The Dark Relationship Between U.S. Universities and An Anti-American School Controlled By Terrorists

Everything you need to know about Birzeit University, the Palestinian school openly aligned with Hamas that's partnering with some of America's top universities

A Birzeit University student throws a stone as others take cover behind the university’s sign during clashes with Israeli soldiers on November 19, 2012. (ABBAS MOMANI/AFP via Getty Images)

Birzeit University, located just outside of Ramallah in the West Bank, is home to an overwhelmingly Hamas-affiliated student government that holds on-campus terrorist parades. It also has relationships with some of America’s most prestigious universities, despite the fact that its leadership and faculty openly harbor pro-terrorist and anti-American sentiments.

The chairwoman of Birzeit’s Board of Trustees denied Hamas’s brutality and rape on October 7, and the school’s official account called for “glory to the martyrs” days after the attack. Yet its relationships in the United States remain largely intact — it has active relationships with Harvard University, Rutgers University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and others across the country.

Harvard University is set to host a “Palestine Social Medicine Course” next month at Birzeit, where students will learn about “settler colonialism.” Rutgers University affirmed its relationship with Birzeit in May amid student encampment protests and William Paterson University entered into an agreement with the Hamas-run university in 2022 for exchange programs, sharing curricula and joint degree programs. Other schools, such as MIT, have recently co-hosted conferences, invited Birzeit professors for speaking events, or had student groups visit its campus.

Experts say the university has “gone off the deep-end” since Hamas’ October 7, 2023 terrorist attack, with leadership openly defending the actions and broadcasting lies about the conflict.

Birzeit’s Terrorist-Sympathizing Leadership

Hanan Ashrawi, the chairwoman of Birzeit University’s Board of Trustees, has denied Hamas committed sexual assault on Israeli civilians during its October 7 massacre, endorsed the lynching of Israeli soldiers, and defended Hezbollah, according to CAMERA UK.

On October 11, Ashrawi wrote that Israel’s “spin machine” was “manufacturing horrific lies in an orchestrated smear campaign claiming rape, slaughtering babies, beheadings, burnings alive” and that the Western media “immediately swallowed & regurgitated such vile slander.” Ashrawi doubled down on sexual assault denial in March, calling a UN report finding grounds that Hamas committed sexual violence invalid because it included mostly interviews with Israelis.

Jonathan Schanzer, Senior Vice President for Research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said he is not surprised that Birzeit’s radical views are expressed at the highest levels.

“Ashrawi has had a forked tongue for decades,” Schanzer told the Daily Wire, pointing out that she was once part of the Oslo Accords. “While she was once seen as a woman of peace, that ship sailed a long time ago and she has since been a mouthpiece for radicalism for the better part of a decade.”

In a January 2, 2024 post on X, Ashrawi voiced her frustration with the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) killing Saleh al-Arourui, the founding commander of Hamas’s military wing, the al-Qassam brigades, who she labeled a “Palestinian leader.”

Hanan Ashrawi, the chairwoman of Birzeit University’s Board of Trustees, has denied Hamas committed sexual assault on Israeli civilians during its October 7 massacre.

“The long-distance assassination by drone of Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri is a typical Israeli pattern of murdering Palestinian leaders of all factions. Not only does it not bring security or capitulation, it provokes & produces a serious escalation with long-term ramifications,” Ashrawi wrote.

Ashrawi also sat on the Honorary Editorial Board of the Palestinian Chronicle, the U.S.-based non-profit that employed Abdallah Aljamal, who was killed by Israeli forces in Gaza in June as three hostages held prisoner in his home were rescued.

Previously a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, she was also a founding member of Miftah, an organization with a history of anti-Ssemitism, including publishing an article claiming Jews use Christian blood to make matzah for Passover before apologizing, according to the Times of Israel. Ashrawi was denied a visa to the United States in 2019, according to her Twitter though it is unclear if she was given one in the following years for trips. 

“I think it is quite revealing that she has been supportive of Hamas and other extremist groups after being part of the peace process for so many years,” Schanzer said. “I think she has gone well past the tipping point and there is no return for her. I suspect she knows that.”

Celebrating Anti-Semitic Protests On American Campuses

Birzeit itself has a troubling social media history since October 7, including calling for “glory for the martyrs” just three days later, praising terrorists, and declaring support for U.S. student encampments that caused turmoil on campuses, led to the harassment of Jews, and resulted in the cancellation of some commencement ceremonies.

In a post on X, Birzeit mourned “with great pride the martyr,” Aysar Safi, a student killed in a combat mission against the IDF, according to the U.S.-designated terrorist organization, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which claimed him as a member. In another post, Birzeit shared an image from Safi’s on-campus funeral with attendees holding flags of the student wing of the PFLP and Hamas’s al-Qassam brigade.

“Birzeit has gone off the deep-end since October 7 like other universities,” Schanzer said. “Like just about every faction within the Palestinian arena, Birzeit has expressed appreciation for the intimidating anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist encampments.”


