Christian Zionist John Hagee and Gov. Rick Perry Pushing Plan to Bring Texas A&M University to Major Palestinian Area in Israel
John Hagee, the head of Christians United for Israel.
Photo Credit: House of Praise/Flickr
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Palestine solidarity activists are campaigning against plans by Texas A&M University to take over a college in Nazareth, the city in present-day Israel with the highest number of Palestinian citizens.
“We find it impossible to support an A&M branch in Israel,” Jala Naguib, an Aggies for Palestine spokesperson, told The Electronic Intifada by email. Aggies for Palestine is a Texas A&M student human rights group.
“I believe it is a poor precedent to set in continuing to support a nation that has repeatedly violated human rights and has repeatedly pursued a policy of apartheid towards the Palestinian people,” Naguib added.
Texas A&M, the sixth largest university in the United States, intends to raise $70 million to assume control of the Nazareth Academic Institute.
Texas Governor Rick Perry and Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp announced the plans to establish an international “peace campus” while meeting with with Israeli president Shimon Peres in Jerusalem in October (“ Rick Perry to announce Texas A&M campus in Nazareth,” The Daily Beast, 22 October 2013).
“We think this is an extremely dangerous project for Palestinians in Nazareth,” said Omar Barghouti, founding committee member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI).
“It’s another colonial project by Israel — to further colonize our space, whatever space is left of the Palestinian space within the state of Israel.”
In a recent statement, Texas A&M noted that the agreement to establish a branch in Nazareth was signed on 23 October (“ Texas A&M University to open a branch in Israel,” 23 October 2013).
Perry’s involvement first became known back in July, when he ostensibly confused religious affiliation and ethnicity while telling The Washington Times that he “will be going to Israel to bring together Arabs, Christians and Jews in an educational forum” (“ Rick Perry’s October trip to Israel sign of another White House bid,” 11 July 2013).
Yet North Texas BDS — a Fort Worth-based organization that promotes boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel — has called on Texas A&M to halt the project so long as Israel “continues spending billions of dollars to destroy a people both inside and outside [its] borders,” said Diane Wood, the group’s co-founder.
Noting Perry and Hagee’s support for Israel, Wood said that “erecting a North American university in the midst of an area where Palestinians are suffering from illegal apartheid … raises serious questions as to the reason for this [campus].”
Perry is known for his staunch support of Israel as well as a number of racist and misinformed comments about Palestinians. Additionally, since his unsuccessful 2012 presidential campaign, Perry’s longstanding ties to Christian Zionist leaders have been brought to light.
“Historian T.R. Fehrenbach once observed that my home state of Texas and Israel share the experience of ‘civilized men and women thrown into new and harsh conditions, beset by enemies,’” he wrote in an opinion piece for The Jerusalem Post in September 2011 (“ The Palestinians’ illegitimate UN gambit,” 15 September 2011).
Appearing next to extreme right-wing Israeli diplomat Danny Ayalon in New York Citythat same month, Perry told a group of reporters that Christians “have a clear directive to support Israel, so from my perspective it’s pretty easy. Both as an American and as a Christian, I am going to stand with Israel” (“ Rick Perry’s speech reaches out to pro-Israel Jews, Christian Zionists,” The Houston Chronicle, 20 September 2011).