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Right to Education

Birzeit University hosts students from University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, University of Virginia, Harvard University, and New York University

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In the past two weeks, Birzeit University hosted students from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, the University of Virginia, New York University and Harvard University, U.S.

Dr. Rania Barakat, director of the Birzeit University Museum, introduced students to the museum and the current art exhibition, “The Man who Talked Until He Disappeared: Bani Abidi in Palestine.” Dr. Barakat explored universities as a symbol of modernity and discussed how universities, particularly Birzeit University, function/dysfunction under colonialism. She also discussed decolonizing museums and resisting the portrayal of the colonized as people who belong to the past.

Dr. Ala Alazzeh, director of the Palestine and Arabic Studies program, introduced students to the program, which offers international students the opportunity to study the Arabic language and learn about Palestine and the Arab world.

Dr. Barakat and Dr. Alazzeh discussed visa restrictions for international students and Israeli directives that isolate Palestinian universities and curtail academic freedom.

The students met with Sundos Hammad, organizer of the Right to Education campaign, and discussed Israeli violations against Birzeit University students, including campus raids, student arrests and digital rights violations.

The students also talked with the Right to Education volunteers and Birzeit University students and inquired about their experiences at the university.

Later, they met with Sam Bahour, American-Palestinian entrepreneur and human rights activist, and representatives from Al-Haq, an organization that documents human rights violations in Palestine; Addameer, a Palestinian non-governmental organization that monitors the treatment of Palestinian prisoners and provides legal assistance; Oxfam, a global movement that provides help to Gazans impoverished by the Israeli blockade and promotes human rights in the West Bank; and the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement that works to end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and pressures Israel to comply with international law. 

The Harvard University and New York University delegation met with Dr. Amir Khalil, director of the External Academic Relations Office at Birzeit University. During the meeting, Dr. Khalil introduced the students to the university and discussed the mission of his office to internationalize it. He presented the opportunities available to international students and also highlighted the challenges that the university faces in recruiting students and staff.

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