Palestinian student Yousef Dweikat was banned from entering the campus of his university, An-Najah National University in occupied Nablus, on Tuesday, 28 August 2018. Dweikat, 20, a student at the Faculty of Engineering at the university and an activist with the Islamic Bloc student organization, was summoned to meet with Israeli occupation intelligence in the Salem military base.
When he presented himself, he was presented with an order barring him from his own university campus for the next six months. A Palestinian refugee who lives in Balata refugee camp, Dweikat, an electrical engineering student, is a former prisoner; he was arrested by Israeli occupation forces in March 2017 and jailed for six months for his involvement in student activities.
In an interview with Quds News, Dweikat called upon the university “to create solutions and alternatives so that this type of decision does not affect a larger number of university students.” He noted that the Israeli occupation had used a similar policy against university students in the 1980s and is now returning to those practices. Dweikat also said that his education was already delayed because of his previous detention and that he had already registered for the new year, paid his university fees and prepared to start the new semester. “My family and I are tense and frustrated. We do not know what we can do next to confront this unjust decision,” he said.
This is only the latest violation of the Palestinian right to education by the Israeli occupation. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Education, there are over 300 Palestinian university students imprisoned in Israeli jails. Each year, especially around the time of student council elections, universities face invasions and attacks on active students. Student leaders like Omar Kiswani, president of the Bir Zeit University student council, have been seized from campus in violent raids.
In addition, as the Palestinian Right to Enter campaign notes, international academics – including Palestinians born in exile with foreign passports – are routinely denied entry to Palestine by Israeli occupation forces at colonially controlled borders. By denying entry to scholars invited to teach, lecture or study at Palestinian universities, the Israeli occupation seeks to isolate Palestinian educators, scholars and students from their international peers.
These routine violations of Palestinian academic freedom – along with the racial exclusion of international students, particularly those identified as Arabs, Muslims or Palestinians – have added impetus to the ongoing call for academic boycott of Israeli institutions. The US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel is urging universities, students and faculty to take a pledge to boycott “study abroad” programs run by Israeli institutions, “We Will not Study in Israel Until Palestinians Can Return: Boycott Study Abroad in Israel!” Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network is one of the endorsers of this call.
As many students head back to university around the world, solidarity with Palestinian students and scholars is particularly critical. These arrests and bans are an attempt to dismantle Palestinian students’ ability to learn, organize and uphold their identity, existence and struggle on campus. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network urges supporters of Palestine on campuses around the world to join the campaign to boycott Study Abroad, support the academic boycott of Israel and hold events and activities to highlight the violation of Palestinian rights to education, particularly the imprisonment of Palestinian students.