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CALIFORNIA SCHOLARS FOR ACADEMIC FREEDOM (CS4AF),* a group of 100 scholars at 20 California institutions of higher learning, joins our colleagues from around the world in condemning the Israeli assault and ongoing threat of assault on Gaza.
Militarily attacking a civilian occupied population is a clear violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and represents the latest phase of a war that Israel has been waging against the people of Palestine for more than 60 years, a war that has turned Gaza and the West Bank into a pair of gigantic political prisons. It has long been difficult to get an education in these prisons, and now in Gaza it is not possible at all.
According to the Right to Education campaign of Birzeit University, the Gazan educational system has been unable to function for the last three weeks as a consequence of Israeli attacks: 27 of UNRWA’s installations – almost all of which are schools – have been used to shelter 45,000 desperate Gazans who have fled their homes in response to threatened and actual bombardments by the Israeli army. Then, on the 6th of January, 3 UNRWA schools were bombed, killing all who were inside, in one case 42 people, and injuring 55. A number of other schools have been hit – on the 17th of January, Israeli forces shelled a UN-run school in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip, killing a mother and son. As well as taking lives, the attacks on Palestinian schools deprive thousands of children – those who have survived – of their educational facilities in the near future. A total of 67 schools have been destroyed as of the 17th of January.
Israel’s declaration of a unilateral ceasefire, its stated intent to keep its troops in Gaza, and its claim that it has the right to renew its assault at its discretion are unacceptable resolutions to this situation. Israel must accept that its security depends on justice and peaceful coexistence with its neighbors, and not upon the criminal use of force.
We call for an international investigation into Israel’s violations of international and humanitarian law during this assault on Gaza. As scholars, we demand that Israel allow reporters, doctors, and scholars into Gaza to investigate the serious charges that have been lodged against it. We also demand that Israel revoke orders banning its own Arab citizens the right to form political parties and to participate in the democratic voting process.
Furthermore, in light of calls from Palestinian educational institutions that are bearing the brunt of this brutal attack on the right to education and life itself, we call for a national forum to discuss an academic/cultural boycott of Israel.