Palestinian Testimonies

- Videos, Articles, Narratives

This page contains video and narrative testimonies from Palestinian students and faculty describing what it is like for them to live, study and teach in Israel and under Israeli occupation. In addition, the page contains relevant videos and news articles concerning the Israeli mistreatment of Palestinian students and Israel’s destructive actions against Palestinian educational institutions. Together, these materials document the fact that Palestinians living in Israel and under Israeli occupation are not allowed an equal education, insofar as discrimination against Palestinians is built in to the Israeli system and is part and parcel of Israeli policy at multiple levels. There is simply no academic freedom for Palestinians subject to Israeli control, including those who attend or teach at The Technion.

NYACT welcomes additional testimonies. To submit yours, please e-mail nyact@riseup.net.

CONTENTS:

  • VIDEO – Palestinian Students Call to Divest for Justice – Palestine Al Ahlia, Birzeit, and Bethlehem Universities (12 July 2013)
  • REPORTS by the Campaign for the Right to Enter the oPt (RTE) on Israeli restrictions on foreign national academics in Palestinian higher education institutions (May 2013) and by The Arab Culture Association on Israeli discrimination against Palestinian Arab students in Israeli universities (November 2012)
  • ARTICLE about the suffering of Palestinian students in the oPts (31 January 2013)
  • VIDEO of IDF attack on Al-Quds Educational TV and the Modern Media Institute (3 April 2002)
  • PAPER by Al-Quds University President Dr. Sari Nusseibeh (8-10 November 2012)
  • VIDEO – PALESTINIAN RIGHTS TO EDUCATION – Birzeit University students (16 February 2009)
  • NARRATIVE by Al-Quds University Professor Dr. Rima Najjar Merriman (11 November 2012)
  • ARTICLE about passport and work permit restrictions in the OPTs (2 December 2012)
  • VIDEO COLLECTION [in Arabic] – IMPACT ON EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT FOR STUDENTS – Al-Quds University, Birzeit University (13 November 2012)
  • NARRATIVE by Al-Quds University Professor Dr. Uri Davis (11 November 2012)
  • VIDEO – LIFE FROM A PALESTINIAN POINT OF VIEW – BETHLEHEM UNIVERSITY STUDENTS (19 November 2010)
  • ARTICLE about P.A. security services raid on An-Najah University female students hostel (20 October 2012)
  • VIDEO – Palestinian students claim racial discrimination (24 April 2012)
  • ARTICLE about cancellation of SAT tests for West Bank students (16 October 2012)
  • VIDEO of Ramzy Baroud speaking on Palestinian academic freedom (15 November 2010)
  • ARTICLE about cancellation of U.S. scholarship program for Gazan students (15 October 2012)
  • VIDEO about Israeli deportation of Palestinian student from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip (1 November 2009)
  • ARTICLE about repression of Palestinian student protests at Israeli universities (28 November 2012)
  • VIDEO about Bedouin school slated for demolition (14 December 2011)
  • ARTICLE: AMERICAN TEACHER AT BIRZEIT DENIED ACADEMIC FREEDOM (5 May 2009)
  • VIDEOGaza student denied permit to study in West Bank (26 March 2007)
  • ARTICLE about exclusion of Palestinian students from Israeli universities (11 October 2007)
  • VIDEO: STUDENTS IN THE OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY – school overcrowding and demolition (7 October 2010)
  • ARTICLE by Birzeit University Right to Education Campaign calling for Cornell University to respect human rights and withdraw from its partnership with The Technion (14 December 2012)
  • VIDEO – PALESTINIAN SCHOOL STUDENTS – Hebron (2010)

PALESTINIAN STUDENTS CALL TO DIVEST FOR JUSTICE (Joshua Tartakovsky, Mahmoud Elddin, Moath al Lahham, 12 July 2013)

ACADEMIA UNDERMINED: Israeli Restrictions on Foreign National Academics in Palestinian Higher Education Institutions (May 2013)

The quality of Palestinian education and higher education in particular, has been very negatively impacted by the prolonged Israeli military occupation. Schools and universities have been closed for extended periods. Students, staff and faculty have had restricted access to schools and institutions of higher education due to the pervasive and arbitrary Israeli regime of internal movement restrictions. The impacts on all levels of education have been well documented.

