For most, a visit to Auschwitz is a simple act of commemoration. But when a Palestinian professor went to the former death camp with 30 students in tow, it was seen as near treason.
Al Quds University in the West Bank distanced itself from the renowned professor, Mohammed Dajani, insisting that he went in a personal capacity. Hamas ran a disapproving report on its website. The Palestinian journalist Fadi Aurouri condemned the trip. And Dr Dajani received threatening emails telling him to stay away from Ramallah.
Dr Dajani said that, despite the outcry, he would go again. “In a culture of conflict, the first victim is the truth. We live in a culture of ignorance, a culture of denial and a culture that does not value the truth, and we have to break this.”
He said that students who accompanied him have been “undergoing a lot of criticism and have had people attacking them verbally”.
The visit was part of the “Hearts of Flesh — Not Stone” programme for Israeli, Palestinian and German youngsters organised by Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany. As part of the course, Israelis study Palestinian history through a visit to a refugee camp.