April 2015, via BRICUP (British Committee for the Universities of Palestine)
Palestinian Universities under Occupation
In April 2015 three BRICUP members were part of a pan-European delegation that visited six Palestinian Universities to learn at first hand how the occupation undermines research, teaching and learning. There would have been four BRICUP delegates but one of us was refused entry at Tel Aviv Airport.
We were treated with great courtesy at all the universities where, in each case, we met the President of the University or their deputy as well as a great number of staff. students and trade union reps. They unanimously expressed great appreciation of the global movement for the academic boycott of Israel. Our meeting deepened our understanding of the indignities and disruption Israeli occupation imposes on Palestinian academics and the lack of concern expressed by Israeli academics for those who they should regard as their peers even when professors at Palestinian universities are arrested and detained without charge or trial.
While we all knew that the occupation disrupted Palestinian universities our visit taught us how the multitude of, what may be individually small, disruptions combine and interact to create total inability to conduct normal academic business. It is the combination of travel delays; the refusal of the Israeli authorities to allow the import of standard text-books; the delays or impossibility or acquiring mundane and innocuous materials necessary for teaching and research; the time spent freeing students from arbitrary arrest (or even finding out if they have been arrested and if so where they are held); the impossibility of employing overseas scholars to teach specialist modules; and so on and on and on.
Summary of Findings
The delegation was unable to visit all of Palestine’s institutions of higher education, and in particular it was prevented from visiting Gaza’s universities by the Israeli blockade. However, it found a consistent pattern across all the universities that it visited, and by their systemic nature it is reasonable to assume that this pattern applies to all of them.
This pattern was of a coherent and multi-faceted policy of Israeli interference with the normal functioning of academic life. This interference inhibits free movement of staff and students; reduces academic effectiveness and productivity by the usurpation of staff time through mobility restrictions and imposed bureaucratic obstacles; prevents effective collaboration and sharing of intellectual resources between Palestinian universities; obstructs international visits to Palestinian universities; substantially prevents the employment of teaching staff from abroad; interrupts the supply of equipment, materials and books; and subjects staff and students to repeated humiliations and indignity.
View/download BRICUP Delegation Report [pdf, 240kb]