Mohammed Dajani knew he was on sensitive ground when he took a group of students to visit the site of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland in March. But it took the furore that followed to make the Palestinian academic realise that he had entered a political and psychological minefield.
Dajani resigned from his post at Jerusalem’s Al-Quds University this week after failing to win the unequivocal support of his employers in a row which highlighted the darkest taboos of the conflict with Israel and each side’s enduring sense of victimhood.
The visit to the concentration camp was part of a project to study the Holocaust and teach tolerance and empathy. “It is about understanding the other,” Dajani told the Guardian during a conference in the Qatari capital, Doha. “You need to understand the other because reconciliation is the only option we have. And the sooner we do it the better. Empathising with your enemy does not mean you sanction what your enemy is doing to you.”