US cancels Gaza scholarship program because Israel won’t let students travel

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 33 Comments

From the Associated Press:

Under Israeli pressure, U.S. officials have quietly cancelled a two-year-old scholarship program for students in the Gaza Strip, undercutting one of the few American outreach programs to people in the Hamas-ruled territory. The program now faces an uncertain future, just two years after being launched with great fanfare by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton during a visit to the region.

The program offers about 30 scholarships to promising but financially challenged Palestinian high school seniors from Gaza and the West Bank to study in local Palestinian universities. . . .

In a statement, the American consulate in Jerusalem said it decided not to grant the scholarships over the summer after Israel said it would not permit the students to travel. “Because of the timing and risk of losing funding, available scholarships were awarded to other applicants,” it said. “We hope to include Gazan students in future programs.”

The scholarship program, administered by the non-profit group Amideast, is one of the few contacts between the U.S. and Hamas-ruled Gaza.

Sari Bashi, director of Gisha, an Israeli advocacy group dedicated to increasing the free movement of Palestinians, said the case reflected U.S. unwillingness to confront a strong ally.

“It’s unfortunate and telling that the U.S. government cannot convince its closest ally in the region to allow its scholarship holders to travel from Gaza to Palestinian universities in the West Bank, for fear of clashing or making a diplomatic issue,” she said.

Hamas, meanwhile, has also jumped in. Last year, it barred seven high school students from travelling to the United States for a year of study under a U.S. program, citing worries over their supervision.

[Amal ] Ashour [who had her scholarship cancelled] said students like her are caught in the political battle and stand to lose the most.

“When I studied in America, I loved how you could travel from state to state without any borders. You live your life,” she said. “I can’t leave Gaza. Everyone — Hamas, Israel, everyone — is controlling us. We are just students. We don’t have anything to do with politics.”

Read the entire article here.

About Adam Horowitz

Adam Horowitz is Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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33 Responses

  1. Bumblebye
    October 15, 2012, 12:45 pm

    So students from Gaza suffer because the US is afraid to lay down the law to its embarrassing, recalcitrant “ally”. Israel, pipsqueak nation, controlling what the US can or cannot do.

  2. amigo
    October 15, 2012, 1:31 pm

    Light unto the nation’s. Sure it is

  3. mondonut
    October 15, 2012, 1:45 pm

    Israel cannot prevent Gaza students from travelling, they can cross into Egypt and from there go to any country that permits their entry. Israel can however deny entry into both Israel and the West Bank. Not “allowing travel” and denying entry are entirely different subjects.

    • Bumblebye
      October 15, 2012, 2:01 pm

      Read the second para again, donut! The scholarships are to other Palestinian universities.

    • Woody Tanaka
      October 15, 2012, 2:21 pm

      “Not ‘allowing travel’ and denying entry are entirely different subjects.”

      Nonsense. They are already in Palestine and wish to go to another part of Palestine to study. The zionist occupation forces are not allowing this travel. It’s not an issue of “denying entry” because they’re already inside Palestine, so they’re not requesting “entry” into anywhere.

      • mondonut
        October 15, 2012, 9:56 pm

        Woody Tanaka says: Nonsense. They are already in Palestine
        =======================================
        But it is interesting that Gaza is now Palestine. I guess that means there are no more refugees in Gaza, they are now Palestinians in Palestine. Time to pull out the UNRWA and subtract 1.5m from the refugee roles.

      • Woody Tanaka
        October 16, 2012, 9:57 am

        “But it is interesting that Gaza is now Palestine”

        Of course it’s Palestine. Gaza is Palestine, the West Bank is Palestine and the abomination called “israel” is Palestine. It’s all Palestine.

        “I guess that means there are no more refugees in Gaza, they are now Palestinians in Palestine.”

        You would be wrong. They’re preventing from returning to their home, which is in the portion of Palestine which the zionists term “israel.” Until they are permitted their right to return their, they are refugees.

      • talknic
        October 16, 2012, 11:42 am

        mondonut October 15, 2012 at 9:56 pm .. opens mouth, spews nonsense .. again and again and again

        “But it is interesting that Gaza is now Palestine”

        Gaza is a part of what was left of Palestine after Israel was declared independent of Palestine.