This report focuses on only one of the many problems related to movement and access restrictions that affect the quality of and access to education in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt): the implications of Israeli restrictions on entry and residency for foreign academics wishing to serve at institutes of higher education operating in the (oPt). It is important to note that the term “foreign” is something of a misnomer: Israel treats all individuals without an Israeli-issued identity card [“hawiyya”] as a foreigner even if they are of Palestinian origin and even if they and/or their parents are born in Palestine. Thus “foreign” academics refers to anyone who does not hold a Palestinian identity card and must therefore enter the oPt on a foreign passport regardless of whether or not they are of Palestinian origin. “Foreign” academics or “foreign” nationals could therefore be of Palestinian origin (as is frequently the case) or have no Palestinian roots.

Read and print full report in pdf.

ANNUAL SUMMARY REPORT 2011-2012 – The Youth Empowerment Project and The Academic Watch (November 2012)

This report is the first in a series to be released throughout the 2012-2013 academic year on the discriminatory practices and policies in Israeli post-secondary institutions. [The second report follows below.] This report summarizes instances of racist and discriminatory actions within Israeli academia evidencing the nondiscretionary infringement upon the rights of Arab Palestinian students. All of the cases mentioned in this report have been publicized in various media outlets and exposed by active student movements. The intent of this report is to gather and deliver this information in a concise and cohesive manner thereby encouraging more students to monitor, document and expose future violations through the Academic Watch.

This report shows that the 2011-2012 academic year saw more aggressive oppression of freedom of expression and of the organization of cultural and political activities by Arab students.

Read and print full report in pdf.

OPPRESSION IN THE SHADOW OF WAR – On the support of Israeli academic institutions and students unions for the assault on Gaza during November 2012, and the suppression of anti-war demonstrations by Palestinian students (November 2012)

Israel promotes that their institutions are based on academic values however this does not truly correlate with the demonstrated militarization of the institutions, nor the educational content that is devoted to promoting the Zionist ideology. The reality is that these academic institutions more resemble research and development centres serving respective policy fields of the state. Even worse is they boast their close ties with the Israeli military institution and compete with each other in how closely bound they are. This support is highlighted particularly during the periods of increased Israeli assaults on Gaza and other Palestinian or Arab areas, regarding peaceful Palestinian demonstrations which do not exceed the conditions of the academic institutional regulations. From these examples, it is clear that the rights and freedoms that these institutions claim to uphold are targeted to a specific group of students – particularly those who support the Zionist agenda.

This report serves to shed light on this issue using examples from existing university policy and the actions of the police against Palestinian student demonstrations protesting the most recent attack on Gaza during November 2012, also known as Operation “Pillar of Defense.”

As Israeli academic institutions have shown their boundless support for the attack and their support for the Israeli military, the suppression of Palestinian students has reached new heights. This report will expose the most flagrant incidents that occurred during Operation “Pillar of Defense” in universities and colleges with a specific focus on Haifa University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Read and print full report in pdf.

STUDENTS SUFFER AS ISRAEL DENIES PALESTINIANS FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT AND EDUCATION IN THE OCCUPIED TERRITORIES (31 January 2013)

How long does it typically take university students to get to their morning lectures where you live? It might just be a matter of whether they decide to walk, cycle or take the bus. Unfortunately, according to this article in Mondoweiss, this isn’t the case for Palestinian students in the West Bank who continue to face incredible difficulties in accessing education because of the movement restrictions of the Israeli occupation.

