against the tide in search of truth... I will go to Ramallah, I will go to the university, I will put my photos of the visit on Facebook, and I do not regret for one second what I did. As a matter of fact, I will do it again if given the opportunity. I will not hide, I will not deny. I will not be silent. I will not remain a bystander even if the victims of the suffering I show empathy for are my perpetrators and my occupiers. The aim is not to get any one's approval but to do the right thing.
While Dajani took his students to Auschwitz, a parallel group of Jewish Israeli students from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Tel Aviv University were taken to Bethlehem to hear Palestinians from the Dheisheh refugee camp tell their story and yet the people bitching about the Arab student trip haven't spoken out about this student trip.

Ironically on the Al Quds University website they are currently advertising a special summer course on...Hate Speech. And people wonder why liberal Muslims don't speak out more.