        “I guess that means there are no more refugees in Gaza”

        Uh? If they weren’t from Gaza and they’re not allowed to return to their homes and they haven’t taken citizenship in any other country other than the country of return, they’re refugees. Unlike Jewish folk from Arab States, who have taken citizenship in countries other than those of return, who’re NOT refugees

        “Time to pull out the UNRWA and subtract 1.5m from the refugee roles”

        Er, no, it’s time you realized NOTHING you say makes any sense, nor can any of the pathetic and illogical excuses on offer attempting to justify Israel’s illegal activities OUTSIDE of its actual Internationally recognized sovereign extent.

        It’s time Israel pulled out of Palestine, there’s enough room for every Jew on the planet within Israel’s declared borders.

      • mondonut
        October 16, 2012, 11:55 am

        talknic says: Uh? If they weren’t from Gaza and they’re not allowed to return to their homes and they haven’t taken citizenship in any other country other than the country of return, they’re refugees. Unlike Jewish folk from Arab States, who have taken citizenship in countries other than those of return, who’re NOT refugees.
        =======================================
        If Gaza is not Palestine that would make some sense. But if Gaza is the country of Palestine as your buddy insists, and they are citizens are Palestine, then at best they are “internally displaced”, which as you know if far different than being a refugee. In fact, that makes them not refugees by legal definition.

    • andrew r
      October 15, 2012, 2:22 pm

      Once again, an attempt to defend Israel leaves out a few inconvenient facts:

      In September 2005, following the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip, Israel issued an order declaring the end of the military government there. However, Israel continues to control almost all the exit and entry points around the Gaza Strip. The area borders Israel on the north and east, and entry into Israel is possible only at crossings under its control. Access to and from the Gaza Strip by sea, to the west, and by air, is under Israel’s exclusive control.

      Rafah Crossing, on the other hand, is located on the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. Initially, it was widely assumed that the disengagement had also ended Israel’s control of this crossing, and that free passage would now be possible. It quickly became clear that matters were more complicated.

      Following the disengagement, Rafah Crossing was closed for three months. In November 2005, the Crossings Agreement was signed by Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The agreement established that the crossing would be operated by the Palestinian Authority, under monitoring of the European Union and remote monitoring by Israeli security personnel. The agreement enabled Gazans holding Palestinian identity cards to cross. For seven months, the crossing operated in an orderly manner, and some 1,320 persons crossed daily.

      On 25 June 2006, following the abduction of the soldier Gilad Shalit, Israel decided to close the crossing. It informed the European monitors that the crossing was closed for security reasons, and ceased to carry out its part of the agreement. Israel allowed the crossing to be opened only in isolated cases, and without giving advance notice. From then until June 2007, the crossing was closed for 265 days.

      After Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, Israel announced the freezing of the Crossings Agreement. The Palestinian force that operated the crossing on behalf of the Palestinian Authority was unable to reach the crossing due to Hamas’ control of the Gaza Strip. Israel objected to opening the crossing on the grounds that it was unable to monitor the persons passing through it, and Egypt closed the border since it was impossible to implement the Crossing Agreement. The European force also stopped its monitoring activities due to the European Union’s refusal to cooperate with Hamas. As a result, since June 2007, the crossing has not been opened in accordance with the Crossings Agreement. Egypt, which can open the crossing on its side, generally refrains from doing so, thereby becoming a partner in Israel’s siege policy.

      http://www.btselem.org/gaza_strip/rafah_crossing

      • mondonut
        October 15, 2012, 4:18 pm

        andrew r says: Once again, an attempt to defend Israel leaves out a few inconvenient facts:
        ======================================
        I did not leave them out. They are not relevant. As I stated, these students can cross into Egypt and from there travel wherever they wish and are allowed. Nothing you have stated contradicts this, including conditions on the ground from 5 years ago.

      • Annie Robbins
        October 15, 2012, 5:03 pm

        these students can cross into Egypt and from there travel wherever they wish

        except their own universities in the west bank!

      • Mndwss
        October 15, 2012, 9:26 pm

        “these students can cross into Egypt and from there travel wherever they wish”

        Maybe they can crawl into Egypt from tunnels, but how can stateless people get a visa to anywhere?

        Do they get a Nansen passport when they come to Egypt?

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nansen_passport

        “I did not leave them out. They are not relevant. As I stated, these students can cross into Egypt and from there travel wherever they wish and are allowed.”

        Can they go to Egypt and then go to Israel to study?

        Are they allowed to do that?

      • andrew r
        October 16, 2012, 1:19 am

        The agreement enabled Gazans holding Palestinian identity cards to cross. For seven months, the crossing operated in an orderly manner, and some 1,320 persons crossed daily.

