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IAM Friday Special: Dr. Sari Nusseibeh under attack for agreeing to cooperate with Israeli universities & academics

Editorial Note:
Dr. Sarri Nusseibeh, the Palestinian Minority of One and Israeli Peace Activists
Well before the the Oslo peace process, Sarri Nusseibeh served as one of the more important interlocutors in the Israeli dialogue with the Palestinians.  His role as a moderate Palestinian trying to reach out to the Jewish Israeli peace camp has not changed, even after Oslo peace collapsed and the bloody Intifada took over.  Nusseibah was a fixture in all the subsequent peace projects, such as the Geneva initiatives. 

As President of Al-Quds University, Nusseibeh took a principle and courageous stand against the academic boycott of Israeli universities, much to the displeasure of Palestinian faculty that strongly supports the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI). Over the years, Nusseibeh was the targets of threats and calls for his dismissals, especially as the Palestinian Council for Higher Education decided to cut all ties with Israeli academics to avoid being seen as as supporting the "normalization" of the occupation."
There are certain lessons to be learned from the Nusseibeh phenomenon.  For more than three decades now, EU foundations have spent untold millions of dollars on "conflict resolution."  Pioneered by academics, the conflict resolution theory holds that peace can be advanced when well-meaning moderates, preferably academics, would meet in preliminary "confidence building sessions."   Nusseibeh was a perfect choice for Israeli conflict resolution and peace activists and the "person to go" when a foundation expressed willingness to support yet another project.   In the latest round Berlin University tried to sponsor a collaboration between Al-Quds University and Hebrew University, which, as the article below indicates, was terminated by strong Palestinian protest.
What various conflict resolution and peace activists in Israel seem to ignore is that PACBI is a leader in the newest form of asymmetrical conflict waged against Israel. The 2001 Durban NGO Forum conceived of a soft conflict in which cultural, political, economic and legal warfare is being waged by Palestinian NGOs and the multitude of their supporters.  At the heart of this effort is the academic community, which provides conceptual as well as organizational tools for delegitmizing Israel in the international arena.  
Sarri Nusseibeh has opposed this trend, but it is hard to make peace with a minority of one.

Palestinian academics act against Israel ties

08/29/2012 00:44
Jerusalem Post

Al-Quds University President Dr. Sari Nusseibeh is once again under attack for agreeing to cooperate with Israeli universities and academics.

Palestinian academics on Tuesday published a statement strongly criticizing Nusseibeh for being part of a German-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian academic project aimed at enhancing understanding between different cultures.

The project has been initiated by al-Quds University and the Hebrew University in cooperation with The University of Berlin.

The academics denounced the project as a form of normalization with Israel and pointed out that cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian academics was in violation of a ban issued by the Palestinian Council for Higher Education.

The academics also noted that the joint project was in violation of local and international campaigns promoting academic boycotts of Israel.

In their statement, the Palestinian academics urged Nusseibeh to end all forms of “normalization” with Israeli universities until Israel “ends its occupation.”

The statement added: “While we praise the important role of al-Quds University as a national icon, we call on the university and its president to abide by the position of most Palestinian academics against normalization with the state of apartheid and occupation.”

The statement also noted that Nusseibeh’s cooperation in the past with Hebrew University had thwarted a decision by British academics to initiate a boycott of Israeli universities and professors.

“Normalization projects are today the strongest weapon employed by Israel in its battle – which has been unsuccessful so far – against anti-Israel boycott campaigns,” the statement read.

Late last year, Nusseibeh came under attack from various Palestinians, including top Fatah leaders, for planning to meet with Israeli peace activists at a hotel in east Jerusalem.

The meeting was canceled after Palestinian protesters demonstrated outside the hotel and put pressure on the hotel management to call off the gathering.

Since then, the protesters have been waging a campaign against Nusseibeh, accusing him of promoting “normalization” with Israel. They have also repeatedly called on the Palestinian Authority to dismiss Nusseibeh from his job.

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