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Friday, 19 August 2011

Hamas Prevents Palestinian Students Studying Abroad

PCHR Denounces Gaza Ministry of Education's Decision to Prevent Students Having Scholarships to Study in USA from Leaving Gaza

It’s unbelievable. After Israel has come under attack for preventing Gazan students taking up Fulbright and other scholarships abroad, thus denying Palestinian youth educational opportunities, the backwoodsmen of Hamas, who look back to the 7th Century whilst retaining their grip on power with 21st century means, have effectively colluded with the Zionists.

It is understandable that Hamas, which believes all wisdom resides in ancient texts (although its weaponry is of a more recent vintage) doesn’t like modern education. Such is the nature of most religious groups and Hamas is not exceptional. Indeed it is only the fight against Israel and Zionism which keeps Hamas relatively tamed in its approach to the civilian population of Gaza. There is no doubt that if it could get away with it, it would emulate the Iranian dictatorship – only more so. Despite the fact that Hamas in Gaza is now an unelected dictatorship, like Abbas its mandate has run out since the beginning of last year, they have no hesitation in laying down the law to those they govern.

It is easy to forget that Hamas arose in the 1980’s, when the West sponsored Political Islam as a bulwark against Communism. In Afghanistan the US sponsored the Mujahadeen. Even James Bond got into the act with a film, Living Daylights, which had the Islamic fighter as its hero under a Lawrence of Arabia figure. Hamas was similarly sponsored and indeed helped with its birth pangs by the Israeli state, as a counter-weight against the secular Palestinian nationalists. Politically there is nothing progressive about the Hamas regime and its preventing Palestinian students from taking up the few educational opportunities abroad should not be seen as unremarkable.

We should join the call of the PHRC in calling for this decision of the Middle Ages to be reversed.

Tony Greenstein

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights Press Release

Ref: 84/2011
Date: 17 August 2011
Time: 10:20 GMT

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) denounces the decision taken by the Palestinian Ministry of Education in Gaza to prevent 8 students who have been granted scholarships to study in the United States of America via AMIDEAST, from travelling for "social and cultural reasons." PCHR believes that this decision contradicts basic human rights standards, especially the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Article 26 of UDHR stipulates that: "Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children." This Decision means also that a number of our best students will be deprived of benefiting from scholarships to study abroad while we are in a dire need to communicate with the outside world, break the isolation and blockade imposed on our people and develop our capacities.

Eight students from secondary schools in Gaza won scholarships from the YES program run by the AMIDEAST. They were selected for the scholarship based on academic criteria and the selection process took a full year. This scholarship is a part of youth exchange program run by the U.S. Department of State and targets students between 15 and 17 years old. Successful students spend one year in the United States for study.

This program is funded by a number of donors from the United States and targets clever students from all over the world, including Palestine. In this program, successful applicants go to the United States to spend a full year in secondary schools where they learn English and study physics, mathematics … etc. At the end, they obtain the certificate of grade 10 or 11. This certificate is recognized by the Palestinian Ministry of Education. The program sets a condition that successful applicants must return to their countries to resume their secondary education. This program has been annually implemented since 2003.

On 25 July 2005, the parents of the successful students submitted a request to Dr. Usama al-Muzeini, Minister of Education and Higher Education in Gaza, to approve granting facilitations necessary for their children's travel via Erez crossing on 17 August 2011. However, the Minister rejected the request on 31 July 2011 for "social and cultural reasons." It should be noted that in their requests, the parents explained that they are know the details of the scholarship and about measures necessary for the protection of their children.

Over the past two weeks, PCHR made intensive efforts with the office of the Prime Minister in Gaza, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education and with other government officials to facilitate the travel of the mentioned students to the United States on due time so they do not miss their scholarships which may be granted to other students somewhere else. However, these efforts failed despite all the promises received by PCHR from some officials. Yesterday evening, 16 August, 2011, PCHR was officially informed that the decision to prevent the students from travelling was not changed and thus the students were unable to travel as scheduled for today.

PCHR denounces this decision and:

1. Calls upon the Prime Minister in Gaza to intervene promptly in order to annul this decision and to give instructions to facilitate the travel of these students in fear for missing this opportunity offered to them.

2. Believes that this decision violates basic human rights standards and the Palestinian Basic Law and amendments thereto which guarantee the right to education and the right to freedom of movement.

3. Believes that it is neither acceptable nor logical that, while we are struggling to break the illegal blockade imposed on Gaza by the Israeli occupation forces, we impose illegal restrictions on the enjoyment of the right to education and the right to freedom of movement.

For more information please call PCHR office in Gaza, Gaza Strip, on +972 8 2824776 - 2825893
PCHR, 29 Omer El Mukhtar St., El Remal, PO Box 1328 Gaza, Gaza Strip. E-mail:, Webpage

1 comment:

Ruth Tenne said...

Being a committed supporter of the cultural boycott of Israel, I see the Hamas's action of preventing Gazan students from taking up a scholarship in the US , as an unacceptable and lamentable form of holding a cultural boycott of their own people.
Ruth Tenne