Interview: Spokesman - Al-Najah University about celebration of Sbarro
Aaron Lerner Date: 24 September 2001
IMRA interviewed Rafi Ahmed, a spokesman for Al-Najah University, n English,
on 24 September 2001:
IMRA: I saw the AP piece [see below] about the exhibition yesterday at your
university yesterday celebrating the suicide bombing at a Jerusalem pizzeria
and I was wondering how it fit in with the university's policy?
Ahmed: First of all, thank you for your call. This is a student activity
run by students. It is an exhibition. The university is an academic
university full of so many academic activities but our colleagues, the
press, focus only on this exhibition. And neglect all the other academic
activities and good news. It is a student activity for the students. Just
IMRA: Are there any restrictions on campus against incitement or can they do
pretty much anything that they want?
Ahmed: They cannot do whatever they want. This is just pictures for the
students who were killed in the uprising.
IMRA: Celebrating the suicide bombing.
Ahmed: No. They are just putting pictures on the wall of the university.
IMRA: Are there things in the past that the university has prevented
students from doing? I recall that there were cases for example of burning
mock-up busses and things like that on campus.
Ahmed: The university is against all these things. It is an academic
university. But you know, many of the students have relations - they have
friends, brothers, sisters and they are just celebrating. Putting pictures
on the wall of the students who were killed. This is just for students -
for a year of the uprising.
IMRA: This piece says that there was a whole room with the re-enacting of
the last testimony of suicide bombers.
Ahmed: No no. I didn't see the exhibition by the way. But as I told you,
the students held so many activities. Not just academic but social as well.
Not just political. For example playing sports. Last week there was a
boxing celebration for those who learned boxing. So many activities. The
students can do all these things but not in a way that is bad for the
university. The university will not allow such bad things. They were just
pictures for the students and people.
Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director
IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
(mail POB 982 Kfar Sava)
Tel 972-9-7604719/Fax 972-3-5480092
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Palestinians Mark Year-Old Uprising
By Mohammed Daraghmeh
Associated Press Writer
Sunday, Sept. 23, 2001; 4:57 p.m. EDT
NABLUS, West Bank -- Commemorating the year-old uprising against Israel,
Palestinian university students opened an exhibition Sunday that included a
grisly re-enactment of a suicide bombing in Jerusalem.
Wearing a military uniform and a black mask, a Palestinian set off a fake
explosion in a replica of the Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem, where a suicide
bomber killed himself and 15 other people last month. It was one of the
deadliest attacks in a year of Mideast violence and drew widespread
The exhibit at Al-Najah University in Nablus was put on by students who
support the militant Islamic movement Hamas, which carried out the Jerusalem
attack. Support for Hamas traditionally runs high at the university, which
is a hotbed for Palestinian militants and has produced a number of suicide
Thousands of people, most of them university students, visited the exhibit,
which is to run for a week in the university cafeteria.
In another part of the exhibit, visitors looked through dark windows to see
mannequins dressed as suicide bombers. Each had Islam's holy book, the
Quran, in one hand, and an automatic rifle in the other - real suicide
bombers often assume this pose in videos they make before staging attacks.
"Our message from this exhibition to our people is that the occupiers will
suffer as long as we are under occupation," said Ala Hamedan, one of the
organizers. "To the Israeli people: If you leave the occupied territories,
you will not suffer and you will not see blood anymore."
Twenty-one Palestinians have blown themselves up in suicide attacks in the
past year, killing more than 50 people and wounding hundreds. Hamas, along
with Islamic Jihad, have carried out the bombings.
Among Palestinians, only a minority supported suicide attacks before the
current uprising began last September. However, recent polls have said a
majority support such attacks.
Overall, more than 800 people, most of them Palestinians, have died in the
fighting. The Palestinians say their uprising, or intefadeh, is a struggle
for statehood and an end to Israel's 34-year occupation in the West Bank and
the Gaza Strip.
The Israelis say the two sides will have to negotiate a final agreement to
the decades-old Middle East conflict. Peace talks broke down at the
beginning of this year amid the fighting, which each side blames on the
In another part of the exhibit, one room pays tribute to three Hamas leaders
killed in targeted attacks by Israeli troops. Three open graves surrounded
by candles hold white coffins for Jamal Mansour, Jamal Salim and Salah
Darwazeh, all senior Hamas figures in Nablus.
The exhibit also includes a large rock in front of a mannequin wearing the
black hat, black jacket and black trousers typically worn by ultra-Orthodox
Jews. A recording from inside the rock calls out: "O believer, there is a
Jewish man behind me. Come and kill him."
Looking at the exhibits, economics student Ghadir Haddad, 19, said she
identified with the displays. "This exhibition shows the reality we live in.
Suicide bombings here, killings there," she said. "I'm very happy because,
as they kill and torture us, they are also killed and tortured."