November 06, 2007

Israel's academic boycott

This issue seems to have come into the public domain on October 5th with the publication of two letters to the Guardian highlighting the plight of Khaled al-Mudallal, who is being confined to Gaza by Israel and thereby denied the right to return to Bradford where he studies.
We find it deeply ironic, given the recent heated debate on the proposed academic boycott of Israeli universities by the UCU (Report, September 29), that the Israeli supreme court on October 2 ruled that Kahled al-Mudallal, a Bradford University student, cannot leave Gaza and return to his studies in the UK. We hope the voices that criticised the boycott and called so vociferously for preserving academic freedom and promoting dialogue will lend their support to those of us calling on the Israeli government to reverse the supreme court decision, and on the UK government to do all in its power to support the human rights of students like Kahled.

This is not just an issue of academic freedom, important though that is, but is a flagrant breach of a fundamental human right to education. This judgment undermines both academic freedom and the very possibility of constructive dialogue across communities.

Sarah Perrigo,
Dr Mandy Turner,
Prof Jenny Pearce,
Prof Mike Pugh,
Prof Donna Pankhurst,
Prof Nana Poku,
Valentina Bartolucci and 10 others

Department of peace studies, University of Bradford
See that? They called on opponents of the academic boycott of Israel to support this guy. I checked Engage to see if they had indeed supported him and, whadya know? See the next letter:
The right to education is a human right as stated in the UN universal declaration of human rights. Khaled al-Mudallal is one of hundreds of Palestinian students who are currently unable to leave Gaza to begin the new academic year. The British government should do everything in its power to ensure that Israel lifts the restrictions that are preventing Khaled and other students leaving Gaza to complete their education.

Richard Burden MP
Gemma Tumelty President, NUS
Sally Hunt General secretary, UCU
Ruqayyah Collector NUS Black Students' Campaign
Dan Judelson Jews for Justice for Palestinians
Professor Irene Bruegel
Betty Hunter Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Professor Lynne Segal
Richard Kuper
According to Engage "Jon Pike signed the letter but was, unfortunately, due to error, not included in the final version."

Now the reason I'm running this now is that there is an article in today's Guardian on the case by Rory McCarthy:
Khaled al-Mudallal expected to spend this autumn sitting in lectures and writing papers for his final year in business and management studies in Bradford, the town he has lived in for six years.

But when Mr Mudallal, 22, went home to visit his wife and family in Gaza this summer he found himself trapped. Within a few days of his return Hamas, the Islamist movement which won Palestinian elections last year, seized control of the Gaza Strip. Israel closed the crossings out of Gaza and six weeks ago declared the small stretch of land a "hostile entity".

He is one of 670 Palestinian students in Gaza with places on university courses abroad who are unable to return to their studies. Supported by an Israeli human rights group, Gisha, the students have brought a second petition to Israel's supreme court demanding the right to travel after a first petition was rejected. A response is expected today.
They're wonderful the zionists are, just wonderful. Palestinians abroad are denied the right to return home, and Palestinians in Palestine are denied the right to return abroad. It's like a cruel cat and mouse game. But I shouldn't be despondent and nor should the Palestinians. Help is at hand. See this, the most striking, for me anyway, paragraph in the article:
Mark Regev, Israel's foreign ministry spokesman, said: "We are working to find an expeditious solution. We want them to go and study and help build a better future for the Palestinians."
Ah, I love a happy ending.


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