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2016:

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2015:

23 Dec: JfJfP policy statement on BDS

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11 Nov: UK ban on visiting Palestinian mental health workers

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15 Dec: Chanukah: Celebrating the miracle of holy oil not military power

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2013:

29 November: JfJfP, with many others, signs a "UK must protest at Bedouin expulsion" letter

November: Press release, letter to the Times and advert in the Independent on the Prawer Plan

September: Briefing note and leaflet on the Prawer Plan

September: JfJfP/EJJP on the EU guidelines with regard to Israel

14th June: JfJfP joins other organisations in protest to BBC

2nd June: A light unto nations? - a leaflet for distribution at the "Closer to Israel" rally in London

24 Jan: Letter re the 1923 San Remo convention

18 Jan: In Support of Bab al-Shams

17 Jan: Letter to Camden New Journal about Veolia

11 Jan: JfJfP supports public letter to President Obama

Comments in 2012 and 2011

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Posts

FFIPP-UK Newsletter, 11th January 2007

 

If you only read ONE item in this newsletter, please read and respond to the first one below.

This newsletter contains:

1. An appeal for financial help for the International Campaign for Residency Rights – URGENT
(see the 7th December FFIPP-UK newsletter for much more on the ICRR)

2. FFIPP-UK Books Project update – call for volunteers to help (and notice of a call for funds!)

3. Infringements of Palestinian Academic Freedom – the work of Gisha, the Center for the Legal Protection of Freedom of Movement
a) its access to education project
b) attack on the right to travel in the occupied territories
c) end of year message (and some good news!)

4. University and College Union (UCU) conference in May – there will almost inevitably be a boycott resolution.
We are concerned that any debate on this topic should not divert attention from other pressing issues of Palestinian academic freedom that the union should be asked to consider in their own right, such as:
a) Residency Rights
b) harassment of students going to university on the West Bank (from Gaza and elsewhere)
c) harassment of Palestinian academics traveling abroad
d) calling on the Israeli academic unions to support Palestinian academic freedom and to protest a)-c) above
e) calling on UCU to establish relations with, and facilitate the work of, those working to protect Palestinian academic freedom, in particular Gisha and the Right to Enter campaign.

5. The cultural boycott

6. Other articles of interest
a) Ben White, Movement for Academic Boycott of Israel Alive, Well—and Growing, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, December 2006, http://www.wrmea.com/archives/December_2006/0612046.html
b) Sharif Hamadeh One Hand Clapping: Applauding Tolerance and Pluralism in Israeli Academia, Adalah’s Newsletter, Volume 13, May 2005

The next newsletter will contain:
1. materials pertaining to the recent All-Parliamentary Report on Antisemitism, the UCU sumission to the committee, the NUS response and what looks like a rapidly hotting-up debate;
2. A report of the FFIPP Conference held last week in Ramallah

1. Israeli Committee for Right of Residency (ICRR)

The Israeli Committee for Residency Rights refers to Residency Rights for Palestinians, for citizens of foreign countries who are of Palestinian descent, and for others who wish to live in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  ICRR is an ad hoc committee, has no officers, and has no means of funding itself apart from the good will of the small number of committee members to donate.

As you know, Israel maintains the sole right to register Palestinians as residents of the OPT and to allow or deny entry into the OPT.   Since the outbreak of the 2nd intifada in 2000, Israel has stopped registering individuals as residents to who had not previously been registered.  Israel did however allow holders of foreign passports who were not registered to reside in the OPT by means of renewing visas every 3 months by exiting the country and re-entering.  Since March 2006 this ended.  Israel began implementing a policy of denying entry to the OPT to individuals with foreign passports.  Most of these individuals reside in the OPT, many have resided there for years, have married, established families and businesses.  As a result of the new policy, families have been split apart, with one spouse a Palestinian in the OPT , the other a foreign passport holder who exited for the purpose of renewing the visa for another 3 months but denied re-entry.

Recently, the responsibility for giving permits to enter the OPT has been transferred from the Ministry of Interior to COGAT (Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories), under the supervision of General Yosef Mishlav.  He related to certain foreign embassies that he intended to implement a program to solve the problem of entry being denied (see attachment with report by Finnish embassy, at the ).  But all of this was verbal.  Nothing has been put into writing.  And there has been no change in policy on the ground.  But because nothing has been put into writing, one cannot legally challenge the lack of implementation nor appeal it.

