Israeli attacks on Al Quds University give new meaning to ‘academic freedom’

Israel/Palestine
on 13 Comments

Close to 13,000 Palestinian and international students go through at least one of 600 checkpoints in the West Bank to attend Al Quds University, the only Arab University in East Jerusalem. Established in 1984, the Abu Dis campus now houses 14 academic faculties, and has more than 21 centers and institutes, including the critically acclaimed Abu Jihad Museum for Prisoner Movement Affairs. Besides having a museum dedicated to Palestinian political prisoners on campus, Al Quds University is unique for another controversial reason: the campus community is under constant threat due to methodical and ideologically-based attacks by the Israeli military.

During 2012, 2013 and 2014, the total number of attacks on Al-Quds University main campus was 31. During these attacks 2473 people were injured, 5121 teargas canisters and bullets were shot, and 276 people were called by the Israeli intelligence for investigation.

Kamilla Moore at the Al Quds University prisoner museum.

Kamilah Moore at Al Quds University’s Abu Jihad Museum for Prisoner Movement Affairs.

During the 2013-2014 academic year, 640 lectures were cancelled. Palestinian Red Crescent volunteers treated over 830 students for tear gas suffocation injuries through a service facilitated and partly funded by the university’s Student Affairs Office. 1000 students cancelled their registration attendance and over 12,000 students evacuated from the university 3 times throughout the year due to Israeli state-inflicted violence on the campus.

The latest mass-scale attack occurred on September 7th, 2014 when close to 70 Israeli soldiers surrounded the university with 15 military trucks in an attempt to provoke, agitate, and instill fear in the student body, staff, faculty, and surrounding community.

During the 2013-2014 academic year, 60 students were detained and arrested for their political affiliation and activities inside the university. 15 students were arrested on their way to class (on University street). 3 students were arrested at flying (temporary) checkpoints and 9 students were taken into custody to be held in administrative detention indefinitely. To date, over 190 Al Quds University students have been detained in administrative detention indefinitely and some have been detained for up to 13 years, with the majority being held with no official charges.

There has been tense debate on American college campuses in the last few years about academic freedom, specifically concerning the right of professors, students, and various other members of campus communities to directly speak in favor of or against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. However, whereas academia in the United States is largely engaging in a war of rhetoric, academia at Al Quds University is facing a war of social and academic disruption, which has severely limited, and in some cases, completely ended the academic pursuit for hundreds, if not thousands of people, since the university’s inception.

Kamilah Moore was a delegate on the third Interfaith Peace-Builders African Heritage delegation.  The African Heritage Delegation program seeks to connect US African American leaders, media-makers and organizers with communities of color in Palestine/Israel to identify common issues and forge relationships. To learn more about Interfaith Peace-Builders see here.

About Kamilah Moore

Kamilah Moore is a recent graduate of UCLA and an aspiring human rights lawyer. She is currently an elementary school teacher in Los Angeles, CA and engages in transnational human rights activism work.

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13 Responses

  1. just
    November 17, 2014, 2:25 pm

    denying people their right to an education and a future is monstrous.

    it’s all part of Israel’s ‘plan’. academics all over the world should be acting on this immediately.

    thank you for this, Kamilah– good luck with your work!

  2. Horizontal
    November 17, 2014, 2:46 pm

    The latest mass-scale attack occurred on September 7th, 2014 when close to 70 Israeli soldiers surrounded the university with 15 military trucks in an attempt to provoke, agitate, and instill fear in the student body, staff, faculty, and surrounding community.

    I’m curious why this happened on this particular date. Were there protests nearby that the soldiers were afraid that the students might join, or was it just a more random act of thuggery?

    Agree with just above — this is something that academics everywhere should be aware of and support by boycotting anything coming out of Israeli academia. Looking the other way is not an option.

    Stay safe!

  3. mondonut
    November 17, 2014, 6:19 pm

    What a remarkably context free story. Peaceful hacky-sack and Frisbee playing students are stormed by evil Zionists for absolutely no reason at all.

    Totally believable.

    • just
      November 17, 2014, 7:46 pm

      it is!

      • just
        November 17, 2014, 7:47 pm

        one last thing…….there’s plenty of context.

    • Mooser
      November 18, 2014, 12:34 am

      “are stormed by evil Zionists for absolutely no reason at all.”

      Happens all the time, schools, hospitals, orphanages, religious facilities. Are you suffering from Ziocaine Syndrome induced amnesia? Protective Edge was just a few months ago.
      You really don’t want to bring up attacks by Zionists “for absolutely no reason at all” for a while yet.

    • eljay
      November 18, 2014, 7:47 am

      >> mondonuteee: Peaceful hacky-sack and Frisbee playing students are stormed by evil Zionists for absolutely no reason at all.

      The fact that the Zionists are evil seems reason enough.

    • catporn
      November 18, 2014, 8:01 am

      You make a good point mondonut, there’s no way Israeli authorities would undermine or disregard someone’s civil liberties on the sole basis that they were Palestinian, it just makes no sense.
      I heard another one of these ludicrous stories about a mother taking her 4 year old daughter out of Gaza at the Erez crossing to a hospital in Israel to see a cancer specialist, she claimed to have been kept waiting by those kind soldiers while the child was in severe pain for 8 hours, even though she had the correct permit. And this wasn’t the first time, 6 weeks earlier they’d come to the border and waited 2 hours before being told the permit had been revoked. She tried to say they did it out of spite or cruelty or just because they could.
      It’s fanciful, absurd, where do people get these notions? Besides, even if it did happen I know damn well there was a good reason, we’re just unaware of the ‘context’.

      • Mooser
        November 18, 2014, 12:31 pm

        Gee, I thought “Mondonut” would come back with links to reports on all the terror run out of the University. But I guess he forgot.

      • just
        November 18, 2014, 2:11 pm

        it was the familiar ‘hit and run’, Mooser.

        lol!

  4. JWalters
    November 17, 2014, 7:33 pm

    The problem with universities is that they promote facts and rational analysis. Facts and rationality are a serious problem for war profiteers and religious supremacists, who naturally try to suppress them. As one becomes acquainted with the facts, and thinks rationally about them, it’s easy to understand why.

    http://warprofiteerstory.blogspot.com

  5. Houready1958
    March 21, 2015, 7:46 am

    Good efforts…

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