Trending Topics:

Israeli college with gov’t backing uses keffiyeh to promote itself as a global brand

on 5 Comments


Ramallah Friends School, where Nour Joudah taught until the Israeli version of BDS sanctioned her, used to be an international school until 1967, when Israel took control of the West Bank and made it difficult for international students to attend.  Even so, it has preserved its international outlook.  The students complete a rigorous International Baccalaureate (IB) degree in English in their last two years.

The United World Colleges is an umbrella organization encompassing 12 schools around the world, including Waterford Kamhlaba in Swaziland, where my son attended for two years, and where many children of African National Congress leaders went to escape apartheid.  All UWC schools also offer the International Baccalaureate curriculum. 


So when I first learned about the Joudah affair, I immediately thought how perfect a match Ramallah Friends School would be for the UWC program.  A few weeks later, I was shocked to learn from some UWC alumni that an Israeli school, the Eastern Mediterranean United World College (EMUWC), has applied for membership in UWC. 

The alums have circulated a petition urging UWC’s International Board to reject the EMUWC application. From that petition:

As the citizens of the world that UWC has taught us to be, we are distressed that the UWC movement should choose to accredit a school which will serve to perturb, rather than promote, a just peace settlement in the region; to conceal the Israeli policies of aggression and violent dispossession, rather than work for their immediate cessation. The EMUWC project, funded partially by the Israeli government and partially by political foundations, is intended to divert attention from Israeli violations of international law which take place daily only twenty kilometers from the planned site of the school. The initiative aims to improve Israel’s image in the world through its association with the UWC movement as part of a larger effort to re-brand Israel, and shields Israel’s continued negligence of its obligations under international law.  

     Many of us have been at college when our Palestinian colleagues’ families and friends came under attack; when their relatives were killed, maimed, arrested, prevented from accessing their land or reaching educational and health institutions, and discriminated in their own country as citizens of Israel. We are deeply disturbed that our UWC values will be used as a means to continue these atrocities, as an excuse to ignore the pleas from the international community to solve what our President, Mr. Nelson Mandela, has called “the greatest moral issue of our times.”

I’ve pasted the picture from EMUWC’s brochure at the top, but I haven’t been able to learn much substantial about the school.  Maybe its leaders are people of good will. But it says it’s getting support from the Israeli Ministry of Education, and in any case international recognition of a school in Israel would play into Israel’s campaign to legitimize itself, regardless of how many keffiyehs they include in their promotional literature.


George Smith

I'm a retired biology professor and a member of Mid-Missourians for Justice in Palestine as well as Jewish Voice For Peace. I'm not religious or Jewish by birth. But my wife is Jewish and our sons are bar-mitzvahed, and I'm very engaged with Jewish culture and politics.

Other posts by .

Posted In:

5 Responses

  1. DICKERSON3870 on April 20, 2013, 5:14 pm

    RE: “I’ve pasted the picture from EMUWC’s brochure at the top… [I]t says it’s getting support from the Israeli Ministry of Education . . .” ~ by George Smith

    REGARDING THE ISRAELI MINISTRY OF EDUCATION, SEE: “School reprimanded by Education Minister for trip to human rights march”, By Yossi Gurvitz, 972 Magazine, 12/31/11
    The Ministry of Education reprimands a school for sending its pupils to the Human Rights March

    [EXCERPTS] The Ministry of Education sent a reprimand to the principal of the ‘Ar’ara high school, which sent its pupils to the Human Rights March held earlier this month. The letter sent by the ministry complained, inter alia, that “the pupils were carrying signs against racism, house demolitions, etc., which is contrary to the Director of the Ministry’s communiqué.” The ministry further promised an investigation.
    In the school’s reply, the teachers quoted Minister of Education Gideon Sa’ar’s communiqué on the International Human Rights Day: “It is your duty as educators, who lead the pupils, to educate them that aside from the protection and defense of human rights, they are expected to show personal, social, civil and national involvement and responsibility. . .
    . . . The ‘Ar’ara teachers, alas, suffer from terminal naiveté. They should have known what Jesus knew about hypocrites like Gideon Sa’ar: That they should be judged according to the rule “Do as they say, not as they do.” Sa’ar’s actions – this reprimand – exhibit his real intentions much more than an official saccharine communiqué.
    Furthermore, when the teacher says that her pupils shouted “Arabs and Jews love each other” – Doesn’t she realizes this is precisely what scares people like Sa’ar? Gideon Sa’ar does a masterful job at selling himself to the public as a relatively liberal education minister, and it must be said that unlike the previous Likud minister, Limor “the slapper” Livnat, he did not spend his youth in rioting in theaters which showed plays he did not like.
    But Sa’ar, it must be remembered, is first and foremost Im Tirzu’s education minister; he spoke at their convention last year, decrying the description of “values education” as indoctrination and promising much more of it. He is the minister under whom the ministry disqualified a book for pupils about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights because it contains two articles the ministry, and the minister, can’t live with: The right of every person to convert to another religion and the right of every person to emigrate to another country.
    At the same time, Sa’ar ratcheted up the indoctrination of pupils (oh, sorry, I meant “values education”) to a whole new level: He now forces secular students to study Masechet Avot, that concentrated volume of Jewish ignorance and credulity, which contains such pearls as “he who has many wives, will also have plenty of witchcraft,” and “Don’t speak too often with a woman; This is meant at a man’s wife, and even more so at his friend’s wife; And hence the sages have said: ‘Anyone who speaks too often with a woman, does evil to himself, and abandons the study of the Torah, and will end up in hell.’” No doubt this will help Israel’s female pupils – a marginal minority of 51% – feel better about their place in society. Sa’ar is also the minister who made it a duty for every pupil to visit Hebron. And we’re not \talking about some Breaking the Silence tour: No, this is an attempt at indoctrinating (err, sorry, “providing values education”) the pupils into believing that Israel must continue to rule Hebron. . .