IDF Attack on Al-Quds Educational TV and Modern Media Institute – East Jerusalem (Al-Quds Educational TV, 3 April 2002)

EDUCATION: CAPABILITIES AND CONSTRAINTSPaper given by Al-Quds University President Sari Nusseibeh at the Second World Conference on the Right to, and the Right in Education – Brussels, Belgium (8-10 November 2012)

Pdf version for printing – Sari Nusseibeh
In this paper, Dr. Nusseibeh gives two examples that illustrate the constraints and obstructions that Israel imposes on Palestinian education in order to preserve its domination. He also points out that Israel both justifies and entrenches these obstructions through its legal system – example, a ruling taken by Israel’s Supreme Court in 2008 barring students from Gaza studying at Bethlehem University in the West Bank from reaching it, citing concerns “reminiscent of Arthur Koestler’s Darkness At Noon.” The paper also refers to an article published recently in the Harvard Gazette written by two Harvard undergraduates, both Palestinian, which describes how, due to Israeli obstructionist measures, students graduating from high school wishing to take the American university entrance qualifying exams this fall in Ramallah were prevented from doing so, thereby losing their chance at pursuing their university education at places like Harvard. Dr. Nusseibeh in turn mentions Israel’s refusal to consider Al-Quds University (which is the only Palestinian university that has a presence in East Jerusalem) a legitimate Palestinian educational institution and does not recognize it as it does all other Palestinian universities.

PALESTINIAN RIGHTS TO EDUCATION – Birzeit University students (Iman Habibi Babadi, 16 February 2009)

CATCH-22 ISRAELI STYLE – Narrative by Prof. Rima Najjar Merriman, English Department, Al-Quds University – East Jerusalem (11 November 2012)

Taken on an overcast day from the window of my classroom in the Sciences Building at Al Quds University, 2011
Taken on an overcast day from the window of my classroom in the Sciences Building at Al Quds University, 2011 – The Wall is not built on, or in most cases, near the 1967 Green Line, but rather cuts deep into the West Bank, expanding Israel’s theft of Palestinian land and resources. In total, 85% of the Wall is located in the West Bank. The university has had to fight for every inch you see in this photo and still lost a lot on the other side.

I don’t know how many people in the US know this, but Israel controls all borders in what is called the Palestinian territories (the Gaza Strip and the West Bank) as well as the Palestinian population registry. If, as a US citizen like me, you wish to teach at a Palestinian university, you will be taken aback to learn that the Israelis do not provide a mechanism for entry into the Palestinian territories on a work permit. What you have to do is enter on a tourist visa at the risk of being denied entry if you state your reason for crossing the border. After entering on a tourist permit, the only procedure open to you to extend your entry permit is to apply, through the Palestinian Authority, to an Israeli military post in Ramallah by submitting your teaching contract. You then get a single-entry extension stamped with “not permitted to work”, thus giving ammunition to Israeli officers at the border to deny you re-entry on the basis that you intend to enter in order to work illegally at a Palestinian university! I am not making this up; I have been denied entry twice on this pretext and had to hire lawyers to re-enter.

Additionally, my entry stamp at the border nowadays invariably says “PA areas only.” I teach at Al Quds University, which is the only Palestinian university that has a presence in East Jerusalem and, as a result, is not recognized (accredited) by Israel with various deleterious consequences for the education and employment of Palestinians. That stamp means I am unable to travel to Jerusalem from the Abu Dis campus (situated just outside the illegal wall – in fact, there is only a street separating the campus there from the apartheid wall) to the college in Jerusalem, where there is a shortage of teachers in my specialty (American literature).

This article in the Electronic Intifada documents Prof. Merriman’s struggle with Israeli passport and work permit restrictions in the OPTs.

See also this pertinent letter Prof. Merriman posted to Richard Lightbown thanking him for his Dec. 10, 2012 article in The Palestine Chronicle in which he criticizes Native American musician Joy Harjo for performing at Tel Aviv University, where she is beginning a one-year writer-in-residency. Prof. Merriman points out that “Al Quds University [is] the only Palestinian university that has a presence in Jerusalem and that is unrecognized by Israel, making it difficult for Palestinian students who live in annexed east Jerusalem or Israeli Palestinian students who may choose to attend AQU to find jobs.”

