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Palestinians Denounce Students’ Visit to Auschwitz

April 23, 2014

“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Leviticus 19:18)

Palestinian Professor Mohammed S. Dajani Daoudi, the library director and a professor of American studies at Al-Quds University in East Jerusalem, recently took what is thought to be the first group of Palestinian students to the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland.

Mohammed S. Dajani Daoudi in Yasir Arafat’s Fatah

Professor Mohammed S. Dajani Daoudi, who once played a prominent role in Yasir Arafat’s Fatah, now plays a prominent role in advocating tolerance.  (YouTube capture)

“It helped emphasize the human story of the Holocaust, to study the meaning of the historical narrative as related to our conflict, to heighten empathy, awareness, and sensitivity,” said the professor who was once a Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) guerrilla.  (NYT)

Dajani said that he was trying to combat the tendency of Palestinians to see the Holocaust as a Jewish play to gain sympathy and as being highly overrated.

Although Dajani said he expected “some complaints,” as the Holocaust is not part of the curriculum in Palestinian schools, he may have got more than he bargained for.

The university not only disavowed the trip, which was part of a conflict resolution study program organized by Germany’s Friedrich Schiller University of Jena and paid for by the German Research Foundation, the professor has been branded as being a traitor by his fellow Palestinians.  (Washington Post)

As well, there have been threats made against his life.

In spite of the response by the university, the students were upbeat about it.  One Palestinian student said, “You feel the humanity.  You feel the sympathy of so many people killed in this place because of their race or religion.”  (Israel HaYom)

The program, which is titled “Hearts of Flesh—Not Stone,” in reference to a passage in the Book of Ezekiel, involved a parallel empathy-building gesture by a group of Israeli students traveling to Bethlehem to meet with residents from the Dheisheh refugee camp and hear their story.

Jews and Arabs, strike, university students

Inside Israel, it is not uncommon for Jewish and Arab Israelis to find common ground.  In the above photo, Jewish and Arab students at the Tel Aviv University strike together in sympathy with the junior staff.

But not all teachers, of course, are trying to encourage such empathy.

It has been reported that a teacher at Britain’s prestigious North London Collegiate School told a Jewish student that she should be sent “to one of your gas chambers” after the girl jumped ahead in the lunch line.

“A teacher was passing by and she rushed up to my daughter and said, ‘Don’t do that or I’ll have to send you to the back of the queue or to one of your gas chambers,’” the girl’s father said.

The comment came to light when the Jewish community demanded a statement from the school’s headmistress.

The school, whose student body is made up of about 25 percent Jewish students, says that it is investigating the incident. (JPost)

The entrance of the North London Collegiate School, one of Britain's leading independent day schools for girls.

The entrance of the North London Collegiate School, one of Britain’s leading independent day schools for girls.

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