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Right to Education Campaign e-Bulletin
Greetings from the Right to Education Campaign (R2E)
March – April 2009
Fact sheet summarizing key facts related to higher education: http://right2edu.birzeit.edu/news/article495. Fact sheet with information specific to education in Gaza, including the recent attacks on educational institutions in December 2008 – January 2009: http://right2edu.birzeit.edu/news/article472
News from the Campaign at Birzeit University
Visit from Edinburgh University Student Association (EUSA): EUSA passed a motion to twin with Birzeit University Student Council in 2005. On March 10th and 11th 2009, the EUSA President, Vice-President of Academic Affairs and Vice-President of Societies and Activities visited Birzeit University to meet with R2E student volunteers, representatives of student societies and to discuss ways of re-activating the twinning agreement between the two student governments. The delegation also visited An-Najah National University. To read more about the visit, go to: http://right2edu.birzeit.edu/news/article782 and to read the President of EUSA 2008 – 2009’s account of his visit go to: http://right2edu.birzeit.edu/news/article792
Campaign on Administrative Detention: In March 2009 Addameer, the Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, launched a Campaign to stop Administrative Detention. Administrative Detention is a system of incarceration without charge or trial, where secret evidence from Israeli intelligence is shown to the military judge and used to justify incarceration for a period of up to 6 months on a renewable basis. The grounds raised are not communicated to the detainee or his/ her lawyer. Addameer represents Arafat Daoud, a third year Sociology student at Birzeit, who has been held under Administrative Detention since 2006. For more information on his case and to start a letter-writing campaign in his support, contact email@example.com.
International visitors meet with the R2E: The R2E has continued to make efforts to raise awareness of the obstacles facing Palestinian education caused by the occupation in the form of meetings with various groups – At the beginning of March 2009 the R2E Campaign and Birzeit University academics involved in the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) met with Dr. Terry Brotherstone, President of UCU Scotland, Ms Mary Senior, Assistant Secretary of the Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) and Ms Elizabeth Elkind, a member of the Edinburgh Trade Union Council and the STUC General Council, who were in Palestine as part of a delegation of Scottish representatives on a fact-finding mission to gather information on whether to pass the BDS motion at Scottish trade unions. The report published upon their return is available online http://www.stuc.org.uk/files/Palestine/Delegation%20Report%202009.pdf. One of the most tangible results of the visit was that in April, the Scottish Trade Union Congress voted overwhelmingly to commit to boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.
In the last two months the Campaign also met with a number of delegations, including one sent by the Dutch Ministry of Education and another led by Robert Serry, the Secretary General Representative and UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process.
R2E student activities: The fortnightly Toastmaster’s club, facilitated by Aisha Mansour gives students the opportunity to practice their public speaking in English, a necessary skill for those who speak about the human rights situation in Palestine and education under occupation to international visitors. Also in April, Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh, a Professor in Genetics and an experienced human rights activist who has participated in speaking tours across thousands of U.S. universities, gave a lecture to R2E volunteers on ways in which presentations on the human rights situation in Palestine can be tailored to suit the specific audience being addressed. Dr. Qumsiyeh discussed various issues including the importance of using select terminology, quoting international law and well-known persons, as well as telling personal stories and believing in the point of the exchange of information at hand.
Denied entry: In April 2009, a British scholar who supports the academic boycott of Israel was refused entry into the West Bank. Dr. Nicola Pratt, who teaches at East Anglia University and specializes in human rights in the Arab world and women’s status in the Middle East, tried to cross over to the West Bank from Jordan to deliver a lecture on human rights at Birzeit University. After being questioned at the Allenby border crossing, she was told that she would not be allowed to enter. Since the beginning of 2006, many thousands of foreign passport holders have been denied.
The Right to Education Campaign: Promoting and Defending the Right to Education of Palestinians in the Occupied Territoriesentry to visit, work or study in the oPt. This policy has brought tremendous insecurity to Birzeit University damaging its financial and academic wellbeing, and has denied foreign and Palestinian academics their right to academic freedom. To read the press release and a letter from Dr. Pratt, go to: http://right2edu.birzeit.edu/news/article806
News from the Campaign at Bethlehem University
Education students receive Right to Education training: In April, two sections of future Palestinian educators at Bethlehem University took part in class discussions and workshops around Right to Education issues. The Bethlehem University Campaign coordinator spent one week working with students in Dr. Sami Adwan’s third-year Faculty of Education classes. As well as learning about the campaign, students also brainstormed ways they could incorporate education issues into local curriculum.
