Professor Mohammed Dajani took 27 Palestinian college students to visit the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland a few weeks ago as part of a project designed to teach empathy and tolerance to both Palestinians and Israelis. Upon his return, his university disowned the trip, his fellow Palestinians branded him a traitor and friends advised a quick holiday abroad.
Professor Dajani said he expected criticism. “I believe a trip like this, for an organised group of Palestinian youths going to visit Auschwitz, is not only rare, but a first,” he said. “I thought there would be some complaints, then it would be forgotten.”
But the trip was explosive news to some, perhaps more so because it took place as US-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians were in danger of collapse, and emotion surrounding the decades-old conflict is high.
Controversy was also heightened by rumours – untrue – that the trip was paid for by Jewish organisations. It was paid for by the German government.
The prime minister of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Tuesday praised a shooting that killed an Israeli and wounded his wife and son as they drove through the West Bank the previous evening en route to a Seder, the traditional Passover meal that starts the weeklong Jewish holiday.
Speaking in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh said the attack outside the city of Hebron “brought back life to the path of resistance” against Israel and warned of more attacks in the territory. No one claimed responsibility for the attack, the latest incident to threaten peace talks with the Palestinians….
“We tell the enemy and anyone who thinks he is able to tame the West Bank … the West Bank will be the future point of our struggle with the enemy,” Haniyeh said.
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