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Al-Quds violence draws concern from faculty

By Phil Gallagher
On February 4, 2014

On Jan. 24, Daniel Terris, director of the International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life, and Profs. Susan Lanser (ENG) and Daniel Kryder (POL) released a joint statement drawing attention to a recent incident of violence involving Israeli soldiers on the campus of Al-Quds University, in East Jerusalem.

According to the statement from Terris, Lanser and Kryder, Israeli soldiers deployed tear gas and rubber bullets on the Al-Quds campus on Jan. 22, harming students and damaging buildings. The reason for the intrusion was unclear. A press release on the Al-Quds website confirms these details, explaining that many students required medical attention as a result of being exposed to tear gas or being struck by rubber bullets.

The Al-Quds press release included photos of soldiers on the campus and cracked windows in university buildings. The incident was reported on the English language website of the Ma'an News Agency.

Brandeis had a formal academic partnership with Al-Quds University that was suspended this past November following a demonstration on the Al-Quds campus that involved students dressed in militia-style clothing, all of whom sported fake automatic weapons.

Terris, Lanser and Kryder visited Al-Quds in November to investigate the origins of the student demonstration. Following their visit, the three issued a report explaining that the student demonstration was not sanctioned by the Al-Quds administration and encouraged Brandeis to resume the academic partnership. University President Frederick Lawrence has expressed an interest in restarting the partnership. The incident on Jan. 22 was unrelated to Brandeis' prior suspension of the partnership.

Terris, Lanser and Kryder expressed "concern for our Al-Quds University colleagues and other members of the AQU community whose personal security and pursuit of learning have been disrupted by these violent actions."

Terris, Lanser and Kryder have all been conducting collaborative projects with Al-Quds faculty to "research the kinds of curricular and pedagogical frameworks that are most effective at fostering civic engagement in developing democratic societies," according to an April 29, 2013 BrandeisNOW article.

Senior Vice President of Communications Ellen de Graffenreid wrote in an email to the Justice that Lawrence was aware of the incident and is involved in ongoing communications with Terris, Lanser and Kryder as well as "individuals at Al-Quds University." However, she declined to comment on Lawrence's reaction to the incident or offer a timeline for reinstating the academic partnership, writing that Lawrence "believes that, at this point, reacting to events by issuing statements in the public media or setting a timeline for a decision about the relationship would not serve a useful purpose."

Leon Botstein, the president of Bard College, an institution which has joint degree programs with Al-Quds University, issued a statement posted on the Al-Quds website declaring the incident "unacceptable." Bard College, unlike Syracuse University and Brandeis, did not suspend its partnership with Al-Quds following the demonstration in November. 

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