        On 25 June 2006, following the abduction of the soldier Gilad Shalit, Israel decided to close the crossing.

        Does it not sound to you like Israel had the last word on anyone leaving Gaza even through Rafah at that time? Also, it seems pretty stupid to blame Egypt for not opening the Rafah crossing as a way to absolve Israel of not opening the crossings it directly controls. We also need to keep in mind that not permitting Gazans to enter Israel is an apartheid policy and that doesn’t change just because Egypt controls one side of Gaza.

      • Ellen
        October 16, 2012, 8:18 am

        Mondonut, your post and point is irrelevant to the discussion. The point is that the US State Department cancelled it’s scholarship program. The claim that it is because Israel will not let them travel. That is what is true.

        1. Israel forbids free travel
        and

        2. the US withdrew the program using that as it’s reasoning.

        All your blah blah about the Egyptian border crossing is meaningless to this discussion.

      • talknic
        October 16, 2012, 11:54 am

        mondonut October 15, 2012 at 4:18 pm … opens yapper again … treads in elephant sh*te again … puts foot in mouth … again

        “They are not relevant. As I stated, these students can cross into Egypt and from there travel wherever they wish and are allowed. “

        “… the American consulate in Jerusalem said it decided not to grant the scholarships over the summer after Israel said it would not permit the students to travel .

      • mondonut
        October 16, 2012, 8:38 pm

        talknic says: “… the American consulate in Jerusalem said it decided not to grant the scholarships over the summer after Israel said it would not permit the students to travel .
        ==============================
        For someone who is so anally focused on minutia you seem to have missed the obvious fact that your chosen quote is from the AP stringer who wrote the article, and not from the American consulate.

      • mondonut
        October 16, 2012, 8:45 pm

        Ellen says: 1. Israel forbids free travel and 2. the US withdrew the program using that as it’s reasoning.
        =======================================
        Israel has no say over “free travel”. They do however have a say over entry into the West Bank, and according to the very same quoted article they allow 5000 humanitarian cases every month.

        BTW, every country on the planet exercises its right to deny entry into territory that it controls. Every single one. You have no idea what free travel means.

    • Kris
      October 15, 2012, 3:52 pm

      Israel won’t let these students from Gaza travel to the West Bank to attend colleges. Excerpt from the article on huffingtonpost.com, below. Just another example of Israel’s policy of casual, pointless cruelty toward the Palestinians, and the U.S. government’s witless groveling to Israel.

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20121015/ml-palestinians-stranded-students/
      “Under Israeli pressure, U.S. officials have quietly canceled a two-year-old scholarship program for students in the Gaza Strip, undercutting one of the few American outreach programs to people in the Hamas-ruled territory. The program now faces an uncertain future, just two years after being launched with great fanfare by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton during a visit to the region.

      “The program offers about 30 scholarships to promising but financially challenged Palestinian high school seniors from Gaza and the West Bank to study in local Palestinian universities.

      “It is a rare opportunity for gifted students in Gaza, which has been constrained by an Israeli blockade since Hamas seized power five years ago. The blockade has made it harder for Palestinians to travel abroad. Both Israel and the U.S. consider Hamas a terrorist group because of its hundreds of attacks against Israelis, including suicide bombings, and frequent rocket attacks from Gaza.

      “After allowing the scholarship program to proceed in 2010, Israel this year refused to give permits for the Gaza students to travel to the West Bank. Hamas’ rival, the Western-backed Palestinian Authority, governs the West Bank.”

      • RoHa
        October 15, 2012, 8:34 pm

        “Israel’s policy of casual, pointless cruelty toward the Palestinians”

        Casual? Pointless?

        To me it looks like part of a deliberate, planned, policy to keep Palestinians uneducated and as close to harmless as possible.

      • Kris
        October 15, 2012, 10:36 pm

        RoHa: “To me it looks like part of a deliberate, planned, policy to keep Palestinians uneducated and as close to harmless as possible.”

        You’re right, of course.

  4. Kris
    October 15, 2012, 5:10 pm

    It’s time to get on board with an academic boycott of Israeli institutions. Ali Abunimah, http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/under-israeli-pressure-us-cancels-gaza-scholarships-showing-need-academic-boycott sums it up very well:

    “It is in this context, where Israel thwarts Palestinian education from the earliest age through university, that Palestinian civil society’s calls for the boycott of Israeli academic institutions must be seen.