Journalists for Human Rights hosts film screening: JHR held their second successful campus event in March with the film screening of Memory of the Cactus. The documentary – about the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians during the 1967 war – is a powerful story that highlights the human rights violations. It was produced and directed by Mr. Hanna Musleh, a Bethlehem University lecturer in cinema, history and anthropology. The documentary also recently won the first prize in the Arabic Documentary category at the 5th Annual Dubai International Film Festival. Read more about it here: http://www.bethlehem.edu/archives/2009/2009_012.shtml
Bethlehem University launches Gaza Student Initiative: Bethlehem University is once more and with renewed commitment engaged in a “Gaza Student Initiative” that is designed to provide students from Gaza their right to education in Palestine and the opportunity to come to Bethlehem University to earn their degree. To achieve this goal, Bethlehem University is seeking the necessary “travel permissions” from the Israeli authorities for the students from Gaza to come to the West Bank to enroll in Bethlehem University. Bethlehem University is also seeking funding to assist in covering the costs associated with this initiative (e.g., cost of education, transportation, housing accommodations, food, textbooks, counseling and coordination, etc). Read more about it here: http://www.bethlehem.edu/archives/2009/2009_023.shtml
Students take part in day of training at International Middle East Media Center: In March, members of the Bethlehem University Media Team took part in a one-day Sunday training at the IMEMC in Beit Sahour. The students participated in various workshops including sessions on local advocacy, human rights, video skills and Palestinian history. The students will use this information in order to help them deliver key messages around Right to Education issues – and other human rights issues related to the illegal Israeli occupation – to local and international audiences. Set My People Free! Prison Bars Don’t Hold Back Education: A Bethlehem University student returns: Samer Khalil is back at Bethlehem University after six years in Israeli prisons. He will graduate this year, almost ten years
since he first began his university education. Read his story here: http://right2edu.birzeit.edu/news/article791
News from the Campaign at An-Najah National University
The Campaign at An-Najah now has its human rights database up and running, and the first case studies are being uploaded by the newly appointed human rights documentation officer, Hadeel S. Al-Haddadeh. The R2E An-Najah steering committee is also now in place and has begun its role of advising the Campaign. Members of the steering committee are Dr. S Musmar, Assistant Dean of Medicine, Dr. Akram Dawoud, Dean of Law, Dr. Kherieh Rassass, Dean of Optometry and Head of International Relations, Mr. Aymin Zimmer, Head of Media Unit, Voice of An-Najah, Dr. Abu Zant, Dean of Sociology and Ms Yasmine Sharour, Head of PR at An-Najah.
Student Ambassadors: The student ambassadors will take their final exams in the first week of May and there will be a small graduation ceremony to celebrate the first round of Ambassadors from An-Najah. The An-Najah Ambassador team will travel to the offices of Badil in Bethlehem for a training session on the right to return. The students who took part in the Goldsmiths’ occupation of Deptford Town Hall in protest over Israel’s attacks on Gaza visited An Najah’s Right to Education Campaign and were given a tour of the university campus.
Education violations in the Nablus district:
Israeli forces seize Palestinian students: On Tuesday the 14th of April, Israeli forces seized eight young Palestinians, including six who are studying for their college entrance exams, during a raid on the West Bank village of Madama, south of Nablus. According to a member of the local Municipal Council, Hassan Ziyadah, more than a dozen Israeli military vehicles invaded the village aronud midnight. Israeli soldiers violently searched a number of houses before withdrawing with the eight detainees in their custody. Ziyadah identified the detainees as: Mohammad Ziyadah, 21, Ahmad Ziyadah, 18, Qassem Nassar, 22, Taher Al-Qit, 18, Mujahid Al-Qit, 22, Ahmad Al-Qit, 16, and Waheed Ziyadah, 17, and Asad Al-Qit, 17. Israeli forces also closed the northern road into to the village on Monday for several hours. All young men are still detained. Ma’an
Settler attack near school premises: Masked Israeli settlers shot and injured six Palestinians standing near a school in the village of Urif south of Nablus on Friday the 24th of April. The Israeli army imposed a curfew on Urif village following the incident. The Head of the Village Council, Fawzi Shehada, said that Israeli soldiers were also firing at the Palestinians. Shehada said the shooting was intentional and meant to cause injury. He explained that the intensity of the fire prevented him from leaving a residence near the school where he was visiting family members; “I couldn’t even go and see how many wounded there were,” he said. Ghassan Daghlas the Palestinian official responsible for settlement violations in the northern West Bank, added; “The settlers, from Yitzhar, opened fire at locals from 20 meters away… This is a clear and dangerous violation of the rights of the Palestinian residents on their own lands.” Palestinian medical sources said five of the six were moved to Rafediya governmental hospital who described their condition as moderate. The injured were identified as: Sadam Abed Al-Karim, Maher Ghassan, Nour Mustafa Safadi, Mahmoud Abed Ar-Raheem Safadi, I’sam Najeh Safadi, Ibrahim Radi Sabah.
