Page 4        Universities

During the Jordanian occupation, from 1948 to 1967, there were no universities in occupied Palestine. One good thing that Israel did was allow the opening of universities - I think many college teachers here have met Palestinian students in the US and know what good students many of them are.   One reason the Jews are so good academically, you may know, is a long history of being expelled from country after country.  We learned, many centuries ago, that possessions can be taken away from you, that your bags can be seized at the border - but what you have inside your head they cannot take away from you.  I know that many Palestinian families have adopted a high respect for knowledge for much the same reason.

View of building at Bir Zeit UniversityIsraeli army truck convoy outside Bir Zeit University

Of course, the fact that Israel has allowed the opening of Palestinian Universities doesn't mean it always treats them well.   Here is Bir Zeit University, which now ranks quite respectably academically, but is frequently closed by the Israeli army - here is a picture of an army convoy coming up to the East Gate on campus - on the theory, apparently, that students are radicals. (Pictures from the Bir Zeit University website). I've been a student myself, at Berkeley in the 1960's, and I can tell you that when the army gets too conspicuous on campus, and particularly when it prevents you from going to class, students get more anti-government and more radical, not less.

Jesus, among others, was pretty good on the issue of kindness to strangers, even on talking to enemies. You will recall he spoke with the Samaritan woman and even ate with tax collectors. I sometimes wonder if our refusal to talk to Hamas in Gaza is going to be as promptly successful in causing  desirable changes there as our similar policy has been in Cuba.

New Technology Building at Al Quds UniversityRooftop view showing wall near university entrance

Here's a new building at Al Quds University in Jerusalem - Al Quds is the Arabic name for Jerusalem - this university was founded in 1984, and this is the new technology building. The campus was built in a very near-in suburb of Jerusalem called Abu Dis.  When Israel started building its so-called "Separation Barrier" to try to keep suicide bombers out of Israel proper, it ran the wall right beside downtown Abu Dis and right beside the campus.    Above is a shot of the campus gate. To the left of the wall are agricultural fields, cut off from the village by the wall.  The campus is now outside the wall, and it is very hard for most of its students to travel to campus. And below  is a view from behind the gym on campus where we see graffiti on the wall.  These three shots are from the university web sites; the second one below is a shot we took, from the Israeli side of the wall, standing in a new suburb of Jerusalem, Nof Tzion, erected on land Israel occupied in 1967.

Volleyball court with large wall behind itDistant view of wall in front of Abu Dis

Some other forms of education.

Well, Eunice and I are teachers, and we like to talk about teaching, in various forms.  [ In our talk ] Eunice will tell you about the Holy Child School, in Bethlehem, a school for traumatized children (I have a pit about that on the next page.) 

Another place we visited in Bethlehem was an organization called The Palestine Conflict Resolution Center or  WI'AM, which I think comes from the Arabic word for "cordial relationships".  It was the director there, Zoughby Zoughby, who said that the TV man had said he "wasn't sexy", since he was excessively moderate.  He may not be sexy, but he is a wonderful speaker.   

He described WI'AM for us, and I'll try to quote some of it: "We sponsor meetings of reconciliation here, meetings with youth, with women, dialogs of culture and religion, we talk to American Indians and Serbians and so on.  We study and teach nonviolence and conflict resolution.  We have seminars. We have summer camps for children. We tell people: Do not demonize others.  Inject them with hope.  Learn about dealing with trauma.  We don't have post traumatic stress here.  We have ongoing stress.  We need to help kids to sing and dance and see flowers.  To travel to see the rest of the world.  How long until the trauma of the Holocaust is over?  A Jewish woman told me it might take seven generations.  That's seven generations, of course, after the trauma is stopped.  Ours goes on."

My notes of what he said include,     "We teach about Gandhi, Martin Luther King, lots of others like them from other countries.  We need arms of dialog, not dialog of arms.  There is an Arabic word "solhah" meeting reconciliation.  Listen to both sides with your heart, carefully, one human eyes the other, you've got to break stereotypes. You must be the change you want to make in the world."

Zoughby stressed that the only solution that would work is a win-win situation.  He also talked about the quote from Micah, What does the Lord require of thee but to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.?

We talked with him about education.  We knew from people we've met at the Mosque on Stratford Road in Memphis that the Jordanian Schools taught that the Jews claimed all the land "from the Euphrates to the Nile",  on the basis of Genesis 15:18, "In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates."   He said that those texts were used in Palestine when it was occupied by Jordan from 1948 until well after 1967.  Now, presumably, the Palestinians are allowed to make their own textbooks. Of course, the US government tries hard to make sure that they have no money to do so. It is only this summer (2007) that Israel has actually approved Arabic language textbooks, for use in Muslim schools controlled by Israel, that refer to the 1948 war both as the Israeli War of Independence and by its Arabic name, the Naqba - The Catastrophe.

I need Zoughby Zoughby pictures and some others here...)


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Israel/Palestine Info Home

Page 1: Introduction
Page 2:  Kfar Shalem
Page 3: Duheisha Refugee Camp
Page 4:  Universities
Next >  Page 5: The Wall / Security Barrier
Page 6:  Bethlehem
Page 7:  Efrat
Page 8: Hebron
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