Greetings from the Right to Education Campaign (R2E), Birzeit University
May - June 2009
Fact sheet summarizing key facts related to higher education: http://right2edu.birzeit.edu/
Fact sheet with information specific to education in Gaza , including Gisha figures 2 years since the closure of Gaza began and the attacks on educational institutions in December 2008 – January 2009: http://right2edu.birzeit.edu/
R2E Campaign student volunteers to participate in SBA Workshop: A group of 8 North American student activists are currently in the West Bank as part of the “Students Boycott Apartheid” (SBA) delegation. As a part of their trip they will participate in a workshop with Palestinian student activists from the R2E Campaign, Stop the Wall and Baladna Association for Arab Youth. The aim is to promote student to student solidarity and to give the North American students tools to take back to promote the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) campaign (http://www.bdsmovement.net/) on their campuses. More news on this in the next e-bulletin!
International Visitors meet with the R2E: In May the Associate Executive Director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), Mr. David Robinson was in Palestine to visit Universities to gather information about the higher education system in Palestine and ways in which academic freedom is infringed upon by the Occupation. The information will be used for a report and recommendations for Education International, and will be submitted to the joint UNESCO/ ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of the Recommendations concerning Teachers. Mr. Robinson visited Birzeit where he met with the President of the Palestinian Union of University Professors and Employees, Academics involved in PACBI and the R2E Campaign.
In May R2E student volunteers met with a delegation from the Centre for Dialogue at La Trobe University, Australia. The delegation included Joseph Anthony Camilleri, a Professor of International Relations and the Founding Director of the Centre for Dialogue at La Trobe University, Michalis S. Michael, a Research Fellow at the Centre for Dialogue and Luca Anceschi, a Research Associate at the Centre for Dialogue. In June 8 Presidents of Flemish Universities in Belgium visited Birzeit University , where they met with BZU University President and other Heads of Faculties. They also were given a presentation on the R2E Campaign, for further information see http://www.birzeit.edu/news/
A delegation of students from Action Palestine, the UK nationwide student movement active on Palestine issues and affiliate of the R2E Campaign, is currently on a visit to Palestine . They visited Birzeit University in June, where they heard a lecture on the general political situation by Dr. Samir Awad, a lecturer from the Department of Political Science and met with the Student Council and R2E student volunteers.
R2E report released in French: A report on the R2E has been released in French in cooperation with l’Association pour une Solidarité Syndicale Étudiante (ASSÉ) and la Fédération nationale des enseignantes et des enseignants du Québec (FNEEQ-CSN), who kindly translated R2E materials to create this report:
PAS UPDATE – The Palestinian and Arabic Studies Program at Birzeit University is an academic program that offers international students the opportunity to combine the study of Arabic with social science courses about Palestine and the Arab World. Every semester a number of international students join this program, and unfortunately every semester a number of students are also denied entry or visa renewals by Israeli immigration controls, in order to start or continue their studies at Birzeit. As the state of Israel controls the borders and population register of the occupied Palestinian territories (oPts), it has de facto control over which students and teachers can access Birzeit University . This semester three PAS students were denied entry to the oPt and therefore were denied their right to education, as they were unable to attend the summer semester at Birzeit University .
American Teacher at Birzeit Denied Academic Freedom
R2E Campaign, Birzeit Universty, 5 May 2009
Julie Dylan is one of the many international teachers working at universities throughout the oPt who are reliant on three-month tourist visas in order to continue teaching here. Israel controls the borders and population register of the oPt and therefore has de facto control over who has access to teach, study or work at Birzeit University. Cases of deportations, denials of entry and denials of visa renewals for international passport holders have increased dramatically since 2006. Julie was once deported in 2008, and constantly runs the risk of being deported again, putting her in a very stressful situation.
Historic vote at NUS meeting to support Palestinians’ right to education: On June 30th, at the National Executive Meeting of the National Union of Students (NUS), UK , the National Executive Committee (NEC) voted to support Palestinians’ right to education and also for a policy calling to encourage student unions to twin with Palestinian Universities. Read the text of the motion passed here: http://right2edu.birzeit.edu/
In May, Essex University Student Union passed a motion to twin with Birzeit University Student Council, and to affiliate to the R2E Campaign. In the same month Goldsmiths Student Union ( University of London , UK ) also passed a motion to affiliate. As a part of Goldsmiths S.U’s activities for the following academic year, they have resolved to work on implementing the motion passed this year to support BDS (both within Goldsmiths and surrounding supermarkets), the Academic Boycott, promoting volunteer work for Goldsmiths students in refugee camps in Palestine, organising a second delegation to visit Palestine, participating in the annual Right to Education week across UK university campuses and to work on a campaign on student political prisoners. They also aim to include a column in their student newspaper and magazine featuring an article from a Palestinian student in each issue. Goldsmiths Student Union is already twinned with Al Quds Open University and their delegation recently visited An-Najah National University on their tour of Palestine .
