December 11, 2013
Mr. Leon Botstein
President, Bard College
Campus Road, PO Box 5000
Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504-5000
Dear President Botstein:
We write to urge Bard University to reverse its decision to continue its partnership with Al-Quds University, despite shocking evidence that Al-Quds is a place that not only tolerates, but also glorifies and encourages violence against Jews and Israel.
As you know, at a November 5th demonstration on the Al-Quds campus, demonstrators wore military garb, carried authentic-looking weapons, and used the traditional Nazi salute, surrounded by banners with images of “martyred” suicide bombers. Students also portrayed dead Israeli soldiers.
After news broke about this demonstration, Brandeis University – which had a partnership with Al-Quds – called for Al-Quds President Sari Nusseibeh to unequivocally condemn it, both in Arabic and English. Instead of doing so, Sari Nusseibeh posted a statement blaming “Jewish extremists” for “vilification campaigns against Al-Quds.” And he offensively and outrageously blamed what he characterized as “the enduring Palestinian catastrophe” on the Holocaust against the Jewish people.
Rightly so, Brandeis University called Nusseibeh’s statement “unacceptable and inflammatory” and immediately suspended its partnership with Al-Quds. Syracuse University also cut ties with Al-Quds, stating that Syracuse “does not condone hatred or intolerance in any way.” The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Services, which offers student exchanges with Al-Quds, is reportedly evaluating whether such exchanges should occur, in light of the Nazi-style rally. York University in Toronto is also “investigating” the matter, according to a news report.
We are deeply troubled that Bard University, which has an active partnership with Al-Quds, has not only failed to condemn the demonstration or Al-Quds’ response to it, but has also decided to maintain ties with Al-Quds. The media reported that you actually expressed satisfaction with how the Al-Quds administration responded to the Nazi-style demonstration.
With all due respect, it is incomprehensible how you could conclude that Nusseibeh’s statement was acceptable, when he turned around and blamed “Jewish extremists” rather than those who organized and participated in the Nazi-style demonstration on his campus, with banners extolling terrorist murderers of Jews. Nusseibeh’s statement was not surprising, given his other statements which make no secret of his Jew-hatred. Although he is often falsely and absurdly painted as a “moderate,” Nusseibeh actually stated in an interview on Al-Jazeera TV that “no Jew in the world, now or in the future,” will ever be permitted to live in a Palestinian state. He has also praised the mothers of suicide bombers.
Please also consider that the recent Nazi-style demonstration at Al-Quds University was not an isolated event on that campus where violence against Jews and Israel was promoted and exalted. Palestinian Media Watch (www.palwatch.org) reported that in a recent Palestinian football tournament at Al-Quds University, the participating football teams were named after Jew-killing Arab terrorists – Yahya Ayyash, Dalai Mughrabi, and Ghassan Kanafani. (See http://www.palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=10101.)
Yahya Ayyash, known as “the Engineer,” bears the distinction of introducing suicide bombing to the Palestinian Arab-Israeli conflict. He became a chief bomb-maker for Hamas and was behind terrorist attacks killing dozens of Israelis and injuring hundreds. He is responsible for the 1995 murder of Brandeis University student Alisa Flatow. Dalal Mughrabi led the most lethal terrorist attack in Israel’s history. In 1978, she and other terrorists hijacked a bus and killed 37 civilians, including 12 children. When Mughrabi and her accomplices landed on the beach in rubber rafts before overtaking the bus, they came upon Gail Rubin, an American photographer taking pictures of birds on the beach, and shot her dead. Ghassan Kanfani was a writer and a leader of the terror group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Since its founding in 1967, the PFLP carried out numerous terror attacks, including against American sites, and murdered innocent Israelis and Americans.
Knowing all this about Al-Quds University, why in the world would Bard, a human rights loving university, wish to remain associated with this school that glorifies Jew-killing terrorists and inflames hatred of and violence against Jews and Israel?
We understand that Bard is committed to diversity and the freedom to debate difficult issues. But this situation is not about tolerating and encouraging the expression of dissenting views. It is not about supporting the right to free speech and assembly on a university campus. This is about a university in eastern Jerusalem that is tolerating and fomenting the hatred and murder of Jews, and fueling violence against Israel, all of which should be abhorrent to Bard University and everything it stands for.
There is little doubt that if the Ku Klux Klan or other hate group were holding a demonstration at a Bard-affiliated school and calling for violence against African Americans, Hispanics or gays, Bard University would immediately disassociate itself from that school – and rightly so. A school that promotes and tolerates anti-Semitism, and calls for the murder of Jews and the destruction of Israel should be treated no differently. Such a school does not deserve an association with any university, let alone one of Bard’s stature.
Please do the right thing and cut ties with Al-Quds. There are surely many other universities around the world that share Bard’s commitment to tolerance and diversity, and that would be truly deserving of an educational partnership with Bard.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Very truly yours,
Morton A. Klein
Susan B. Tuchman, Esq.
Director, Center for Law and Justice