The Right to Education Campaign and the students of Birzeit University would like to commend and express support for students worldwide who have taken a principled stance against the ferocious Israeli bombardment of the Gaza strip for 22 days between December 2008 and January 2009. More than 1,300 Palestinians were killed, including 400 children, and over 4,000 Palestinians were injured. As students, we have been particularly concerned with the attacks on educational institutions, which include the Islamic University of Gaza and more than 70 schools, including a number of UNRWA schools, which were destroyed or damaged throughout the Gaza Strip. As a result of the destruction of educational institutions, students have been forced to study at other schools which are operating in two or three shifts due to the reduced amount of classroom space. In some cases, class sizes have been raised to 120 students per class.
In response to the Israeli attacks on Gaza, students at more than 20 universities in the UK and so far 1 university in the U.S, have taken non-violent action in the form of sit-ins or ‘occupations’ of rooms in university buildings, with the aim of pressuring their universities to take action by cutting financial and commercial links with Israel, issuing statements in condemnation of the Israeli attacks on Gaza, and providing scholarships for Gaza students.
As students, you are best able to understand the struggle that we as Palestinian students living under occupation go through daily in our basic pursuit of education. Through the stance you have taken against the attacks on Gaza, you have showed us that we are not alone in our struggle for freedom and justice. You have broken the sense of isolation we feel when governments have remained silent as we are harassed and delayed at a checkpoint on the way to university, arrested for exercising our right to freedom of expression or mourn fellow students who were taken from us by the bullets of the Occupation.
We greatly appreciate your efforts and request that students worldwide take action in this way or in whichever way they can, to put pressure on their universities to take a stand for the universal values of education and to push towards the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel until it stops depriving us of our rights. Such non-violent campaigns on campus are the only way forward and they say to us and to the world that Israel’s policies of apartheid are not welcome in the world we want to live – a world which we, as students, will inherit, and also have the power to shape.
Birzeit University students would like to express particular solidarity with students of SOAS, who began this movement, Edinburgh University, and Leeds University, all of whom are twinned with our Student Council. We deeply appreciate your ongoing efforts in refusing to be silent in face of the ongoing barbarities and crimes carried out by the Israeli occupation against Palestinian students and teachers.
Birzeit University Right to Education Student Volunteers