In multiple posts, Birzeit called the encampment activists “a live example of the importance of academic liberty and justice” and said their “voices are heard and appreciated from Birzeit University.” 

“From Birzeit University, we appreciate the stands where the students showed support to Palestine in MIT, Harvard, Yale, Stanford, NYU, PennU, and more,” Birzeit’s website states. “We reiterate our unwavering support for the Student for Justice in Palestine (SJP).”

In a joint-letter with other Palestinian universities, Birzeit said the protesters in the encampments “are emancipating the university from structural racism and complicity with power and colonialism.”

Birzeit, which describes itself as a “thorn in the side of the occupation,” and says it is making an impact through “resistance” has openly honored terrorists. The school has a Kamal Nasser Hall, named after the leader of Black September, the terror organization responsible for kidnapping and killing 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Birzeit was under controversy in 2014 its policy of banning Israeli Jews from campus was exposed when it removed a left-wing reporter for Haaretz from a conference.

Birzeit’s Anti-American Professors

Birzeit shared a letter from its faculty and employee union which praised the “global intifada,” called for an Israel boycott, and refrained from calling the United States by name, instead opting to use “Turtle Island,” a term used by so-called “anti-colonialists” to suggest that the United States exists on stolen land. 

“From their inception in the early part of the twentieth century, Zionist academic institutions have been the catalyst for the military plans to ethnically cleanse the entirety of Palestine,” the letter reads. “The global intifada will no doubt continue to grow and campuses across the world, including in the Arab world, will gather and scream in the face of fascism.”

Birzeit University’s teacher and employee union praised the “global intifada” and refrained from calling the United States by name, instead opting to use “Turtle Island,” a term used by so-called “anti-colonialists” to suggest that the United States exists on stolen land.

Birzeit’s faculty includes notable terrorist sympathizers, including assistant professor Basil Farraj who wrote a eulogy for Walid Daqqa, the leader of a group that kidnapped and killed an IDF soldier.  

Philosophy professor Abdaljawad Omar appeared at a PFLP-linked conference attended by Rep. Rashida Tlaib, where he praised the October 7 attacks for opening “so many doors of political possibility” and said the “promise of liberation it holds would not have manifested in our conference without the capacity to resist.”

Omar also denied accusations of rape and criticized the IDF for refusing to allow Israel to be taken over by the “Palestinian military” in an op-ed shortly after the attack.

“Israel chose not to engage in negotiations with any groups within its borders, leading to substantial collateral damage in numerous hostage situations,” Omar wrote. “The Palestinian military strategy aimed to delay Israel’s retaking of the area around the strip. In contrast, Israel was intent on swiftly reclaiming the territory, seemingly without regard for the safety of its own citizens.”

Hamas-affiliated students celebrate, or commit, terrorism

A majority of Birzeit’s students are radicalized, as evident from its student election last year where a Hamas-affiliated student bloc won 25 of the 51 seats in a race with a 77% voter turnout, according to the Jerusalem Post. The PFLP-affiliated group won six seats. 

PFLP parade at Birzeit University where participants had mock rockets and mock explosive belts, according to MEMERI. (T.me/kataebabuali, Facebook.com/aysha.taweel.92, December 13, 2021)

At the Islamic Bloc victory celebration, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh called in and claimed the win shows Hamas is “unbreakable” in the West Bank, Middle East Monitor reported

In a December 2022 annual on-campus parade, students with military uniforms, mock suicide belts and rockets celebrated the 55-year anniversary of the PFLP while chanting “Oh, PFLP member, mobilize, blow up the settler’s head,” reported Memri. At the 2021 rally, photos of participants making Nazi salutes were shared by PFLP’s military wing on Telegram. A day later, the Islamic Bloc held their own rally where a speaker said “salutations to the body parts that were scattered on the streets of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv,” a video by Memri shows.

The Islamic Bloc is so proud of Birzeit’s list of terrorist alumni that it featured many of them in a 2022 article on its website for their “jihad work.”Notable mentions include Ayman Halawa, which the group credits for killing 23 Israelis at a Tel Aviv night club, and Yahya Ayyash, nicknamed “the Engineer,” for revamping the production of suicide bombs and helping kill nearly 100 Israeli civilians.

Hamas student parade at Birzeit University where a child with a Hamas headband carried a toy rifle.(Facebook.com/aysha.taweel.92, December 14, 2021)

The group honored Ayyash in a reception for new students, titled “Ayyash’s Army,” on November 24, 2022, hosted the day after terrorists detonated bombs at a bus stop, killing two Israelis.

Current students have also been arrested for terrorism, including student government president Abdulmajid Hassan, and seven other students who were arrested by the IDF and accused of planning a terror attack to which some of the suspects confessed, according to the Times of Israel.

The director of a Harvard University public health program heading to Birzeit this summer with students condemned the raid, claiming it violated “the right of Palestinians to education, freedom of speech, and freedom of association,” the Daily Wire previously reported.