Letter-writing Campaigns in solidarity with administrative detainees: This spring, two events were held in Toronto in support of Palestinian administrative detainees, hosted by the Right to Education Campaign Canada , the Toronto Anarchist Black Cross Federation, Students Against Israeli Apartheid ( University of Toronto ) and Teachers for Palestine. On March 29 and May 31, letter-writing dinners were held at Anitafrika! Dub Theatre, a local community space, and the public was invited to share food and camaraderie while learning about the cases of detainees. At the first event, recorded solidarity statements from North American political prisoners Jaan Laaman, David Gilbert and Marilyn Buck were played. Yafa Jarrar of the Peterborough Coalition for Palestinian Solidarity gave an introductory presentation on the conditions faced by Palestinian political prisoners, particularly students, youth and women. Participants then wrote letters to authorities on behalf of Birzeit student detainee Arafat Mudar Mohammad Daoud, as well as women detainees at Hashron Prison. At the second event, new cases were discussed, including Mousa Abu Maria, co-founder of the Palestine Solidarity Project (PSP), who was held without charge for over a year. Letters were also written to the detainees and their families expressing solidarity. For further information, see http://right2edu.birzeit.edu/
news/article818. Soon after the event, official responses were received from the EU Commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner and from the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute. These letters specifically mentioned the cases they had hoped to bring to their attention. In May the student Arafat Daoud was released and in June, Mousa Abu Maria was also released. Organizers in Toronto plan to continue these public education and letter-writing events in the Fall of 2009.
On Thursday, June 25th, the Toronto-based Right to Education Campaign Coalition met to set campaign goals for the coming year. Reps from the University of Toronto Students ' Union, Ryerson Students' Union, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education Graduate Students Association, York Federation of Students, Ontario University Workers Coordinating Committee, and Educators for Peace and Justice were present. The meeting began with a video conference with members of the University of Manchester Students ' Union (twinned with An-Najah) and Action Palestine who were successful in securing scholarships for Palestinian students after a month-long occupation of the university in January. The Canadian R2E Coalition then set concrete goals for the coming year, including organizing a Right to Education symposium, as well as a delegation of students and teachers from Palestine to Canada .
1. News and Updates
AAUJ and the effects of occupation and conflict
Inshirah Jaber, Director of Student Services, Office of the dean of students, AAUJ, 30 June 2009
Fact sheet on the Arab American Univeristy of Jenin (AAUJ) and the ways in which it has been affected by the Israeli occupation, including arrests, assassinations, closures, confiscation of property, restrictions on foreign passport holders and various personal stories.
Israeli forces detain student from Nablus
Nablus, Ma’an, 28 June 2009
Israeli forces detained an An-Najah National University student on Sunday morning, after stopping his car for inspection.
Israeli troops take high school student from home in dawn raid
Tulkarem, Ma’an, 19 June 2009
Israeli troops detained a high school student taking his final exams from his home in Tulkarem and took him to unknown destination early Friday morning.
High school pupils get set for Tawjihi exams but future prospects look dim
Nasser Najjar, Correspondent, Gulf News, 13 June 2009
About 87,000 Palestinian pupils start their final high school examinations this week throughout Occupied Palestine. About 45% of these students are in Gaza , where students are struggling to balance their studies with work to support their families after the attacks on Gaza earlier this year. Students also suffer due to the power cuts in Gaza and are often forced to study by candle-light.
Report on Israeli Police/ Military escort of school children to and from At-Tuwani
Report, Operation Dove/ CPT, 4 June 2009
Read the report on the Israeli military escort which is supposed to accompany children from surrounding villages to their school in At-Tuwani, a village in the South Hebron Hills, in order to protect them from settler attacks. This report covers the period of the 17th of May 2009 to the 4th of June 2009.
Palestinians in Israeli prisons hunger strike for right to take secondary exams
Nablus, PNN, 2 June 2009
The Center for Prisoners' Studies has warned of a new guideline in Israeli prisons that threatens to prevent Palestinian political prisoners from taking their general secondary exams.