The R2E Campaign branch in Italy has been continuing to take the R2E photo exhibition all around the country in an effort to raise awareness of obstacles to Palestinian education caused by the Israeli occupation. Currently the exhibition is being held at a local peace association in Schio (Vicenza), after which it will go on to Rome University la Sapienza. For further information see the website: www.birzeit-it.tk On the 22 nd of March 2009, a regional meeting was held in Bologna Italy, by the Bologna Palestine Committee (www.comitatopalestinabologna.blogspot.com), to coordinate student initiatives in support of Palestine. The R2E Campaign was presented at this meeting by Alessandro Salvatori, an Italian from Modena who has been active on Palestine issues since 2002.
The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education Graduate Students’ Association affiliated to the R2E Campaign in February 2009 and passed a motion to twin with Birzeit University Student Council in March 2009. They held their first event on the right to education and academic freedom on March 30, to coincide with Land day and the Global Day of Action for BDS. Speakers included representatives from OISE, the R2E Campaign Canada Coalition, University of Toronto, Students Against Israeli Apartheid, and Faculty for Palestine. They also launched a letterwriting campaign at this event for Arafat Daoud, a third year Birzeit University Sociology student who has been in Administrative Detention for approximately three years. To read the text of the motion passed please go to: http://right2edu.birzeit.edu/news/article789
Teachers 4 Palestine and Students Against Israeli Apartheid at the University of Toronto, both Canadian affiliates of the R2E Campaign also held an event at the end of March, entitled “Letter writing night for Palestinian student political prisoners”. The event marked the launch of a letter-writing campaign for Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli jails. Letters were written to the EU, the IBA and attendees’ government representatives, on behalf of a number of prisoners, including Birzeit University student Arafat Daoud.
The Canadian affiliates of the R2E Campaign held their first coalition meeting in Toronto on April 18. It was attended by 10 unions, all of which have resolved to work on Palestinian students’ right to education. At the meeting, various issues were discussed, after which Beesan Ramadan, a student ambassador for the Campaign at An-Najah National University, gave a presentation on education under occupation via video conference. The coalition has formed a number of committee, including an Arts Committee, a Speaking Events Committee, a Material Production Committee, an Outreach Committee and a Delegation and Day of Action Committee. The next coalition meeting will take place on June 25
1. News and Updates
Teachers’ meeting raided by Israeli troops in Jerusalem, papers and computers taken by court order Maisa Abu Ghazaelh, Palestine News Network, 24 April 2009
This week in Jerusalem Israeli forces raided a hall that was hosting a meeting for the reading of educational draft
Hebron University and the effects of the Occupation and Conflict PR Department, Hebron University, 23 April 2009
Fact sheet on Hebron University and the ways in which it has been affected by the Israeli occupation, including arrests, assassinations, closures, confiscation of property, restrictions on foreign passport holders, and the massacre on campus carried out by Israeli settlers in 1983. http://right2edu.birzeit.edu/news/article801
Israeli soldiers detain busloads of schoolchildren for three hours Hebron, Ma’an, 23 April 2009
Israeli soldiers attacked the teachers and children returning from a school trip in the West Bank town of Beit Ummar
on Thursday afternoon. http://right2edu.birzeit.edu/news/article805
Israeli troops raid Tulkarem, question university students Tulkarem, Ma’an, 23 April 2009Israeli troops raided the western and southern areas of Tulkarem and stormed Khaduri University student resident buildings overnight.
MK sends education minister letter slamming new curriculum focused on Jewish heritage
Sharon Roffe-Ofir, Y-net, 21 April 2009
Upon taking office, the new Israeli Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar declared that he will reinstate Jewish heritage studies into the curriculum. Knesset Member Afu Aghbaria has written a letter in protest of this decision, which clearly discriminates young Palestinian citizens of Israel, as it celebrates Zionism.
