From the Editors
[The following letter was issued by the Committee on Academic Freedom of the Middle East Studies Association concerning the decision by the US Department of State to freeze scholaships for students from Gaza seeking to study in the West Bank.]
13 November 2012
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Clinton:
On behalf of the Committee on Academic Freedom (CAF) of the Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA), I write to express MESA’s concern about the recent decision by the US Department of State to freeze scholarships in the 2012-13 academic year for students from Gaza who seek to further their studies in the West Bank. According to Victoria Nuland, spokesperson for the US Department of State, the scholarships were suspended for this academic year so that American policy can be in compliance with ongoing Israeli policy concerning the issuance of travel permits to Gaza students.
MESA was founded in 1966 to promote scholarship and teaching on the Middle East and North Africa. It is the preeminent organization in the field. The Association publishes the International Journal of Middle East Studies and has nearly 3,000 members worldwide. MESA is committed to ensuring academic freedom and freedom of expression, both within the region and in connection with the study of the region in North America and elsewhere.
Members of the CAF committee of MESA charged with monitoring infringements upon academic freedom see no justification at all for the US Department of State to strive for compliance with an unjust policy on the part of the Government of Israel. The blanket travel ban in place since 2000 against students from the Gaza Strip who want to study in the West Bank, and the more recent decision by the Israeli High Court that Israel is not obligated to allow Palestinian residents of Gaza to study in the West Bank and may treat them as “enemy citizens” for purposes of passage, constitute blatant discrimination based on national origin since they apply only to one community, the Palestinians. Moreover, the ban and the court decision violate the very human rights conventions to which Israel and the United States are party.
On numerous occasions, most recently in July of this year, CAF has written to the Israeli government to protest its ongoing violations of the rights of Palestinians to education and denial to Gaza students of the possibility to study in the West Bank. The reasons set forth in these letters are ones CAF members would have expected the US State Department to uphold when interacting with the Government of Israel. After all, these are principles American citizens have long taken for granted as holding for themselves and ones US officials would defend in relations with other nations. Nothing in keeping with these principles justifies the compliance voiced by Ms. Nuland and reflected in the decision she defends.
The US scholarship program, which has been in place for two years, has offered thirty scholarships annually to promising students from underprivileged backgrounds -- students who would not otherwise have had such a life transforming opportunity. Given that Israel approves approximately 4,000 travel permits per month for individuals from Gaza wishing to travel to the West Bank for medical or humanitarian reasons, we suggest the following: rather than suspend the scholarship program, work with the Government of Israel to expand the latter’s definition of “humanitarian” to include education
Israel’s violations against the rights of Palestinians are extensive, and the barriers it places before those who seek to further their education are a central part of that record. Friends of freedom, especially friends of freedom who claim to view all humans as equal, should have no part in furthering the discriminatory practices followed by Israel. Members of MESA’s Committee on Academic Freedom and I therefore urge you to rescind this decision to suspend the scholarship program and pursue the step suggested above. That will allow the US to return to its time-honored position of defending the rights of all people to academic freedom.
We look forward to your response,
Fred M. Donner
Professor of Near Eastern History, University of Chicago
Minister of Education Gideon Sa'ad
Ambassador Michael Oren
Honorable George Mitchell
Ambassador Daniel B. Shapiro
If you prefer, email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hot on Facebook
Jadalicious / جدلشس
"The women express a desire to participate in warfare, and are frustrated when they are forced to remain in the safe houses with the children while the men conduct battle. In 1948, they gain the “right” to guard the kibbutz with hunting rifles. The film concludes with photographs of these women wielding their guns, implying that they gave up their own liberation for the sake of the national struggle and the settler colonial project."click | email | tweet
Latest EntriesView All Entries »
- On the Margins Roundup (September)
- New Texts Out Now: Abdullah Al-Arian, Answering the Call: Popular Islamic Activism in Sadat’s Egypt
- Statement: Over 250 Anthropologists Join Call for a Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions
- Le projet de ville nouvelle Bio-Istanbul: Un urbanisme spéculatif, ségrégatif et durable
- Egypt Monthly Edition on Jadaliyya (September 2014)
- Cities Media Roundup (September 1-30)
- Arabian Peninsula Media Roundup (September 30)
- A Voyage to Toledo: Twenty-Five Years After the 'Jews of the Orient and Palestinians' Meeting
- Displaced Intentions
- When Your Name is on the Blacklist
- عندما يكون اسمك على "القائمة السوداء"
- Statement by Scholar Ann Laura Stoler Endorsing BDS against Israel
- Turkey’s New Migration Policy: Control Through Bureaucratization
- Last Week on Jadaliyya (September 22-28)
- El Rass
- Excavating the Sky
- Egypt Media Roundup (September 29)
- Turkey after Gezi: An Interview with Simten Cosar
- Tadween Spotlight: Gaza
- Evden Emlaga Fikirtepe: Rant ve Spekulasyon Ekseninde Kentsel Donusum
Jad NavigationView Full Map, Topics, and Countries »
Statement by Jewish Studies Professors Regarding 'Deplorable' Amcha Initiative http://t.co/2eEW1QeGAA
10 hours ago
Jadaliyya's Top 50 of All Time http://t.co/mdnFJqWqM2
10 hours ago
Le projet de ville nouvelle Bio-Istanbul http://t.co/7TCOtNabQC
10 hours ago
Statement: Over 250 Anthropologists Join Call for a Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions http://t.co/d5GNce4597
11 hours ago
Egypt Monthly Edition on Jadaliyya (September 2014) http://t.co/lVuyHprzP6
11 hours ago