Addameer Video: Administrative Detention – includes teachers and children
Addameer, Prisoner Support and Human Rights Organisation, 28 May 2009
Addameer video on Administrative Detention in the occupied Palestinian territories, released as part of their campaign against Administrative Detention.
Stop institutionalized racism: The Carmel Academic Center in Haifa closes academic track as too many Palestinian students registered
Website, Alternative Information Center , 27 May 2009
The Carmel Academic Center in Haifa shut down the concentration in accounting within its Department of Business Administration because a majority of the students applying were Palestinian citizens of Israel . This was revealed in a news item reported on Israeli news Channel 10 on 24 May (in Hebrew only).
Why Palestinians are calling for a boycott of Israeli Universities
Dr. Amjad Barham, Guardian UK , 26 May 2009
A Palestinian academic union urges British colleagues to back a boycott in support of 'our struggle for justice.
High Court accepts IDF criteria for Palestinian study in Israel
Dan Izenberg, The Jerusalem Post, 25 May 2009
Despite strong objections from the Committee of University Heads, individual academics and the human rights organization Gisha, the High Court of Justice on Monday accepted the army's non-security related criteria for granting Palestinian post-graduate students permits to enter Israel to study at Israeli universities.
Israeli forces quash students’ attempts to quietly commemorate Nakba in Jerusalem
Jerusalem, Ma’an, 16 May 2009
Israeli police detained three Jerusalemites in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound as they participated in a commemoration ceremony marking the 61st anniversary of the Nakba.
Gaza’s school children still struggle after war
Casey Kauffman, Al-Jazeera English, 15 May 2009
Hamid al-Mallahi studies under a streetlight when it works, walks an hour or more to school and sleeps in a tent that could collapse at any moment. More than four months after Israel 's 22-day offensive on Gaza , life for the 14 year-old-is similar to that of thousands of other children still living in makeshift camps. Al Jazeera's Casey Kauffman reports from Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza .
Report on Israeli Police/ Military Escort to and from school in At-Tuwani
Report, Operation Dove/ CPT, 10 May 2009
Read the report on the Israeli military escort which is supposed to accompany children from surrounding villages to their school in At-Tuwani, a village in the South Hebron Hills, in order to protect them from settler attacks. This report covers the period of the 9th of April 2009 to the 9th of May 2009.
IDF fired missile that killed 30-40 people in Gaza School
Middle East News, Monsters & Critics Site, 5 May 2009
United Nations investigators found that Israeli missiles killed 30 to 40 Palestinians in the immediate vicinity of the Jabalia school in Gaza Strip, where hundreds of others had taken refuge during the Israel-Hamas conflict, according to a report released Tuesday.
Palestinian Student’s Heartfelt Letter to Obama
Meryll Ann Butler, Oped News, 3 May 2009
An instructor at Birzeit University - the most prestigious university in Palestine - recently gave a class of English students an intriguing assignment: after they had researched President Obama's foreign policy on the Middle East , they were to compose a letter to him.
2. International Activism News
Boycotting the Israeli Academy
Interview with David Lloyd by John Osmand, Socialistworker.org, 25 June 2009
Israel's ongoing siege of Gaza has provoked an international outcry and organizing in support of Palestinian rights. Among the responses is a movement for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) to pressure Israel in a variety of ways. This strategy takes as its inspiration the international movement to end apartheid in South Africa . David Lloyd is a founding member of the U.S. Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (US-ACBI), established in January, and a professor of English at the University of Southern California . Lloyd spoke to John Osmand about academic boycotts and academic freedom.
UC Davis students move to cancel study abroad in Israel
Yaman, Kabobfest, 8 June 2009
UC Davis students have formed the EAP Equality Coalition (EEC), calling upon university administrators to discontinue a recently revived study abroad programme in Israel .
The Right to Read Campaign: Reading as Resistance
Campaign, Free Gaza Movement, 8 June 2009
In partnership with Al-Aqsa University , the Free Gaza Movement launches its Right to Read Campaign which will use the FG boats to deliver text books and other educational materials to universities throughout the Gaza Strip.
A call from Palestine: Palestinian students’ campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel
PSACBI, Gaza , Occupied Palestine , 29 May 2009
The Palestinian Students' Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI) calls upon freedom-loving students all over the world to stand in solidarity with us by boycotting Israeli academic institutions for their complicity in perpetuating Israel's illegal military occupation and apartheid system.
