Car of Auschwitz-trip Palestinian professor torched
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Car of Auschwitz-trip Palestinian professor torched

Police investigating arson attack outside East Jerusalem home of moderate Islam advocate Mohammed Dajani

Renee Ghert-Zand is a reporter and feature writer for The Times of Israel.

Mohammed Dajani's car, destroyed in an apparent arson attack, January 16, 2015. (Courtesy of Mohammed Dajani)
Mohammed Dajani's car, destroyed in an apparent arson attack, January 16, 2015. (Courtesy of Mohammed Dajani)

The car of Mohammed Dajani, the Palestinian professor who resigned under pressure from Al-Quds University last May after taking 30 Palestinian students to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland, was torched last Friday night in front of his home in the Beit Hanina neighborhood of East Jerusalem.

A police investigation is still underway and no arrests have been made.

Dajani told The Times of Israel that at 11:30 p.m. on Friday, after he returned that day from a trip abroad, he heard neighbors shouting that his car was on fire.

Dajani tried to put the flames out with a fire extinguisher and called the fire department and the police. It took firefighters two hours to put out the blaze, which destroyed the vehicle.

“The fire was so intense because a week earlier someone vandalized the car and put a very strong glue on the hood. This is a glue that supposedly seeps through the hood and into the engine,” said Dajani.

Portrait of Mohammed Dajani, a former Fatah founder and prominent Palestinian academic. (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash90)
Mohammed Dajani, a former Fatah founder and prominent Palestinian academic. (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

Dajani is fairly certain that the arson attack was planned, given the application of the glue ahead of time, as well as the fact that it took place the day he had returned from a trip.

“It seems they knew my schedule,” he said.

Dajani, who has traveled a great deal in recent months on behalf of his Wasatia organization, a moderate Islamic initiative, had not received any threats against him or his property, nor has he been the target of such an attack in the past.

The attack saddens him more than it frightens him, he said.

“I am sad about the mentality and culture that makes people who disagree use violence instead of dialogue. This is the culture we’d like to change through our plans to set up a Wasatia academic center to teach conciliation and conflict resolution.”

The copy of the Quran that survived the torching of Mohammed Dajani's car, January 16, 2015. (Courtesy of Mohammed Dajani)
The copy of the Quran that survived the torching of Mohammed Dajani’s car, January 16, 2015. (Courtesy of Mohammed Dajani)

According to Dajani, he is working to obtain support for the center and its proposed PhD program, which would have its headquarters in Jerusalem and branches in the West Bank.

Dajani believes that not only must bridges be built between Israelis and Palestinians, but also between radical and moderate Muslims within Palestinian society.

“Wasatia is all about building a base for moderate Islam,” he said.

Poignantly, a copy of the Quran that Dajani had left in the car did not burn and was retrieved intact.

“Last night, my car was burned, and all I have to say is: Islam is my religion, and moderation is my doctrine and my way of life,” Dajani wrote on his Facebook page on Saturday.

Israeli police have not responded to queries on the arson incident.

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