A new report: Academia Undermined: Israeli restrictions on foreign academics in Palestinian higher education institutions, has been issued by the Campaign for the Right to enter the occupied Palestinian territory (RTE).
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.
The report details
The impact on the quality of education provided, and
The impact of the isolation of Palestinian academia from the broader academic community on the development of their academic institutions and educational development in general.
It concludes with several recommendations.
Research for this study was conducted by the Campaign for the Right to Enter the oPt (RTE), and was based on interviews with university officials, department chairs, faculty members and students at four Palestinian universities, three in the West Bank (Birzeit, Al-Quds, and Bethlehem) and one in Gaza (Islamic University of Gaza). Interviews were also undertaken with Israeli academics, and some case studies and testimonies were gathered on the actual experiences of foreign academics trying to enter the oPt and work at Palestinian universities. Additional material presented is drawn from RTE’s previous and ongoing research into issues around issues of access, movement and residency in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory.