Palestinian Professor Quits amidst Protest over Students' Trip to Nazi Concentration Camp


Mohammed Dajani, a Palestinian professor who led a student field trip to Auschwitz, has tendered his resignation amidst violent protests and campus riots.

Dajani, head of the American Studies Department and director of the library at Al Quds University, received sharp criticism and death threats for organising the trip to the Nazi concentration camp in Poland, in March.  The professor was condemned as a "traitor" and "collaborator."

The trip was part of a joint program on Reconciliation and Conflict Resolution with two other universities: Germany's Friedrich Schiller University and Israel's Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. The program aimed to raise awareness about Holocaust and to install tolerance and empathy in students. The team consisting of 27 Palestinian students also spent several days in Krakow and was guided by two Jewish Holocaust survivors.

The former Fatah fighter said that when the university failed to support the Poland trip, Dajani acted "in a personal capacity" while "on leave."

"I put my job on the line to expose the double-talk we live," Dajani said. "We say we are for democracy and we practice autocracy, we say we are for freedom of speech and academic freedom, yet we deny people to practice it," Telegraph reports.

"Some may consider my letter of resignation from Al-Quds University as a kind of 'surrender' to those opposed to academic freedom and freedom of action and of expression. I don't. In submitting my resignation, I feel I took the battle to a higher level," Times of Israelreports.

In May 2011, Dajani co-wrote an op-ed in The New York Times along with Jewish-American historian Robert Satloff titled "Why Palestinians Should Learn About the Holocaust."

It was important for Palestinian students to learn about the genocide so that they would be "armed with knowledge to reject the comparison between the Holocaust and the Nakba because if it were broadly avoided, peace would be even more attainable than it is today," read the article.

While Dajani was embroiled in controversy in Palestinian territories, the academic was praised in Israel and the West for embarking on the trip to the former Nazi death camp in Poland.

The University in recent years has come under fire for allowing violence to creep into the campus. In March 2014, President Sari Nusseibeh stepped down following a Hamas Rally on campus.

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