A Harvard representative downplayed the Birzeit elections and their impact on their summer program at the time, claiming they are “not germane to and have not affected the FXB Center’s work with the scholars and students at Birzeit’s Institute of Community and Public Health.”

According to Schanzer campus elections are a barometer of the political sentiments held by Palestinians in the West Bank considering elections have not been held in many years and its president, Mahmoud Abbas is entering the 19th year of his 4-year term.

“U.S. universities should be concerned about partnering with Birzeit while Hamas is in control of its student body and there are open displays of radicalism on campus,” Schanzer said. “This should be a sign that perhaps it’s not the best time to be sending students to Birzeit.”

In April, a mob of Birzeit students attacked the German ambassador to Israel on campus with stones, forcing him to flee, i24 News reported. In June, students called on Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah to burn Kiryat Shmona, an Israeli town near the Lebanon border that has been evacuated and faces near-daily rocket attacks.

Birzeit students were caught helping launder money for terrorist attacks from Gaza to Hamas members in Turkey in 2022, The Jerusalem Post reported. More than 140 students and 4 staff members were in prison in April, Birzeit posted to X.

In 2022, the school’s sports education club hosted an athletic competition named after one of its many prominent terrorist alumni, Marwan Barghouti, who is considered a leader of the First and Second Intifada and was convicted of killing five people. 

Birzeit University Ties With U.S. Universities And Students

While Schanzer said all U.S. universities should reconsider partnering with Birzeit, he stressed that Harvard should pay extra caution due to the Congressional Education and the Workforce Committee revealing its former Antisemitism Advisory Council noting pro-terrorist influence on campus.

“We know from the internal deliberations that they are worried about the influence of Hamas at Harvard,” he said. “But the Harvard administration has already shown it’s more eager to appease the woke masses than they are concerned about antisemitism, Hamas influence or the potential danger of exposing students to radicals abroad.”

Students of Birzeit University, supporting Hamas, Fatah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), gather for a debate held prior to the Student Council Elections, in Ramallah, West Bank on May 23, 2023. (Photo by Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Rutgers University caved to anti-Israel student protesters in May, saying it would “revisit and follow-up” on its relationship with Birzeit University, which was created in 2022. Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-PA) asked Rutgers University president Jonathan Holloway if Birzeit is “really an institution Rutgers should be partnering with” before a Congressional hearing in May.

“The information you just shared with me is new to me sir, and I will commit to reading it,” Holloway said after Smucker informed him of Birzeit’s terrorist sympathies.

In 2001, UC Davis joined a consortium of Arab region universities — that includes Birzeit — and consists of “collaborative research and training projects.”

Other schools draw upon Birzeit professors to educate their own students, represented by a 2021 conference co-organized with the UC Santa Barbara and Birzeit University. MIT co-hosted an April 2023 conference at Birzeit on “Education Innovation in Palestine Academia.” Georgetown enlisted Birzeit Associate Professor of History Rana Barakat for a “Gaza in Context Teach-In Series” in June.

Student groups have taken trips to Birzeit, including 43 UC Berkeley students in 2019 who met with BDS Movement co-founder Omar Barghouti. In a Birzeit blog post, the university says it met with students from the University of Michigan, University of Virginia, New York University, and Harvard University in March 2023.

As Birzeit creates ties with new schools, it also appears to boast outdated relationships with U.S. schools from nearly 30 years ago. Its website features a map of eight “international partners” including Illinois State University, Kent State University, California State University San Bernardino, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Harvard, University of California, William Paterson University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Birzeit University

Palestinian students from Birzeit University hurl rocks amid clashes with Israeli security forces during a demonstration near the Israeli settlement of Beit El, close to Ramallah city in the occupied West Bank, on August 17, 2021, protesting the killing of four Palestinians a day earlier in Jenin in clashes with Israeli security forces. (Photo by ABBAS MOMANI / AFP) (Photo by ABBAS MOMANI/AFP via Getty Images)

A spokesman for Cal State San Bernardino told The Daily Wire they have not had a relationship with Birzeit since 1995. Kent State told The Daily Wire it has not had a relationship with Birzeit for “several years,” Illinois State said their relationship ended in 2015, and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville said their relationship is not active. The University of California Office of the President said they have no relationship with Birzeit, but did not comment on if its universities do.

Schanzer believes that apart from the radicalism on Birzeit’s campus, visiting the West Bank is not safe for American students.

“Israelis have arrested more than 4,000 terrorists in the West Bank since October 7 and have disrupted many plots and confiscated thousands of weapons smuggled through Jordan,” he said. “All of this is part of a plan enacted by Hamas and its key patrons in Tehran to ignite a third front in this war.”

“We’re five minutes away from a massive confrontation in the West Bank and we have Harvard sending students,” he added. “This is the wrong time.”

Harvard University, MIT, William Paterson University, Georgetown University, UC Santa Barbara, Rutgers University, and Birzeit University did not respond to a request for comment.

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