IMPACT ON EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT FOR STUDENTS [in Arabic] (Al-Quds Educational TV, 13 November 2012)

math student at Birzeit University

computer science student at Birzeit University

history and political science student at Birzeit University

engineering and mechanics student at Birzeit University

media studies student at Birzeit University

English literature student with minor in translation at Birzeit University

journalism and media studies student at Birzeit University

media studies student at Birzeit University

media studies student at Al-Quds University

computer science student at Al-Quds University

dentisty student at Al-Quds University

business administration and marketing student at Al-Quds University

physical education student at Al-Quds University

English literature student at Al-Quds University

law student at Al-Quds University

Narrative by Prof. Uri Davis, Institute of Area Studies, Al-Quds University – East Jerusalem, Palestine (11 November 2012)

Uri Davis
Credit: Maanimages.com

My name is Professor Uri Davis. I teach critical Israel Studies at AL-QUDS University, Jerusalem/Abu Dis, which is under Palestinian Authority Area “A” jurisdiction and situated behind the apartheid wall surrounding post-1967 Israeli occupied “unified” Jerusalem.

Israeli occupation Qalandiya check-post marks the interface between the municipal boundaries of post-1967 Israeli occupied “unified” Jerusalem and West Bank Palestinian Authority jurisdiction. Five confluent traffic routes merge at the Qalandiya check-point manufacturing massive traffic congestion at all five routes and successive knots of traffic jams at the point of merger.

The Samiramis and Kafr ‘Aqab neighbourhoods are “unified” Jerusalem” enclaves well inside the area otherwise under Palestinian Authority Jurisdiction. On such occasions as I need to travel from, e.g., Samiramis to my university I need to factor into my travel itinerary the probability of hours-long delays at Qalandiya.

To my mind the purpose of the Qalandiya check-post is as far removed as possible from the decades-long Israeli occupation “security” considerations. Rather, in my experience the primary object of the said check-post is confiscation of Palestinian time over the years and humiliation of the mass of Palestinian people who are not able to circumnavigate around the said check-post by private transport and are, hence, compelled to pass through the check-point to have their papers and belongings examined.

Confiscated Palestinian land, ethnically-cleansed, settler-colonized and occupied by apartheid Israel, can and will be recovered and liberated from political-Zionist racism. But confiscated Palestinian time, including my time as a teacher and the time of my students, is lost year over year, generation over generations, and, alas, cannot be recovered.

As we are all aware time is life.

LIFE FROM A PALESTINIAN POINT OF VIEW – BETHLEHEM UNIVERSITY STUDENTS (Pilgrim Center of Hope, 19 November 2010)

(GESTAPO STYLE) P.A. SECURITY SERVICES RAID FEMALE STUDENTS HOSTEL (16 October 2012)

This article in Occupied Palestine reports on the raid by Palestinian Authority security services on a female students hostel for An-Najah University in Nablus, West Bank, where residents were subject to unwarranted interrogation.

Palestinian students claim racial discrimination (Press TV, 24 April 2012)

ISRAEL VS. NO. 2 PENCILS (16 October 2012)

This article in The Harvard Crimson reports on the cancellation by Israeli authorities of the October 2012 SAT tests for Palestinian students in the West Bank.

Ramzy Baroud on Palestinian Academic Freedom – from THE GAZA STORY: CHALLENGING HISTORY THROUGH NARRATIVE – Olympia, WA (15 November 2010)

U.S. DROPS GAZA SCHOLARSHIPS AFTER ISRAEL TRAVEL BAN (15 October 2012)

Under Israeli pressure, U.S. officials cancelled a two-year-old scholarship program for students in the Gaza Strip, undercutting one of the few American outreach programs to people in the Hamas-ruled territory. According to this article in the Associated Press, the program now faces an uncertain future, just two years after being launched with great fanfare by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton during a visit to the region.

