Israel has completely shut down a Palestinian university in Jerusalem amid a series of assaults on academic freedom.
Israel is obstructing academic freedom at Palestinian universities through various measures, including closing colleges and denying visas for visiting professors.
On 14 July, Israeli policeÂ raided and shut downÂ the Hind al-Husseini college in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, prohibited anÂ academic conferenceÂ from taking place and detained 15 participants of the conference.
As well as being in charge of policing, Erdan leads Israelâs global effort to thwart activism in support of Palestinian rights.
The president of Arab American University, a private institution based in the West Bank city of Jenin, condemned Israelâs closure of the college. Ali Abu Zuhri argued it was an attempt to impose new facts on the ground aimed at changing the cultural and historical identity of Jerusalem, according to the Palestinian news agency Wafa.
Israelâs closure of Hind al-Husseini college âis one more manifestation of Israelâs relentless assault on Palestinian education and culture, a systematic assault that is tantamount to cultural genocide,âÂ Nada Elia, an organizing committee member of theÂ US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of IsraelÂ (USACBI), told The Electronic Intifada.
âIsrael imposes a Zionist curriculum on Palestinian schools in annexed East Jerusalem and has devised a Kafkaesque system of work permits in the West Bank that prevents faculty who hold foreign passports from teaching there legally, making them prone to arrest and deportation,â Elia explained.
At the same time, she said, Israel claims that the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, ârather than its own assault on Palestinian education, is preventing academic exchange and the free flow of ideas.â
Forced to leave
Birzeit UniversityÂ â headquartered beside the West Bank city of Ramallah â released aÂ statementÂ earlier this month admonishing Israelâs âbreach of academic freedomâ after 15 of its academics who hold foreign passports had their visa renewals either significantly delayed or denied outright.
Already, âsome professors have been forced to leave the country,â the university stated, while others remain under threat of removal from faculty positions.
âThese international professors play a critical role not only in the ongoing provision of quality education at Birzeit University but also in the long-term development of Palestinian higher education,â it said, warning that if this policy continues, Palestinian universities âwill be further isolated from the global academic environment.â
More than half of Palestinian academics who hold foreign passports and work at Palestinian universities have had delays or denials of Israeli visas over the past two years, preventing them from beginning or staying in their faculty positions,Â accordingÂ to the Palestinian Authorityâs minister of education.
Israel has placed foreign academics who teach at Birzeit âeffectively under house arrestâ in order to avoid any of the hundreds of checkpoints around the West Bank,Â explainedÂ Elia, writing forÂ Middle East Eye.
Birzeit underscored the right to education as a fundamental human right enshrined in international law and admonished Israel for ignoring its responsibility as an occupying power in preventing Palestiniansâ access to education.
The British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP) has launched the âEmpty Chairâ campaign to bring attention to Israelâs violation of Palestinian academic freedom.
USACBI is responding to the ongoing attacks on Palestinian education by asking faculty toÂ endorseÂ the academic and cultural boycott of Israel and for students toÂ pledgeÂ not to participate in study abroad programs in Israel.