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The Jordan Valley
The aim behind travelling to the Jordan Valley was to observe and research the standard of education and infrastructure of institutions. We visited the villages of Fasayal, Zubeidat and Al Ka’abineh. With 95% of the Jordan Valley classified as Area C and under complete Israeli military control it is greatly neglected and therefore there is a stark contrast with education in Area A & B.
The school in Al Ka’abineh has 70 students – a basic structure made of tin and concrete it has 6 demolition orders, with inadequate sanitation facilities and lacking in library or IT facilities. The school highlighted the major obstacle faced by Palestinian schools in the area of obtaining permits to build permanent structures.
The village of Fasayal is divided into Area B & C and has a school with 150 students built without permit. In recent years it has increased its capacity with more classrooms meaning students are taught grade-specifically. However they are still unable to take the Tawjihi for which they have to travel to Jericho.
The village of Zubeidat has a preschool that is solely funded by the women who run it and admission fees. Due to the high rate of unemployment and low wages in the region, many parents cannot afford the fees. They have insufficient teaching resources for the 40 kids. Many of the children don’t continue to further education due to the lack of job opportunities at the end- instead working in the settlements. Those who do, move closer to An-Najah University because of movement restriction and often don’t return due to the lack of employment opportunities.
There is also a disparity between the education of girls and boys; parents prefer daughters not to have to travel because of fear of harassment faced from settlers and soldiers.
Divestment abroad: UCR and UCSD
The last couple of months have seen interesting developments on West Coast of the United States at the University of California. Both UC Riverside and UC San Diego’s student councils have followed in UC Berkeley’s footsteps by voting to divest from Israel. While the votes have not produced binding legislation, they show a strong indication that there is a movement to support the Palestinian cause.
The Right to Education Campaign offered a letter of support to the UC San Diego campaign informing them of the ways in which the Israeli occupation affects students here in Palestine from travel restrictions and checkpoints to arbitrary arrest by Israeli Occupying Forces.
While UC Berkeley, Irvine, Riverside and now San Diego have all successfully divested, Stanford University formed a notable exception in rejecting a proposal to divest from Israel, instead passing a separate resolution expressing its firm stance against investment in companies that cause “substantial social injury.” While this is not the idea outcome, it does indicate a level of awareness of the students at Stanford to the injustice.
The successes within the University of California are a great sign of growing awareness and we hope that more universities will follow in their footsteps.
Research into British Universities’ Complicity in Israel’s Occupation
R2E have been working on a database of British universities’ complicity in the occupation, as part of a new project with the BDS national committee. Freedom of Information requests were sent to all British Universities, with almost a hundred replying with information about their investment portfolios. As was to be expected, several Universities have attempted to avoid transparency and rejected the request on a technicality, which could be challenged in future. The FOI requests revealed that British Universities are investing their money in a range of banks and corporations which profit from or aid the occupation economically, including arms firm BAE Systems who supply Israeli F16s with components that have been used against Palestinian universities, and G4S, the security company who equip Israel’s prisons were Palestinian students are regularly detained. This information will be collated and eventually published to encourage British students to consider their own complicity with the occupation and to provide resources for them to successfully push for divestment on their campuses.
Birzeit University Student Prisoners
Recently, we have conducted several interviews with students who have spent time in military detention. The information gathered from these students will be made available for Addameer prisoner rights group, to create profiles of ex-prisoners. One of those students, Na’el, spoke powerfully about how imprisonment had affected his education: ‘I was supposed to be in university from 2005 until 2009, but because of the arrest, I was not able to finish my education on time.’ He explained that this policy was a frequent tactic of the occupation, affecting many students, including three of his brothers, ‘as a family we experienced arrests nine times. The same way – the same violence and fear’. With around 40% of Palestinian men and 20% of all Palestinians detained since 1967, unlawful imprisonment (often for months without trial as Administrative Detention) has been a tactic the Israeli occupation uses to stifle political dissent against other features of the occupation. Student politics is effectively criminalized by military orders, and many members of student councils have been arrested as a result for ‘belonging to an illegal organisation’. Israel is forcing students to depoliticise as a strategy to entrench the occupation, whilst such imprisonments (there are currently around 100 BZU students are detained) has detrimental long-term effects on Palestinian education.
Military courts and Hassan Karajah
Though collaboration with Addameer, the prisoners support group, we were able to attend hearings at Israeli military courts for Hassan Karajah, a human rights activist working for Stop the Wall, who has worked with the Campaign and is also a Birzeit University graduate. There are currently 91 Birzeit students in Israeli prison, with 24 of those yet to be charged.
We have managed to attend several of Hassan’s hearings both at Jalameh detention centre near Haifa and at Ofer. He was held in solitary confinement between his arrest on January 23rd and his most recent hearing on March 6th. As well as this, he was interrogated for up to fourteen hours a day by the same interrogators responsible for Arafat Jaradat’s death.
Hassan was charged on March 6th with:
1) Membership in an “illegal organisation” – based on his membership in student government organisations during his time at Birzeit University, and renting out DJ equipment to a group that used it to celebrate an anniversary of the DFLP.
2) Contact with an “illegal organisation” – based on allegations he remained in contact with a member of Hizballah after a trip t Lebanon in 2012.
While these charges are clearly trumped up, they are enough to keep Hassan detained. He has another hearing on April 9th.
Hassan’s case is a further example of the further trail that Palestinians face for simply getting an education and taking part in student life, as his arbitrary detention goes to show several years after his graduation.