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With the onset of the academic year and in light of the difficult political circumstances facing the Palestinian people (children and adults), the Gender Studies Project (GSP) at MADA Al-Carmel, appeals to all those who believe in the importance of the right to education to support us in petitioning the Israeli government to respect this right. It is imperative that this basic human right can be exercised without infringement and that students can receive their education free from fear, danger and violence. The Israeli government must guarantee this right and stop violations in all parts of Palestinian society (in the Palestinian community within Israel and in the West Bank and Gaza Strip). Even though there is a disparity in the severity of the violations and repression practiced by the Israeli authorities in these two areas, in practice the policy on both sides has the same outcome: depriving Palestinians of their right to education.
The racist Israeli policies deprive and violate Palestinians’ right to education and are used by the hegemonic power holders as a means of discrimination. Such discriminatory practices are apparent in not providing safe access to schools and institutions of higher education in unrecognized villages in the Galilee and the Negev, or by the militarization of educational spaces, the imposition of checkpoints or other militarized barriers (such as the separation wall) in the occupied Palestinian territories. The cumulative effect of these practices is a blatant violation of the right of students (especially females who are the most vulnerable segment of society) to study in an educational context that is safe and free from violence.
Studies and surveys have examined the violations against the Palestinians’ right to education and these have highlighted various oppressive policies and practices, among them the following:
1. There is discrimination in the allocation of budgets and resources to Palestinian schools in Israel when compared to their equivalent Jewish schools. While the state spends an average of $1100 US per year, per Jewish student, it spends only an average of $190 US per, year per Palestinian student who is an Israeli citizen. In other words, the Israeli Ministry of Education spends six times more on Jewish students than on Palestinian students in Israel.
2. The physical dilapidation of the majority of Palestinian schools inside Israel results in the deterioration of the learning environment: “A serious consequence of this relates to health and safety accidents which pose a real threat to the lives of students.”
3. Many students, mainly females, are deprived of their right to education in unrecognized villages in the Galilee and Negev due to the lack of schools in these villages. Students are forced to walk long distances along unpaved roads to access schools located in nearby villages and towns. In the case of the village of Abu-Tlool the patriarchal social structure and Israeli state policy reinforce one another to deprive female students of education. The effect of such discriminatory policy on female students is very significant and is reflected in the very high “drop-out” rate among Palestinian female students in Israel.
4. University admission policies discriminate against Palestinian students in Israel. Palestinian university applicants in Israel encounter lower rates of acceptance, especially for subjects such as medicine and electronics, and this severely limits possibilities of fulfilling their academic potential and in some cases deprives them entirely of their right to higher education.
5. Discrimination against Palestinian students in Israel when allocating accommodation at the University of Haifa because of the inclusion of military services as a criterion for determining the allocation of student housing.
6. Repeated military bombings, artillery attacks, indiscriminate gunfire towards, and military raids of, Palestinian schools in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as well as the conversion of schools into military detention facilities. These violent practices lead to confused and inconsistent periods of study and undermine students’ right to education.
7. Exposing students in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to physical, psychological, and sexual violence and abuse due to the militarization of educational spaces.
8. The violation of the right of children in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to education and even to life, as a result of military attacks, arrests, humiliation, injury and martyrdom.
9. Severe violations of the right of children with special needs (such as those children that are physically or mentally handicapped) to education.
10. Forcing students and their teachers to change or leave schools due to the constant militaristic violations including the construction of the Israeli separation wall. These violations deprive some students of their right to education — temporarily or permanently.
11. Military raids of universities and colleges in the occupied territories causing widespread material damage and destruction of educational infrastructure such as laboratories, computers, libraries and other buildings, severely restricting the provision of education.
12. Students in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are also prevented from reaching their educational institutions and of selecting their preferred educational topic. For instance, students from Gaza are denied permission to travel to the West Bank to study medicine and physiotherapy by the Israeli permit system.
We, at the Gender Studies Project at MADA, appeal to the heads of Israeli universities, colleges and academic institutions, feminist researchers and human rights activists to support this petition to respect and value the right of Palestinian students in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza Strip to receive the education to which they are entitled. We call upon policy-makers and decision-makers to intervene to reverse the militarization of the roads, schools and universities and the violation of the right of the individual to education, and to simultaneously increase investment in the development of projects that challenge Israeli militaristic racist and repressive policies.
Defending the rights of Palestinians in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza to education calls us to act now, at the beginning of the school year, and appeal to those in power to end the oppression and the violence of the militaristic policies and protect one of the basic human rights — the right to education.
Please support this petition and demand respect for one of the most basic human rights: the right to education.
For full text of the petition in both Arabic and English, please click here: References:
1. Cook ,Jonathan (2006). On the Margins – Annual Review of Human Rights Violations of the Arab Palestinian Minority in Israel 2005. Nazareth: Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA)
3. Cook ,Jonathan, Ibid
6. (a) Murray, H. (2004) Barriers to Education: The Israeli Military Obstruction of Access to Schools and Universities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Right to Education Campaign, Birzeit University, Palestine, July
(b) Al-Haq. Palestinian Education Under Israeli Occupation. Paper Presented at the Conference on “International Law in the Shadow of Israeli Occupation” Stockholm, Sweden on 12 April 2005 .
(c)Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistic, 2002.
7. Shalhoob-Kevorkian, Nadera (2006).. Gender, Occupation and Education: Law, gender and the militarization of spaces in the Palestinian Authority. Jerusalem: Women Studies Centre
8. Arafat C., with N. A. Boothby (2003). Psychosocial Assessment of Palestinian Children. For the Secretariat of the National Plan of Action for Palestinian Children
9. Shalhoub-Kevorkian, N. & Khsheiboun, S. (2006). Coping with Trauma: Palestinian children voicing out their rights. Report submitted to: World Vision International: Australia
10. (a) Shalhoub Kevorkian, N. (2006a). Negotiating the present, historizing the future: Palestinian children speak about the Israeli Separation Wall. American Behavioral Scientist, 49(8).
(b). Gisha Report (2006)
(c ). Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (2002)
11. Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (2002)
12. Gisha Report (2006)