The US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) condemns in the strongest terms Israel’s latest breaches of academic freedom in Palestine and stands in solidarity with the Palestinian students and faculty affected by them the most.
While an immense effort is being made by supporters of Israel to promote the ostensible opening of its borders and academic institutions to international Study Abroad programs, Israel continues to exercise pernicious denial-of-entry policies at the borders of the Palestinian territory under its control.
Birzeit University (BZU) and all other Palestinian universities, schools and educational organizations continue to experience the effects of Israel’s denial-of-entry permits to persons who intend to study, teach or lecture at Palestinian institutions and who hold international passports, especially when they are of Palestinian background or publicly critical of Israel.
We stand in solidarity with The Palestinian Campaign for the Right to Enter the Occupied Palestinian Territory (RTE), established by volunteers in Ramallah in the wake of Israel’s intensification of this unconscionable policy of entry denial in the West Bank in retaliation to the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) elections win of Hamas in 2006. The mission of this campaign is “to defend the rights of access, movement and residency in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory”.
Nada Elia, member of the Organizing Collective of (USACBI), has made a parallel between Israel’s denial of house permits and its denial of entry permits. She points out how Israel’s egregious policy of denying entry permits to the occupied West Bank affects academic institutions as well as the lives of those denied renewal of their entry permits, making them “effectively under house arrest within a very restricted area around campus, to avoid any of the hundreds of checkpoints in the West Bank, where they can be arrested and deported for working without a permit.”
Those most severely affected by such policies are Palestinians who only possess Palestinian IDs. Some international faculty who have taught at BZU, for example, have long been able to travel in and out without a problem until this recent crisis, a privilege that many who hold only a Palestinian ID do not have.
Palestinians with Arab or non-Western international passports – for instance carriers of Jordanian passports – often find it impossible to obtain an entry permit to the West Bank to visit, let alone to study or teach there. Israel’s policies of entry denial and restriction of movement plague the lives, not only of academics, but also of many Palestinians who hold international passports and who wish to reside close to relatives in Palestine or contribute to its development.
Additionally, according to the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR, “There are more than four million Palestinians who are stateless: some hold temporary Jordanian passports; some hold Palestinian Authority (PA) passports; and some hold Refugee Travel Documents (RTD) from other Middle Eastern countries (Refugee Studies Centre Aug. 2006b).” These people experience travel problems everywhere.
The denial of freedom of movement to Palestinian academics at large (faculty, students and administrators) is ongoing as are other issues that interfere with the right to education, such as the routine kidnapping and detention of Palestinian student leaders by the Israeli occupation authorities.
USACBI therefore urges all US academics to join its campaign and take the pledge: ‘We Will not Study in Israel Until Palestinians Can Return: Boycott Study Abroad in Israel!’