ICRR is now confronting this whole policy which is having a devastating effect on academic, professional and social life on the West Bank. So far all its activities have been on a voluntary basis and self-funded. But aspects of its work such as legal challenges in the Israeli courts will require significant funding, and the need is NOW.

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Please donate to help ICRR develop its campaign. This work is charitable and the British Shalom Salaam Trust has offered to process donations which will enable it to reclaim tax on them and increase the value of the donations.

Please make cheques payable to BSST and send them to ICRR c/o BSST, P.O.Box 46081, London W9 2ZF with a declaration that: “I pay UK (income or capital gains) tax at least equal to the amount of tax recoverable by the British Shalom-Salaam Trust (No 1103211) and wish that donations made by me until further notice be treated as Gift Aid donations.” BSST can also accept trust and charity (eg CAF) cheques.

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There is also a grassroots Campaign for the Right of Entry/Re-Entry to the Occupied Palestinian Territory(oPt) in Palestine which ICRR works closely with.
Full statement

(1) Did you know that…

…since May 2006, the biggest university in the West Bank, Birzeit University, has seen a 50% decline in employees with foreign passports and lists the recent rise of visa-refusals as a significant attributable factor. Birzeit University hosts 400 non-resident students, all of whom are at risk of deportation or denial of entry upon their next visa-renewal. [source]

(2) “The U.S. government estimates that there are about 35,000 Palestinian Americans living in the West Bank at any one time, and an additional 10,000 Palestinians with other foreign passports. All these people and their families remain separated or at risk, and Palestinian educational and social service institutions, humanitarian agencies and businesses remain vulnerable to the loss of critical personnel, until applications for entry and residency in the oPt are decided in accordance with a clear, transparent and internationally lawful policy.”
[From 22nd December 2006 press release]

2. FFIPP-UK Books Project

Since the last Newsletter some progress has been made with the FFIPP-UK Books Project.

It needs volunteers to help in various ways:
a) Would you put out a call for relevant books at your university/among colleagues in your subject area?
Subject areas most in which books are most avidly in demand include: Medicine; nursing; Engineering; Sciences, especially chemistry, physics, biology, environment; Information Technology; English – language and literature; gender studies; Middle East studies. But there is almost certainly at least one university department interested in just about any topic, so don’t be put off if your area is not listed above!
b) Would you be willing to liaise with Palestinian librarians and academics in your subject area to ascertain more precisely what books would be most useful for them to receive?
c) Can you act as a collection point for books in your area before we centralise them for sorting and shipping (that will probably – but not necessarily – be in London)
d) Can you offer/can you suggest a space where we can store and sort books for a few months prior to shipping.

All this will of course require money and an appeal for help with funds as well as with books will be issued in due course – nothing is needed for the moment. Donations will again be charitable and the British Shalom-Salaam Trust has offered to process them as well (as for ICRR in the item above)

3. Infringements of Palestinian Academic Freedom

A: Gisha – the Center for the Legal Protection of Freedom of Movement is an Israeli not-for-profit organization that seeks to protect the fundamental rights of Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories by imposing human rights law as a limitation on the behavior of Israel’s military.

a) Gisha’s Access to Education Project

Since 2000, a travel ban on students under 35 years old has drastically reduced the number of Gazans studying at West Bank universities.[1]  Restrictions on leaving Gaza for Egypt have prevented thousands of others from studying abroad, and the issue has yet to be resolved, despite the withdrawal from Gaza.[2]  Many students who succeeded in reaching the West Bank have been forcibly returned to Gaza, in apparent violation of Israeli and international law. In desperation, universities have resorted to inadequate and costly satellite teaching (video conferences, flying foreign teachers into Gaza) for fields like medicine and occupational therapy, which are not taught in Gaza.  Other students remain stuck in Gaza, unemployed and unable to study.

In the words of one West Bank university dean, “the students [from Gaza] are despondent and have given up.”

The need for education is critical. In Gaza, home to one million people under the age of 30, there are just two universities and no medical school. An estimated 68% live in poverty, and unemployment estimates range from 40% to 60% (UN-OCHA).

