[The statement was then signed by Sari Nusseibeh and Menachem Magidor, they shook hands, and were applauded. The signing was subsequently covered in an article titled “End to Boycott of Israeli Universities is Urged,” that was published in The New York Times on May 20, 2005.]
Menachem Magidor – This is a very emotional moment for me, because this is really the formalization of something that we at the Hebrew University, and I’m sure in most of the parts of the academic community of Israel, have believed in. We believed, in spite of the fact that we are living in a period and a region of violence and confrontation, that academic cooperation and the interchange of ideas should go on. In spite of all the political obstacles, security obstacles, and whatever you call them, still we should find ways in which to exchange ideas. We will not necessarily agree on everything, but still the free exchange of ideas should go on.
If you want to build, in a deep way, a future of a peaceful, prosperous Middle East in which Israelis and Palestinians and other Arab countries could live together in peace, the only way to build such an intellectual and spiritual infrastructure is by the free exchange of ideas, cooperation in research, and trying to understand the world in which we live. We are trying to make this knowledge useful, to improve the lives of the people living in our region. We are very proud of the fact that, in spite of all the troubles and obstacles, we have managed to keep a level of cooperation and open channels. We are grateful to Professor Sari Nusseibeh, President of Al-Quds University, and his colleagues, for being our partners in this very important venture. Thank you very much for working with us for these goals. Hopefully, that will be another step in the right direction of creating a peaceful, prosperous Middle East.
Sari Nusseibeh – First of all, thank you for providing this opportunity to Professor Magidor and myself to sign this statement in your presence. This came about in a sense somewhat suddenly. Professor Magidor was coming to England, and we have been working on something like this for some time. We therefore decided this would be an opportune moment and indeed an opportune context in which to sign the statement.
The statement is signed between the two universities, and it is important to point out we have, in fact, been trying in the past few years, and in better times and worse times, to create bridges of cooperation, with the aim of bringing people closer together, exchanging ideas, and also in a sense building up trust, at least in the scholarly community, between Israelis and Palestinians.
It has been a very hard effort. It is not easy to build peace and bridges in a context of war and conflict. Indeed, if you look at the overall picture, and you take into account that it has been many years, many decades in which Israelis and Palestinians, Arabs and Israelis, Jews and Arabs, have been fighting. If you look at that, it is amazing, that we have been able, in the past few years—10-15 years perhaps—to build bridges of understanding in the hope that the past will change, that the condition we live in, of war and conflict, will change, and that we will be able to make peace.