UCU Congress endorses boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel despite legal warning
Press Release, BRICUP, 27 May 2009
The University and College Union, representing approximately 120,000 teaching and related staff in colleges and universities in the UK , today passed a number of strongly-worded resolutions in support of the human rights of the Palestinian people and condemning Israeli atrocities in Gaza .
PACBI response to UCU UK Pro-Palestine motions
Statement, PACBI, 27 May 2009
PACBI's statement in response to the British University and College Union's motions on Palestine , passed at its annual congress on 27 May 2009. The UCU's recognition of "the complicity of Israeli educational institutions in colonisation and military preparation," its belief "that international pressure is necessary to force Israel to abide by international law," and its determination to "renew urgently its call to members to reflect on the moral and political appropriateness of collaboration with Israeli educational institutions" as well as to urge "branches to discuss prior to Congress 2010 the Palestinian call for a boycott, disinvestment and sanctions campaign" are the strongest indicators to date that the Union has taken another significant step forward in the consistent direction of ending business-as-usual with Israeli academic institutions.
BDS reaches the northern most university in the world!
Norwegian Academics, PACBI, 5 May 2009
21 staff members of the University of Tromso in Norway have signed a call for the boycott of all Israeli academic institutions.
Guerrilla ad campaign replaces ‘Study in Israel ’ Billboards
SJP, 5 May 2009
Students at UC Berkeley campus have replaced billboards around campus advertising study in Israel with 'guerilla ads' asking "What country uses live ammunition against unarmed children?". Below a photo of identically dressed schoolboys in front of a barbed wire fence is the answer: Israel .
University Occupations over Gaza
Mona Baker, Radical Philosophy, 4 May 2008
At the end of December 2008 a wave of protest occupations swept across UK university campuses in response to the Israeli attacks on Gaza . The 'occupation movement' started on 13 January 2009, when students at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London occupied the Brunei Gallery and issued a list of demands in connection with the atrocities committed in Gaza and the University's links to the arms industry. The national media largely failed to report on the SOAS occupation and others that followed. But the occupying students spread the word themselves, and managed their own publicity via Facebook, Wiki, blogs and YouTube.
3. How You Can Support the Right to Education Campaign
1. Affiliate to the Right to Education Campaign through your union or organization.
2. Raise awareness within your constituency about the issues facing Palestinian education, students and teachers under Israeli military occupation.
· Screen the Campaign film, "A Caged Bird's Song" (copies available online http://www.palestineonlinestore.com/).
· Organise the "Students Under Occupation Take a Stand" photo exhibition and give a presentation on the Right to Education in Palestine
· Organise an action on campus. For example, set up a 'checkpoint', stopping students and faculty on their way to classes, demanding to see their student and staff IDs and raising awareness about the issues facing Palestinian students under occupation.
· If you are a student group, set up a correspondence with university students, through email, instant messenger and video conferences.
3. Support the Right to Education Campaign’s calls for international action against violations of the human right to education in occupied Palestine.
4. Lobby your government to pressure the government of Israel to adhere to its legal obligations to end attacks on civilian infrastructure and to allow unimpeded access for all Palestinians to their educational institutions.
5. Establish connections with Palestinian universities, students and faculty, through solidarity links, twinnings or academic exchange.
6. Start or join divestment campaigns at your university.
7. Organize a delegation to visit universities in Palestine , or help to organize a delegation of Palestinian students and faculty to come on a speaking tour to universities and organizations in your country.
8. Support students affected by the economic blockade, through the "Break the Siege Campaign": http://right2edu.birzeit.edu/
The Right to Education Campaign started in Birzeit University as a response to the closure and criminalization of higher education during the first intifada. The Campaign's main goal is to guarantee article 13 (2)(c) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,1966;
“Higher education shall be made equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity, by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education”
And to defend the human rights of students and staff as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948.
In pursuit of this goal, the Campaign collects information about violations to students and staff that result in an interruption to education; raises awareness of these violations amongst international audiences; lobbies UN and EU mechanisms; provides legal support to imprisoned students; raises awareness of rights amongst the student population; and builds the capacity of students to take on campaigning activities.
The Right to Education Bulletin is a digest of news and campaign information on right to education issues affecting Palestinian students, teachers and academics in the oPt and Israel, released bi-monthly. To subscribe or unsubscribe from this bulletin please email http://firstname.lastname@example.org with SUBSCRIBE or UNSUBSCRIBE in the subject heading.