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Palestinian Universities Post Urgent Appeal

Palestinian Universities Post Urgent Appeal Due to Israeli Racist Imposed Hardships


By Genevieve Cora Fraser*

Higher Education in Palestine is increasingly under siege from Israeli death squad attacks on the lives and well being of professors and students to Israel's refusal to grant work visas to instructors as well as from a variety of other hardships such as the deterioration of the Palestinian economy and the inability of students to access their schools due to Israeli closures, roadblocks and the Racist Apartheid Wall. Palestinian education is under attack from Gaza to An-Najay University in Nablus, from Beir Zeit to Al-Quds in Jerusalem and the Arab American University, Jenin. As a result an urgent appeal is being made to the world community for financial assistance, equipment donations, "volunteer" teachers and political pressure to alleviate this crisis.

According to Arab American University President Waleed Deeb, "The only means to economic security for Palestinians is through education because the Intifada has made all jobs difficult or impossible, even the most basic such as farming." Because of the increased poverty of the region Palestinians can no longer afford an international education, he stated at a Faculty for Israeli-Palestinian Peace conference recently held in Brussels, Belgium. Today Palestine's ten universities are struggling to maintain the standards needed to provide a college education inside Palestine for its 100,000 plus students.

"Today 30% of Palestinian students cannot afford to pay any tuition, and 60% can only pay a portion of the tuition," Deeb commented. "But Palestinian institutions cannot and will not dismiss students because they cannot pay. Meanwhile there are fewer and fewer instructors available to hire." Palestinian faculty is currently being circulated among institutions and 50% of the remaining faculty is foreign. But the availability of foreign instructors is diminishing because of security issues and restrictions with Israel now prohibiting the issuance of work permit visas.

Al-Quds University, the only Arab university that provides higher education and community services within the Jerusalem area and to the neighboring towns, villages and refugee camps has posted an appeal on its website. During the past academic year contributions from Arab governments helped to alleviate the crisis somewhat, enabling the university to pay a portion of the salaries of its 723 support staff employees and faculty members. But the university continues "to face a major, unprecedented financial and operational crisis brought about by the dire economic and social situation presently prevailing in Palestine. Steady subsidies are not available, and the university is unable to charge its students full tuition fees commensurate with real costs."

"Al-Quds University remains in arrears and now faces more difficulties in the coming months. It has no recourse but to appeal to more sources and additional help from all those who are keen to support Palestinian education.

For its sustainability, the university needs the continuity and stability that only constant and varied sources of incoming contributions can provide. That means that now, only through your help in whatever way, through any contribution on your part, will Al-Quds University sustain and improve its potential in continuing and developing its vital services during a very challenging period."

The late, great Edward Said once wrote that "We are all Palestinians." In that spirit we are all Alumni of Palestine's Heroic Universities and they need our help more than ever. Please consider sponsoring a student's education through scholarships, donating money for vitally needed equipment such as computers and science labs, helping to fund a professor's salary, or assist in a building project. Email: fundraising@admin.alquds.edu, check out www.aauj.edu or access the websites of Palestine's other universities to find out how you can help.

The struggle to endure is at the heart of Palestinian resistance to Israel's brutal and life-threatening Occupation. Please assist Palestine's universities to not only survive but thrive as a light in one of their darkest hours.

* Genevieve Cora Fraser is a poet, playwright, journalist, plus an environmental and human rights activist residing in Massachusetts, USA.


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