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Mohammed Dajani Daoudi // Evolution of a Moderate

Once a radical Fatah leader, the Palestinian professor has come under fire for taking his students to Auschwitz to teach reconciliation. 

By Nadine Epstein

In this day and age, bringing a group of students to visit Auschwitz is so common it is barely noteworthy in the annals of experiential education. People from all over the world visit the Nazi concentration camp in Poland, where nearly a million Jews were killed and more imprisoned, starved and tortured. But what is normal behavior elsewhere is abnormal in swaths of the Arab world, where many political and religious institutions actively promote Holocaust denial or at least Holocaust obfuscation.

Mohammed S. Dajani Daoudi, a professor at Al Quds University in Jerusalem, found this out last March when he brought 27 Palestinian university students to visit the Auschwitz death camps. The backlash over this visit underscores the chasm between normals: Although by no means the first Palestinians to visit Auschwitz, the group—in particular, its leader—became a lightning rod for criticism. The 63-year-old founding director of the university’s American Studies Institute was portrayed as a traitor to the Palestinian cause.    

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