Israeli forces detain Palestinian student from Al Khadr near Bethlehem
Bethlehem, Ma’an, 21 April 2009
Israeli forces stormed Al-Khadr raided a home and arrested a university student after ransacking his property. Ashraf studies architecture at the Palestine Polytechnic University in Hebron.
The Israeli military kidnaps four civilians and attack kindergarten near Hebron Ghassan Bannoura, IMEMC, 16 April 2009
The Israeli military kidnapped four Palestinian teenagers and attacked a kindergarten during invasions targeting villages near the southern West Bank city of Hebron on Thursday. http://right2edu.birzeit.edu/news/article798
Israeli forces seize eight Palestinian youths in raid south of Nablus
Nablus, Ma’an, 14 April 2009
Israeli forces seized eight young Palestinians, including six who are studying for their college entrance exams, during a raid on the West Bank village of Madama, south of Nablus on Tuesday morning
War-shocked Gaza children ‘want to die’
Anne Barker, Middle East Correspondent, ABC News, Australia, 13 April 2009 Little has changed in Gaza since the war in January, with thousands of families still living in tents and homes and schools still just rubble and ruins. But life for many children has never been the same since Israel launched its offensive three months ago.
Israel’s Arab Students cross to Jordan
Jonathan Cook, Electronic Intifada, 9 April 2009
Obstacles to Israel’s Arab minority (Palestinian citizens of Israel) participating in higher education have resulted in a record number of Arab students taking up places at universities in neighboring Jordan, a new report reveals. http://right2edu.birzeit.edu/news/article794
Palestinian students allege abuse, beatings at Abu Dis Checkpoint
Saed Bannoura, IMEMC, 31 March 2009
Two Palestinian students from Ramallah have come forward with allegations that Israeli Border police took them to a room, stripped them naked and beat them with fists and sticks at a checkpoint on Saturday. The students were on their way to the University of Abu Dis, where they are students.
Tough times for University students in Gaza
Gaza City, Irin News, 26 March 2009
Many university students who lost relatives or whose homes were destroyed during the recent 23-day Israeli offensive are finding it difficult to cope, according to university officials and students. Al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights in Gaza said 14 of the 15 higher education institutions in the Strip were damaged by Israeli forces. 6 came under direct attack.
Israeli Army refuses to escort Palestinian school children past settlers
Press Release, CPT, At-Tuwani, 23 March 2009
Israeli soldiers in charge of escorting schoolchildren from At Tuwani to their homes in the villages of Tuba and Maghayir al Abeed refused to escort the children past two adult settlers present in the area on 23 March 2009. http://right2edu.birzeit.edu/news/article784
Court temporarily halts demolition of East Jerusalem School
Jerusalem, Ma’an, 14 March 2009
The Israeli-controlled Jerusalem municipality issued a demolition order for Al-Huda school in East Jerusalem on the grounds that a wing had been added to the building 15 years ago without proper permits. On Friday a Jerusalem court issued an injunction to temporarily halt the demolition in response to a petition filed by a Palestinian lawyer.
http://right2edu.birzeit.edu/news/article783 BRICUP Newsletter, March 2009
Newsletter, BRICUP, 10 March 2009
Read the British Committee for Universities of Palestine newsletter for March 2009 here.
Palestinian students push BDS in universities and cities
Latest News, Palestinian grassroots anti-apartheid wall campaign, 8 March 2009
Israeli Apartheid Week events for the past several days in the West Bank focused on strengthening the internal BDS movement and promoting Palestinian products, both at Palestinian universities and in local shops and communities.
2. International Activism News
Columbia Faculty convene historic meeting on Academic Freedom in Palestine
Press Release, Columbia University, 23 April 2009
The Faculty of Arts and Sciences is meeting on April 23rd to discuss academic freedom in Palestine. In recent years, Columbia University has acted in numerous ways to support and defend academic institutions in Israel, but there has been a conspicuous silence regarding Palestine. At this historic meeting, convened on faculty initiative, the case will be made for action by the university on behalf of academic freedom and rights to education in Palestine.
Students for Palestine put their mark on Australian campuses
Sonja Karakar, Australia, The Palestine Telegraph, 4 April 2009
University campuses across Australia have seen a new and vibrant student movement for Palestine taking shape in the wake of Israel’s destruction of Gaza at the beginning of the year.
