Posted by: Harold Knight | 01/06/2014


This posting presents information about the plan for Texas A&M University essentially to take over a struggling Arab university in Nazareth, the city in Israel with the largest Christian and Arab population. The plan was fostered by Texas Governor Perry and Chancellor John Sharp, with the help of John Hagee, the Fundamentalist “Dispensationalist” preacher from San Antonio. Hagee’s role is explained in the article by Thomas Cook below.

Hagee’s continuing role as the project moves forward is unclear. However, Steve Moore, Texas A&M Vice Chancellor of Marketing & Communications, in an email dated January 8, 2014, stated, “. . . this effort will be funded entirely through private donations.” He has not responded to questions about who will spearhead the drive for donations.

Hirak, the Center for the Advancement of Higher Education in Arab Society has attempted for about ten years to establish a Palestinian university in Nazareth but has been unable to receive funding or recognition from the government of Israel. Leaders of Hirak wrote a background study of the difficulties in attempting to provide higher education for Palestinians in Israel. The Study.

The following are sources of information about the Texas A&M plan (which is all but accomplished). SECTIONS I. and III. are the most important.

I.           Excerpts from an Email from the North Texas Boycott, Divest and Sanction of Israel Campaign.

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).

John Hagee, a right-wing Christian Zionist pastor leading the lobby group Christians United for Israel, is also involved in the project. . . .

II.       From, the online edition of Haaretz Newspaper in Israel:

Texas A&M University to establish new campus in Nazareth
U.S. University will take over operations of the Nazareth Academic Institute, which has not received state funding since its establishment in 2010.

By Yarden Skop  | Oct. 22, 2013 | 9:31 PM

Texas A&M will sign an agreement on Wednesday to open a branch in Nazareth, making it the first American university to decide to set up a campus in Israel.

The agreement was announced Tuesday by the President’s Residence, the Education Ministry and the Council for Higher Education. President Shimon Peres will preside over Wednesday’s signing ceremony, which will be attended by Texas Governor Rick Perry and Texas A&M chancellor John Sharp.

The new campus in Nazareth is meant to provide an alternative for the many Arab Israelis who currently attend college abroad. Essentially, Texas A&M will take over the city’s existing college, the Nazareth Academic Institute, which was established in 2010 specifically to serve the Arab population. Having suffered from many problems in its effort to function as an independent institution – above all, a lack of state financing . . . (the Haaretz account continues below)


III.          Thomas Cook, the internationally known journalist explains the appalling development in his blog. This is the single most thorough source of information on this topic. Notice especially the section of the article regarding the role of John Hagee in this plan.


      IV.             Several accounts from various news sources:·   


·        The official announcement from Texas A&M University:
NEWS RELEASE,  Oct. 23, 2013

       From the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel

·        Background political information from the Dallas Morning News about Rick Perry’s involvement is here.

·        More background information from the Dallas Morning News about the Texas/Israel connection is here.

·        San Antonio weighs in.

·        The Austin Statesman account is here.

       Another article in detail about the situation from AlterNet.

In John Hagee’s own words:

V.               Conclusion of Haaretz article:

. . . . – NAI welcomed the prestigious American university’s entry into the picture, hoping it will finally provide a proper institute of higher education for the Arab population.

“We hoped and wanted to be an Israeli academic institution in every respect, not a branch [of a foreign university,]” said NAI’s dean of students, Soher Bsharat. “But when we didn’t find a budgeting solution, and ran into many problems, we saw that cooperation with Texas, which is a respected university, was a solution.”

Texas A&M has promised to raise $70 million to build its Nazareth campus, which will be known as Texas A&M Peace University, as well as additional millions for an endowment to finance its operations. Classes will be taught in English by lecturers from Texas A&M. The university will be open to both Jewish and Arab students.

Sharp, the Texas A&M chancellor, was a driving force behind the decision to open a campus in Israel. “I wanted a presence in Israel,” he said, in an interview with the New York Times. “I have felt a kinship with Israel.”

To pursue his goal, Sharp, a longtime supporter of Jewish and Israeli causes, sought help from Pastor John C. Hagee, the founder of Christians United for Israel. Hagee helped him make contact with officials in Israel.

But locating the branch in Nazareth was Peres’ idea, according to the president’s advisor on social issues, Yosef Angel. The university, he said, “wanted to open a branch in Israel and was looking for a suitable place to establish it. They consulted us, and we advised them to look into Nazareth. They visited and fell in love with the place.”

NAI currently offers degrees in two subjects – chemistry and communications. It has 120 students, 90 percent of them women.

But it has never received any state funding, despite repeated requests, and despite an OECD recommendation that Israel should fund the college. NAI’s president, Prof. George Kanaza, told Haaretz three years ago that the Council for Higher Education even conditioned the institution’s accreditation on a promise not to apply for state funding. “Apparently, the CHE hoped we would expire from lack of funds,” he told Haaretz at the time.

The CHE’s argument for refusing to fund the college was that Israel already has plenty of colleges and doesn’t need another state-funded institution. Since then, however, the government has approved upgrading the college in Ariel to a university, while NAI remains unfunded, despite the dire need for more academic institutions serving the Arab public.

Recently, the CHE’s Planning and Budgeting Committee delayed approval approval of a new campus for NAI, even though the college had already obtained a plot of land from the Israel Lands Administration and the Nazareth municipality, as well as a pledged donation to finance construction. The latter came from Palestinian millionaire Munib al-Masri.


  1. […] The second or first is to teach for a semester or a year or some length of time at either Dar al-Kalima College in Bethlehem or Birzeit University in Birzeit (just north of Ramallah in the Central West Bank). This is not an unrealistic pipe dream […]



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