In its Government Decision approving the withdrawal plan from the Gaza Strip, Israel pledged to help develop Gaza economically and to promote “institution-building, and improvements in the economy and welfare of the Palestinian residents.” Students from Gaza need to enter the West Bank and to travel abroad, to learn the skills required to build a peaceful, prosperous society.

[1] For example, at Bir Zeit University, enrollment of students from Gaza dropped from 350 in 1999 to 35 (Haaretz). None of the 90 (currently enrolled) medical students and ten Occupational Therapy students from Gaza has been able to reach their studies in the West Bank since 2000.

[2] Israel has blocked the re-opening of the Rafah crossing into Egypt, which has been closed almost continuously since September 7, and negotiations to open a Gaza-Egypt passage have yet to bear fruit.

Full report

b) Gisha News Release, Jan. 7, 2007

Yesh Din and seven other human rights organizations petition the High Court of Justice on the “Apartheid Order”

On January 7, seven Israeli human rights organizations petitioned the HCJ to demand the abolishment of the order which forbids Palestinians from traveling in Israeli cars driven by Israelis or foreigners. The petitioners are also requesting that the HCJ issue an interim order to postpone the Apartheid Order’s implementation until a ruling is reached. The order is scheduled to go into affect on January 19, 2007. The submission of the appeal presents an additional phase in the Israeli human rights organizations’ struggle to overrule the order. The preface of the appeal included the following statement: “The order at hand implements the principles of segregation, via the law and the creation of criminal sanctions, among two different nationalities which meet in the private sphere of their vehicles, without permit from the authorities. [?] Out of all the red lines [Israel has] crossed, the petitioners believe that the order on “traffic and transportation” carries within it grave seeds of evil as it orders civilians to become active agents of discrimination; and as it so crudely penetrates the private domain; and particularly because of its leaning towards tarnishing social, professional, political and personal relations and to enforce the ‘separation’ even on those who may not be approving of it.” The human rights organization petitioning are Yesh Din-Volunteers for Human Rights, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Gisha, the Public Committee against Torture in Israel, HaMoked-Center for Defense of the Individual, Machsom Watch, Physicians for Human Rights and Bimkom-Planners for Planning rights. The petitioners are represented by Yesh Din’s legal advisor, Adv. Michael Sfard.

c) End of year message from Gisha

Please accept my warmest wishes for a happy Hanukah, a merry Christmas, and a joyous Eid Al Adha.

I wish to share some nice news regarding Gisha’s efforts to protect the rights of Palestinian residents of the occupied territories to access education. At a hearing yesterday before Israel’s Supreme Court, the justices told the state attorney that the military’s total ban on Palestinian students studying in Israel was unreasonable. The court issued an interim order requiring the state to set criteria for evaluating requests by Palestinian students to study in Israel.

Below and attached is a press release describing the case. Sawsan Salameh, the Palestinian doctoral student in whose name the petition was submitted, will now be able to pursue her dream of becoming the first female professor of chemistry in the Palestinian territories – and additional students will be able to reach their studies, especially for advanced degrees not available in the West Bank or Gaza.

Yesterday’s decision is an important step in Gisha’s efforts to protect the rights of Palestinian students to access education. Our use of the media has been very important in challenging the ban. Extensive coverage of the ban in the Israeli and foreign press, as well as our advocacy before decision-makers within the military establishment, has been critical in obtaining concessions from the state. This is part of Gisha’s holistic approach: to use litigation, media coverage, and lobbying before Israeli and foreign officials to change policies that violate the rights of Palestinian residents of the occupied territories to access education and to engage in economic development.

There is much more work to be done. We will now seek to ensure that the criteria established by the state are respective of the rights of Palestinians to access education and the rights of Israeli universities to enroll qualified students, irrespective of national origin. We continue to challenge another military policy that prevents Gaza residents from studying at Palestinian universities in the West Bank. Yesterday’s decision will have a positive effect on these efforts.

The approach of the new year comes at a difficult period, a period of instability, tight restrictions on movement, and deteriorating humanitarian conditions in Gaza and the West Bank. At Gisha, we are re-doubling our efforts to remove impediments to the passage of people and goods, so that worthwhile efforts to build a better future in the Palestinian territories can succeed.

Your kind and generous support over the last year has made our achievements possible.  We ask for your continued support in order to remove obstacles to the human and economic development to which residents of Gaza and the West Bank have a right.