Statement of Academics in Lebanon
Statement, Lebanese Academics, 30 March 2009
A call from Lebanese academics for academic boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.
Press release from USACBI in solidarity with international global day of action for Palestine
Press Release, USACBI, 30 March 2009
In solidarity with the International Global Day of Action for Palestine, the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel announce the endorsement of over 300 US academics and cultural workers, and the affiliation of
over 20 organizations.
Australian academics call for boycott of Israel
Statement, Various Undersigned, 26 March 2009
A call from Australian academics for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel.
PEF, David Mandelzys, 9 March 2009
While families in Gaza continue to mourn and rebuild from the latest massacre perpetrated by the Israeli state, students and community groups around the world are uniting to educate and act in the 5th Annual Israeli Apartheid week. March 1st Â– 8th, 2009 is marking the annual event in more than 40 cities around the world, including: Palestine, South Africa, the United States, Norway, Venezuela, England and Canada where the week was first held 5 years ago.
Carmel blockaded in Jayyous solidarity action by Brighton students
Website, Palestinian grassroots anti-apartheid wall campaign, 8 March 2009
A group of students from Brighton locked themselves to Carmel Agrexco, the Israeli state owned export company, to protest against the ongoing annexation of the West Bank as well as the repression of students in Jayyous.
Columbia demands justice for Palestine
David Judd, Socialist Worker, 3 March 2009
Students at Columbia University have begun organising around a set of demands including the university’s divestment from Israel, a partnership with a Palestinian university, scholarships for Palestinian students and statements of support for Palestinian academic freedom and self-determination. http://right2edu.birzeit.edu/news/article772 UK students win divestment victory, stand with Jayyous. Worldwide activism, Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, 3 March 2009
In another victory for the UK student occupations, Cardiff University has been forced to divest from the arms trade. Also, Sussex University has organized a week of action in solidarity with the arrested students from Jayyous.
3. How You Can Support the Right to Education Campaign
1. Affiliate to the Right to Education Campaign through your union or organization.
2. Raise awareness within your constituency about the issues facing Palestinian education, students and teachers under Israeli military occupation.
· Screen the Campaign film, “A Caged Bird’s Song” (copies available online www.PalestineOnlineStore.com).
· Organise the “Students Under Occupation Take a Stand” photo exhibition and give a presentation on the Right to Education in Palestine
· Organise an action on campus. For example, set up a ‘checkpoint’, stopping students and faculty on their way to classes, demanding to see their student and staff IDs and raising awareness about the issues facing Palestinian students under occupation.
· If you are a student group, set up a correspondence with university students, through email, instant messenger and video conferences.
3. Support the Right to Education Campaign’s calls for international action against violations of the human right to education in occupied Palestine.
4. Lobby your government to pressure the government of Israel to adhere to its legal obligations to end attacks on civilian infrastructure and to allow unimpeded access for all Palestinians to their educational institutions.
5. Establish connections with Palestinian universities, students and faculty, through solidarity links, twinnings or academic exchange.
6. Start or join divestment campaigns at your university.
7. Organize a delegation to visit universities in Palestine, or help to organize a delegation of Palestinian students and faculty to come on a speaking tour to universities and organizations in your country.
8. Support students affected by the economic blockade, through the “Break the Siege Campaign”: http://right2edu.birzeit.edu/news/article469
The Right to Education Campaign started in Birzeit University as a response to the closure and criminalization of higher education during the first intifada. In 2007, it started at An-Najah National University and in 2008, in Bethlehem University. The Campaign is situated in the Public Relations Department of all three host universities. The Campaign’s main goal is to guarantee article 13 (2)(c) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,1966; “Higher education shall be made equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity, by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education” And to defend the human rights of students and staff as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948. In pursuit of this goal, the Campaign collects information about violations to students and staff that result in an interruption to education; raises awareness of these violations amongst international audiences; lobbies UN and EU mechanisms; provides legal support to imprisoned students; raises awareness of rights amongst the student population; and builds the capacity of students to take on campaigning activities.
The Right to Education Bulletin is a digest of news and campaign information on right to education issues affecting Palestinian students, teachers and academics in the oPt and Israel, released bi-monthly. To subscribe or unsubscribe from this bulletin please email firstname.lastname@example.org with SUBSCRIBE or UNSUBSCRIBE in the subject heading.