Israel deported a Palestinian student from West Bank to Gaza Strip (Press TV, 1 November 2009)

ISRAEL’S REPRESSION OF PALESTINIAN STUDENTS REACHED NEW LEVEL DURING GAZA ATTACK (28 November 2012)

This article in the Electronic Intifada reports on the heightened repression of Palestinian students at Tel Aviv University, Hebrew University, and the University of Haifa during Israel’s November 2012 military offensive against Gaza.

Aid to Bedouin school slated for demolition (UNICEF Television, 14 December 2011)

AMERICAN TEACHER AT BIRZEIT DENIED ACADEMIC FREEDOM (Right to Education Campaign, Birzeit University, 5 May 2009)

This article from the Birzeit University Right to Education Campaign reports on the deportation and electronic surveillance of an American graduate student teaching at Birzeit, who was forced to return to the U.S. on account of Israel-controlled visa restrictions on foreign nationals working in the oPts.

STORY OF STUDENT FROM GAZA (Right to Education Campaign, Birzeit University, 26 March 2007)

PALESTINIAN STUDENTS CONTINUE TO FACE EXCLUSION (11 October 2007)

This article in The Guardian exposes the Israeli army’s continued barring of Palestinian students from Israeli universities, in spite of an order from the Israeli high court that it relax its restrictions.

STUDENTS IN THE OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY (UNICEF Television, 7 October 2010)

For many Palestinian students, returning to school is a happy occasion, but for the 75 students in Khan El Ahmar School in Area C of the West Bank, just getting there is an arduous experience; many have to walk long distances through unsafe regions to reach substandard and overcrowded classrooms […] Due to severe restrictions on building permits, some 10,000 students are compressed into 135 schools. There is inadequate water and sanitation facilities and the learning experiences of children are adversely affected. But like many schools in the Israeli controlled Area C, Khan El Ahmar School is slated to be demolished.

BIRZEIT UNIVERSITY GROUP CALLS UPON CORNELL TO END PARTNERSHIP WITH TECHNION – excerpt (14 December 2012)

view full statement on Mondoweiss
R2E Campaign
Whilst institutions of higher education around the globe strive to foster a tolerant and inclusive space for meticulous, critical and balanced academic enquiry, the Technion’s role in denying the Palestinians of their right to education violates its obligation as a university to follow suit and uphold the same egalitarian values and practices.

The Technion’s institutionalised discrimination against Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel on its own campus further runs contrary to this obligation and reinforces the apartheid nature of Israel.

The Technion commonly curtails the freedom of speech and expression of its Arab-Palestinian students, who are prevented from forming an Arab students union and voicing opposition to the Israeli state’s prejudiced and apartheid policies.

The stifling of political discussion by attacking freedom of speech at the Technion needs to be placed in the broader context of the Israeli state’s brutal campaign to stamp out dissenting voices. At universities in the West Bank, simply belonging to a student organisation, attending a student meeting or distributing flyers are activities that can lead to one’s arrest, interrogation and detention under Israeli military law (Addameer, 2012). Israel’s military courts pay scant regard for the formalities of due process, denying defendants the right to interpretation and translation, the presumption of innocence, and the right to prepare and effective defence (ibid). As a result, at least 90 per cent of children plead guilty (DCI-Palestine, 2012) regardless of whether or not they actually committed an offence and approximately 99.74 per cent of all those who are charged are convicted (Addameer, 2012). During incarceration, it is forbidden for Palestinian political prisoners to pursue their education remotely. Education is conditional on security requirements, limited to approved subjects, and essential materials are priced extortionately (ibid). Israel’s widespread use of torture and mental and physical violence (CAABU, 2012) within its military prisons adds yet another layer of blatant indifference to the international statutes it itself ratified in the Fourth Geneva Convention.

PALESTINIAN SCHOOL STUDENTS – Hebron (Christian Peacemaker Teams, 2010)