Israel expels dozens of lecturers from Palestine

24th Aug 2018
Israel expels dozens of lecturers from Palestine

Birzeit University (Photo: Oromiya321/Wiki Creative Commons)

Aqila Mumthaz

While Israeli students prepare for their school holidays, Palestinian students in Occupied Territories are not even sure if their institutions will ever open up.

Since last November foreign academics at Palestinian universities started receiving letters refusing extensions to their residency visas as they have ‘been living in the area for more than five years’.

At Birzeit University alone, 15 foreign passport-holding academics requests for visa renewals have been refused or significantly delayed. Faculty who are currently under threat teach in the BA, MA, and PhD programs, are members of university committees, and serve the larger Palestinian community through public seminars and lectures.

The Birzeit University released a statement reprimanding Israel. “These international professors play a critical role not only in the ongoing provision of quality education at Birzeit University but also in the long-term development of Palestinian higher education,” it said, forewarning  a continuation of the policy will cause Palestinian universities to “be further isolated from the global academic environment.”

“Israel imposes a Zionist curriculum on Palestinian schools in annexed East Jerusalem and has devised a Kafkaesque system of work permits in the West Bank that prevents faculty who hold foreign passports from teaching there legally, making them prone to arrest and deportation,” Elia, writing for Middle East Eye explained, in order to avoid checkpoints around the West Bank Birzeits foreign lecturers are “effectively under house arrest”.

The eviction of Palestinian lecturers prevents them from developing academically and would lead to the slow destruction of Palestinian universities. This is nothing new and is just a repetition of the first Palestinian intifada in 1987-1993, when Israel closed down 1,194 Palestinian universities, schools and eventually Kindergartens. This resulted in the so-called “lost generation”. This didn’t stop the most recent assault in 2014, when Israel targeted 153 schools, including the 90 run by the UN and the largest university according to UNICEF.

Birzeit highlighted education as a basic human right by international law and emphasized the Palestinians right to education, reprimanding the Israelis for ignoring responsibility as an occupying power in preventing Palestinians access to education.

The US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) responded by asking faculty to support the academic and cultural boycott of Israel and for students to pledge not to participate in study abroad programme in Israel.

 

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