    “Next time you hear someone oppose the academic boycott of Israeli institutions that are complicit in Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people on the grounds that it somehow limits “academic freedom,” ask that person what their position is on Israel’s ongoing blockade of Palestinian education. And more importantly, ask them what they are doing about it.”

    • freespeechlover
      October 15, 2012, 6:44 pm

      Abunimah’s point is crucial. Some people and groups who have opposed an academic boycott of Israeli institutions have said virtually NOTHING over the years about Israel’s denial of academic freedom to Palestinians. They have stood up for Palestinian academic or educational freedom, have not commented on the fact that Israel’s occupation forecloses the possibilities of Palestinians even claiming “rights” to begin with, let alone academic freedom.

  5. Egbert
    October 15, 2012, 5:41 pm

    In Teh Evul Iran (TM), Iranian Jews were free to travel to Israel and return (don’t know about now given the US medieval siege). They would travel to Germany (typically) on their Iranian passport, to Israel and back using their Israeli passport, and return from Germany using their Iranian passport. Compare these vicious restrictions placed on Iranian Jews with the luxurious freedoms enjoyed by Israeli Palestinians living in the The One And Only True Democracy In The Whole Middle East (TM) (pat. pend.)

  6. talknic
    October 16, 2012, 3:34 am

    “They would travel to Germany (typically) on their Iranian passport, to Israel and back using their Israeli passport, and return from Germany using their Iranian passport. “

    Just out of interest …. does Iran allow dual citizenship?

  7. eGuard
    October 16, 2012, 4:46 am

    Meanwhile in Afghanistan: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-19957402

    I felt hurt on opening my wardrobe and seeing my uniform, school bag and geometry box. Boys’ schools are opening tomorrow, but the Taliban have banned girls’ education Malala Yousafzai.

    Hey, Israel, if you don’t want us to apply “double standards”, prepare for the drones.

  8. piotr
    October 16, 2012, 5:10 am

    Mondonut:

    Israel cannot prevent Gaza students from travelling, they can cross into Egypt and from there go to any country that permits their entry. Israel can however deny entry into both Israel and the West Bank. Not “allowing travel” and denying entry are entirely different subjects.

    piotr:

    Clearly, American government made a decision here, namely, failure to insist that Israel issues the permissions to study in West Bank. This perhaps the most insidious aspect of Israeli apartheid: separating “West Bankers” from “Gazans” by deportations and denial of travel permits. This also includes reclassifying “undeserving” “West Bankers” to the lesser status of “Gazans”.

  9. Ellen
    October 16, 2012, 8:23 am

    Education and exposure to the outside world is a very dangerous thing for insecure controlling states/institutions/organizations.

    Isolating your subjects and or making them fearful of the “other” is the first rule of mind control.

    At this rate, places like Wahhabi Saudi Arabia will be more open and educated societies than Israel or a Hamas-controlled Gaza.

  10. Kathleen
    October 16, 2012, 12:21 pm

    More evidence of the apartheid state of Israel.
    Bring those students to the U.S. to study Hillary.

    • Bumblebye
      October 16, 2012, 2:00 pm

      Perhaps they are rather small scholarships, Kathleen. Perhaps the students would have planned to live with relatives they’d only had contact with thru email, phone and letters for most of their lives. Maybe they wanted to be able to explore more of their own country, rather than travel abroad. Israel, as per usual, pulls the plug on their dreams.

  11. ritzl
    October 17, 2012, 10:58 am

    In a related development: Israel withholds SAT tests from Palestinians.

    http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2012/10/16/israel-sat-oped/
    (via Angry Arab)

    • Ellen
      October 17, 2012, 1:09 pm

      From the above report:

      Many Palestinians go on to the best universities across the United States each year, including Harvard. Recently, Harvard College admitted three individuals from RFS alone in one year. After graduating from college, many RFS graduates and their peers from other Palestinian schools return to Palestine because of the strong connection we feel to our homeland. We are eager to use the knowledge and skills we have gained abroad to help build a brighter future for the coming generations.

      This is EXACTLY what is so frightening for the Zionist enterprise because it will become more difficult to shut Palestinians out and to demonize them to the world.

      Once, I witnessed the fear in the eyes of a US Zionist government official when the subject of an increasingly educated Palestinian population came up at an event.

      • ritzl
        October 17, 2012, 8:02 pm

        Great point, Ellen.

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