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A Call to End Suppression by Israel of the Academic Freedom and the Right to Education of Faculty, Educators and Students in Palestine
Everyone has the right to education………
Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace
Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
“……Within the unique university context, the most crucial of all human rights are the rights of freedom of speech, academic freedom, and freedom of research.”
from the Mission Statement, University of Toronto
Academic freedom and the right to education are fundamental rights for all peoples of the world. These rights transcend all cultures, religions and countries and, as explicitly stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, are the responsibility of all people to protect, nurture and promote.
During the illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza by Israel, which is now in its 42nd year, Palestinian academic institutions have come under continuous harassment by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) including:
– forceable closure of Palestinian universities and schools, including kindergarten, in the West Bank and Gaza
– school-age children and university students held in detention and subjected to abuse
– physical destruction of academic materials including computers, labs, classrooms and buildings
– prevention of faculty, educators and students from travelling to or entering universities and schools through use of checkpoints, trenches, concrete blocks and The Separation Wall, ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice
– Western Nations withholding of funds resulting in the Palestinian Authority’s inability to pay educators’ salaries and for basic school supplies
– a two-tier system in Israel where Arab Israeli children are funded less than their Jewish counterparts
More recently, we observe that Israel has created the conditions in Gaza which violate the very basic rights to education and academic freedom. These include:
– students have been prevented from leaving Gaza to study at universities abroad
– aid, food and fuel have been blocked from entering Gaza, creating a humanitarian crisis and the conditions known to be antithetical to teaching, learning and research
– on December 29th, 2008 the Islamic University was specifically targeted and bombed by the IDF in their recent assault on the people of Gaza
– on January 7, 2009, the UN School in the Jabaliya refugee camp was also bombed by the IDF, resulting in the death of over 40 civilians
– the recent aerial bombardment of Gaza, begun on December 27th, 2008, was initiated at a time when the maximum number of children going to and coming from school would be unprotected and vulnerable to harm
We, academics, educators and faculty members from universities, colleges and schools around the world, condemn in the strongest terms the flagrant violations of the right to education and the academic freedom of our colleagues and their students in Gaza and the West Bank.
We call on the presidents, directors and principals of each of our respective educational institutions to publicly state, as they have previously concerning issues of academic freedom, their opposition to Israel’s active suppression of the academic freedom and right to education of faculty, educators and students in Palestine.
We call on the leaders in each of our countries to meet with Consular Representatives of Israel in order to condemn the flagrant violations by Israel of the rights of the faculty, teachers and students.
We appeal to our colleagues in Israel to join our efforts by signing on to this petition in order to voice their opposition to the policies of the Israeli Government that suppress the basic rights of Palestinian faculty members, teachers and students.