Whenever I’m in Washington D.C., the place is always buzzing with “insider knowledge”. Everybody knows something. There are a lot of “think tanks”, consultants and various politicos, all with specialized knowledge, especially of the Middle East “peace process”…so and so heard something from so and so who spoke to someone who was there. Then you have the finger pointing. President Obama doesn’t get upset with the Palestinian Authority for making a unity government with Hamas, designated a terror group by the Administration. That doesn’t bother him. In fact, the United States rushed to embrace the unity government and hopes that it will “lead to peace”. Lesser lights like me don’t understand how a unity government with a group of cold blooded murderers, who are openly committed to the destruction of Israel will “lead to peace”. But, hey, we don’t have that “special knowledge”.
To my mind, if you want to know what’s going to happen in the peace process, you really should be following what’s going on at Al-Quds University, just outside of Jerusalem in Abu Dis. Never heard of it? Too bad, because it holds the secret to the “peace process”. If you want to know what the odds are for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, forget Obama and Netanyahu, John Kerry and Tzipi Livni. You should be focusing on Professor Mohammed Daoudi. Never heard of him? Too bad, because he knows a lot more about the chances for peace than all the DC mavens put together.
You see, Al-Quds University is theoretically the centre of “moderate” Palestinian thought…you know, educated Palestinians with Ph.D.’s. Theoretically, they and their students are the people that you can make peace with. And, in fact, you could probably make peace with Professor Daoudi. I don’t know. I never discussed the political process with him. What I do know is that he’s an honest academic who decided to break the taboo of the Holocaust in Palestinian society. By doing so, he committed a grave sin as far as the other “moderates” are concerned. Professor Daoudi who, until a few days ago, headed the American Studies Department and served as Chief Librarian at Al-Quds, took a group of Palestinian students to visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps in Poland. His students appreciated the trip but many of his colleagues, other Al-Quds students and members of the public denounced him as a “traitor” and “collaborator”. In Palestinian society, these are code words for “you’re going to die”. I think I’m the only Western journalist whoever filmed a “collaborator interrogation” (Deadly Currents). It’s not a pretty picture. Then the death threats got explicit and, after 40 years at the University, Professor Daoudi resigned.
Al-Quds University incoming President Imad Abukishek was shocked by Professor’s Daoudi’s resignation. After all, he had assigned two security guards to protect the Professor. But Professor Abukishek did criticize Professor Daoudi. He said that there would have been less of a row if Professor Daoudi had compared the Holocaust to the Palestinian experience. You see, Professor Daoudi made a mistake according to the new university President. He should have compared the systematic murder of six million Jews in the Holocaust – over a million of them children – to the death of 30,000 Palestinians in an ongoing conflict perpetrated by the Arab world. Therein lay his mistake. Professor Daoudi should have appropriated the Holocaust for the Palestinian “experience”. Then all would have been well. After all, the Palestinians have appropriated Israel as their land, appropriated the Zionist idea of the “right of return” as the right of Palestinians to take over Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and appropriated the history of the ancient Canaanites and Philistines as their own history. So why stop there, says Professor Abukishek, why study the Holocaust when you could be appropriating it for Palestinian political ends.
Professor Daoudi’s experience at Al-Quds University is the reason we can’t have peace.
How can you discuss peace…what possible chance for making peace can there be…if one people not only denies the other people’s right to exist, but considers the study of the other people’s suffering as illegitimate? How can Palestinians make peace with living Jews, when they haven’t made peace with the dead ones? Is it irrelevant that not only are there no living Jews among the Palestinians – there are no dead ones either? The Palestinians have uprooted every single Jewish cemetery under their “authority”. So if they can’t abide dead Jews as neighbours, why is Obama – along with his think tank experts – so hopeful that peace is just around the corner, and the only obstacle to it are those obstinate Jews who are still alive?
On a final note, lest he be thought of as a pro-suicide bomber radical, the new president of Al-Quds University suggested that the way forward is to ignore history. “Instead of digging into history,” he said, “it’s important for both of us [Palestinians and Israelis] to look at the future generations, how they can live together and build a future together.” How nice. The way forward, according to this Palestinian intellectual is to ignore history. The way forward is to ignore Auschwitz. After all, if you can’t appropriate the experience – deny it. The road to Middle East peace, according to this moderate, is paved with Holocaust denial. Not on your life sir.
So I have a very simple question for all the peace hopeful intellectuals in Washington and Tel Aviv, for all the boycotters, armies of political correctness and J-Streeters: how can Israel make peace with the Palestinians, while Professor Daoudi’s life hangs on a thread because he took Palestinian university students to Auschwitz?