DURHAM, N.C. – Duke University (search) is in the hot seat over its recent role as host to a Palestinian group’s conference.
The debate was over an event held by the Palestine Solidarity Movement (PSM), (search) which advocates ending Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories through economic sanctions and other non-violent means.
What sparked the protests, however, is the organization leaders' refusal to condemn terrorist activities waged by Palestinian militias.
“It’s not an issue that we can impact,” said Fayyad Sbaihat of the PSM. “Therefore, it is not really plausible to issue statements about it.”
Duke University allowed the conference to proceed in spite of the group's stance, but also permitted peaceful counter-demonstrations.
“At the end of the day, what comes out of that is education,” said Duke spokesman John Burness. “People learn from it.”
Rabbi Steve Ballaban, headmaster of the Davis Academy (search), said he’d no longer send students from his Jewish day school to academic programs at Duke because of the university’s decision to allow the conference on campus. He said the PSM’s refusal to denounce terrorism is the moral equivalent of condoning it.
"They're shirking their moral responsibility," Ballaban said. "The very people whom they refuse to condemn might kill students like my students."
The PSM says its message doesn't incite terrorist violence.
"It is a pretty standard criticism of groups that campaign for Palestinian rights, because any criticism of Israel — especially in this country — is seen as anti-Semitic," said Rann Bar-On of the PSM. "Being Israeli myself, I see that as completely baseless."
Click on the video box at the top of this story to watch a report by FOX News' Jonathan Serrie.