A professor who took a group of Palestinian students to Auschwitz has been disowned by his university and branded a ‘traitor’ by those in his community. Professor Mohammed S. Dajani took 27 Palestinian students from Al-Quds University to visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland in March.
The trip was part of a joint venture focusing on conflict resolution between the university and two others. However, when the professor and the group returned, the university distanced itself from the trip – saying professor Dajani and the students ‘acted in their personal capacity and were not representatives of the university.’
According to the Washington Post, Professor Dajani was also reportedly called a ‘traitor’ by some members of his community, while some of his friends advised him to go on holiday until the controversy died down. The professor, who believes the group may have first Palestinians students to visit Auschwitz, has since said he doesn’t regret the trip – and he would return if given the opportunity.
Writing on Facebook, he said: “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. 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 trip to the concentration camp, pictured, was part of a joint venture between three universities. It was designed to teach students about empathy and conflict resolution
The trip to the concentration camp was part of a joint venture between three universities. It was designed to teach students about empathy and conflict resolution ‘The aim is not to get any one’s approval but to do the right thing.’
A student who went on the trip told haaretz.com: ‘Most people said we shouldn’t go. It is a strange thing for a Palestinian to go to a Nazi death camp. But I would recommend the trip.’
The controversy came as the Obama administration attempted to move towards a peace deal with the Middle East.
The trip was part of a research project called ‘Heart of Flesh — Not Stone’. It was reportedly paid for by the German Research Foundation and run by the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany, and the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
According to the project’s Facebook page: ‘The project analyses individuals and groups experiencing the “suffering of the other” as a means for understanding how and why groups may become more or less open to reconciliation.’
The professor retains the trip was in his student’s best interests – and says he would return if given the chance. His critics say he was attempting to brainwash the pupils, reports suggest. A Palestinian newspaper al-Quds wrote a piece about the trip – which was reportedly pulled down following a heated discussion in the comments section of the piece. According to reports, one reader said the trip was not freedom of expression – but treason.
TV analysts and newspaper columnists also spoke against the trip, while others claimed the professor was attempting to brainwash his students.
Auschwitz was a network of concentration and extermination camps built during World War II. It was operated by the Third Reich.The network consisted of original camp Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II–Birkenau, Auschwitz III–Monowitz and a further 45 satellite camps.
I despair when I read articles like this and it explains clearly why little or no progress has been made in the middle east peace process. It would seem those followers of Islam in the Palestinian territories are seemingly unable (or unwilling) to acknowledge that 6 million Jews were exterminated during the second world war.
This may of course have something to do with the Grand Mufti being an arch supporter of Hitlers genocidal policy towards the Jews. And the fact that Hezbollah has it enshrined in its policy that “Israel has no right to exist.”
Having visited Auschwitz – Birkenau myself I could only stand and stare at the enormity of the industrial style process of mass killing and ponder the question “why?”………………..and yet there are those who still deny that it happened!