Eye on the Middle East Mar/Apr 2016

The Israel Defense Forces recently detained 90 Birzeit University (BZU) students, teachers, and employees for association with terrorism.

BZU, near Ramallah, probably the most prestigious and liberal of the universities within the Palestinian Authority-controlled area of Judea-Samaria, immediately denounced the action, claiming Israel violated the Palestinian education sector.

What the university did not say is that it encourages violence against Israel and many of its 11,000 students identify with Hamas. In fact, 26 of the 32 people elected to student government in 2015 openly support Hamas, which wants to obliterate Israel.

The week before Christmas 2015, students used BZU’s Facebook page to display a photo of a “Christmas tree” decorated with pictures of dead terrorists and a sign that read, “The way to freedom is a bullet and a Martyr, a pen and a prisoner, an olive tree and a wounded, a crescent and a cross; Merry Christmas, [Fatah] Shabiba student movement, Birzeit University.”

In June 2014, when the majority of student-council representatives were Palestinian Authority (PA) sympathizers, it handed out sweets to celebrate Hamas’s kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers whose bodies were found two weeks later.

The following month, the BZU council supported Hamas by posing in front of fake Hamas rockets. Hamas launched thousands of rockets into Israel that year.

In September 2014, BZU forced Haaretz correspondent Amira Hass, a Jewish-Israeli journalist who lives full-time among the Palestinians, to leave a conference on the campus because it has a rule “stipulating that [Jewish] Israelis are not allowed on university grounds.”

Never mind that in 2013, Hass, a self-described leftist and anti-Zionist, wrote in her column that Palestinians should throw stones at Israelis, saying it was their “birthright.” Reacting to her removal, Hass wrote, “It is well known that the university doesn’t employ Israeli Jews as academic staff, even from anti-Zionist left-wing circles. The claim that the law applies to me because I am representing an Israeli institution is a shaky one: Palestinian citizens of Israel who teach at Israeli universities are not subject to the same policy.”

Now many Palestinian millennials (born roughly between 1980 and 2000) reject PA President Mahmoud Abbas and identify with Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist group supported by Iran. The newly elected student government’s first action was to elevate Bilal Barghouti to “Honorary Chairman of the BZU student council.” Barghouti is serving 16 life terms in prison in Israel for his role in suicide attacks against the Jewish nation.

BZU President Khalil Hindi applauded the students’ commitment and cooperation. He said their conduct during the election reflected their sense of responsibility. These “responsible” students now formally identify with an organization that is more violent than the PA.

In December they celebrated the 28th anniversary of Hamas’s establishment by holding automatic weapons and standing over a mock Israeli soldier who was kneeling before a row of armed, masked men—a disturbing similarity to ISIS.

BZU’s website states it desires to give students “the opportunity to realize their academic aspirations and encourages them to be productive citizens and active members of their community.” If the BZU students’ recent actions are those of “productive and active members of the community,” no wonder most Israelis hold little hope for a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli crisis.

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