As Hamas Takes Control of West Bank’s Birzeit University, Will European Partner Institutions Respond?
A student group affiliated with the Hamas terrorist organization was re-elected to power this week at the West Bank’s Birzeit University. In what has been described as a landslide vote over Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party — which controls the Palestinian Authority (PA) — Hamas’ Islamic Allegiance bloc took 28 seats out of 51 in the student government.
As some commentators have noted, the Birzeit elections are considered to reflect Palestinian public opinion. Yet under the Oslo Accords, which are part of the body of international law governing relations between Israel and the Palestinians, Ramallah is obligated to combat the influence of terrorist organizations, as well as their incitement to violence.
Meanwhile, Birzeit University boasts of its “partnerships” with over 50 educational institutions in Europe and the United Kingdom — with the Palestinian college organizing academic exchanges through the European Union’s Erasmus+ program (see here and here).
While genuine academic cooperation should be promoted as a means to build understanding and peaceful cooperation between nations, there is an issue regarding Birzeit — namely, whether a university with discriminatory policies, whose campus halls are named after terrorists like Kamal Nasser, is violating the EU’s stated commitment to human dignity and respect for human rights.
After the school’s election results became clear on Wednesday night, Hamas — deemed a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, Canada, Australia, and more — celebrated in the streets of the West Bank, with students chanting, “We are your men, [Hamas leader Yahya] Sinwar. … Put the sword in front of the sword, and we are the men of [terror commander] Muhammad Deif.”
In its response, the Gaza-based terror group lauded the victory of the Islamist students, as “a prelude to the battle of the promise of the hereafter and the liberation of Palestine — all of Palestine [sic].”
Before the vote, in which 10,000 students participated, there was a debate. At the May 17th event, representatives of Hamas and Fatah argued over which faction has killed more Israelis, with the Fatah speaker proudly proclaiming that one of the Elad axe murderers belonged to his party.
In a debate at Bir Zeit University, before a fawning crowd, activists from Hamas and Fatah argue over which group hates Israel and are working to kill more Israelis. Nothing to see here… Move along… https://t.co/XaJGSrcfDL
— Ahron Shapiro (@AhronRShapiro) May 18, 2022
Although PA security forces reportedly arrested some Hamas-sympathizing students on Wednesday, the Western-backed Palestinian leadership has long failed to systematically and effectively act against terror glorification at Birzeit.
For instance, the university has honored Black September terrorist Kamal Nasser with a hall on campus, and named a basketball championship after Marwan Barghouti, the Palestinian viewed by many as the mastermind behind the Second Intifada. An Israeli court found Barghouti guilty of orchestrating terror attacks that killed five people. He has also been accused of organizing dozens of other shootings and suicide bombings.
During a 2016 Fatah rally at Birzeit, students called for the murder of Jews.
Last year, students associated with Hamas and other terror groups, organized military parades, complete with mock rockets and explosive belts.
Birzeit University counts among its international partners institutions like the University of Glasgow (UK), Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne University (France), University of Potsdam (Germany), Ghent University (Belgium), and Saxion University of Applied Sciences (The Netherlands).
Will they all stand silent, or openly approve the blatant Palestinian support for the murder of Jews?