I wish you and your loved ones a happy new year, pleasant holidays, and success in achieving the goals you set for yourselves. May the new year bring us the wisdom to learn how to live with each other in freedom and peace.

Best regards,

Sari Bashi
Director, Gisha

4. University and College Union (UCU) conference in May – there will almost inevitably be a boycott resolution.

We are concerned that any debate on this topic should not divert attention from other pressing issues of Palestinian academic freedom that the union should be asked to consider in their own right, such as:
a) Residency Rights
b) harassment of students going to university on the West Bank (from Gaza and elsewhere)
c) harassment of Palestinian academics traveling abroad
d) calling on the Israeli academic unions to support Palestinian academic freedom and to protest a)-c) above
e) calling on UCU to establish relations with, and facilitate the work of, those working to protect Palestinian academic freedom, in particular Gisha and the Right to Enter campaign.

We will bring you more information on all these themes in future bulletins.

It is worth noting that on 19th December the High Court, as a result of a case brought by Gisha, declared that the blanket ban on Palestinian students studying in Israel was unreasonable and ordered the IDF to set criteria for the admission of Palestinian students into local universities within 60 days. It remains to be seen how the IDF responds (it is not unknown for court orders in Israel simply to be avoided or circumvented.)
See Tamara Traubman’s report in Ha’aretz, 20th December 2006.
This change of policy was supported the following week by the Knesset Education, Culture, and Sports Committee.

But the ban on Palestinian students traveling from Gaza to study in the West Bank remains unaffected, as does the right of Palestinians to travel freely and study where they want on the West Bank…
As Gisha put it in a February 2006 briefing paper:
” The separation of Gaza from the West Bank and the ban on students from Gaza studying at West Bank universities are particularly worrisome given that critical professions – such as medicine, public health, and occupational therapy – can only be studied in the West Bank. Barring young Gazans from reaching these institutions prevents them from becoming doctors, occupational therapists, and public health workers. It prevents the people of Gaza from benefiting from the services that these students would have provided upon graduation. Gisha views universities not as “greenhouses for growing terrorists” but rather as opportunities for young people to develop, acquire skills and training, and pursue their professional aspirations.”

It is worth noting, too, that the net effect of Israeli occupation policy has been to accelerate an ‘alarming out-migration trend’ which was reported at the end of October – to which the denying of visas has contributed mightily. [See Rima Merriman Palestinian Brain Drain Electronic Intifada, 31 October 2006]

5. The cultural boycott

On 15th December a letter calling for support for the cultural boycott of Israel, signed by John Berger and 94 others, appeared in the Guardian under the title Israel boycott may be the way to peace. Berger elaborated his argument in a Comment is Free piece the same day called We must speak out. This produced a stinging attack a week later by Anthony Julius and Simon Schama entitled John Berger is wrong, asserting that ‘The call for a cultural boycott of Israel is banal, gestural and morally compromised.’ Ran HaCohen in turn published a powerful response to them on the antiwar.com website, The Embarrassment of the Wretched. Meanwhile, in Challenge, a ‘leftist magazine…published in Tel Aviv-Jaffa by Arabs and Jews’, Asma Agbarieh argued: The Cultural Boycott [was] Punishing the Wrong Side.

See also the contributions of Juliano Mer Khamis and Uri Davis in the December 2006 FFIPP-I Bulletin.

6. Other articles of interest

a) Ben White Movement for Academic Boycott of Israel Alive, Well—and Growing, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, December 2006

b) Sharif Hamadeh One Hand Clapping: Applauding Tolerance and Pluralism in Israeli Academia, Adalah’s Newsletter, Volume 13, May 2005

(This piece dates from the period of the AUT discussion in 2005.)
“There are good reasons why Palestinians at Israeli universities have not been heard applauding the tolerance and liberalism of these institutions. For a start, there aren’t many of them. Although Palestinian citizens of Israel comprise approximately 20% of the population in Israel, according to official data, “non-Jews” comprise 9.5 percent of undergraduates, 4.8 percent of students in Masters’ programs, and 3.2 percent of students in doctoral degree programs. Moreover, as the civic-equality group Sikkuy has acknowledged, a “non-Jewish” applicant is three times more likely to be rejected from university than a Jewish candidate. As for the number of Palestinian academic staff in Israeli universities, at the last count, that figure was found to be a paltry one percent.”

 

 

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