    • DICKERSON3870 on April 20, 2013, 5:28 pm

      P.S. ALSO REGARDING THE ISRAELI MINISTRY OF EDUCATION, SEE: “How the Israeli right conspired to shut down ‘lefty’ department at BGU”, By B.N.*, 972 Magazine, 1o/24/12
      The crackdown on Ben-Gurion University’s Department of Politics and Government may seem unprecedented, but a closer look reveals an ongoing campaign to challenge academic freedom in the university and beyond.

      [EXCERPTS] While the attacks on the Department of Politics and Government of Ben-Gurion University are being viewed by many as an unprecedented measure, infringements of academic freedom in Israeli-controlled areas are common. They are often part of the regime of military occupation in the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza. . .
      . . . In Israel proper, “threats to students’ freedom to organize politically-oriented activities on university premises and attacks on faculty who voice their criticism of government policies” are a persistent problem.

      • The Case of Ben Gurion University: The irregular international review process

      Infringements of academic freedom expanded recently when a committee of the government’s Council for Higher Education (CHE) threatened to close the Department of Politics and Government at Ben-Gurion University. . .
      . . . The CHE is headed by Israel’s minister of education, Gideon Sa’ar
      , who supported Im Tirtzu and endorsed its campus activity in 2010. . .
      . . . In 2002, CHE authorized the department’s organization as an interdisciplinary unit. However, the report criticized this interdisciplinary focus and demanded that the department “corrects its current weaknesses in its core discipline of political science in terms of number of faculty, curriculum, and research.”
      Most authors of the report were also “concerned that the study of politics as a scientific discipline may be impeded by such strong emphasis on political activism.” However, a minority opinion by Professor Galia Golan questioned the unexplained linkage of disciplinary issues with the emphasis on political activism.
      The report emphasized the importance of ensuring “a balance of views in the curriculum and the classroom” so that “students can take a critical perspective” even though it stated that undergraduate students “seemed to be able to express different views” from those of faculty members, and that graduate students said that they “were encouraged to be critical even of the lecturers.” In her minority opinion, Golan wrote that she was “not certain who or how a ‘balance’ might be determined,” and that “such a demand runs directly counter to the principle of academic freedom, a basic principle of university education.” The committee’s criticism of faculty members’ political views undermines the standards of academic reviews and suggests that the committee’s agenda was at least partially tainted by irrelevant political concerns. . .

      • The recommendation

      The report stated that if the department fails to introduce curricular changes and hire new faculty members in “core” areas of political science, then, “as a last resort, Ben Gurion University should consider closing the Department of Politics and Government.” . . .
      . . . Israel has fought calls for boycotting Israeli academic institutions by praising its own commitment to academic freedom. However, Israel’s education minister Gideon Saar (ex officio chair of the CHE) recently called for the dismissal of Professor Neve Gordon, a member of the department, because of
      Gordon’s op-ed that supported the boycott. Saar’s statement increases the impression that this affair has been politically motivated and has little to do with academic merit.
      Moreover, if the Israeli Council for Higher Education shuts the department down or alternately fires any of its members, this can only strengthen international calls for severing ties with Israel’s academic establishment.

      *The author, who wishes to remain anonymous, is a faculty member in one of Israel’s universities.

      SOURCE –

    • DICKERSON3870 on April 20, 2013, 6:44 pm

      P.P.S. ALSO REGARDING THE ISRAELI MINISTRY OF EDUCATION, SEE: “Fierce Reaction Greets Study of Alleged Hate in Palestinian Textbooks”, By Naomi Zeveloff and Nathan Jeffay,, 2/15/13

      [EXCERPTS] A controversial in-depth study that clears Palestinian Authority school textbooks of the charge that they demonize Jews and Israelis has become an orphan, virtually upon its release. . .
      . . . According to [Yale University psychiatry professor Bruce] Wexler, the fury over the report is a recent development. Last May, he said, the study received unanimous support from its 17-member scientific advisory panel, an international group of education experts, who drafted and signed a document approving both the methodology and the findings. But now, three members of the panel have publicly denounced the project.
      Those involved in the project attribute much of the response to it to Israeli government officials, who have led the charge against the report, denouncing it as “misleading,” “highly distorted” and ”biased, unprofessional and significantly lacking in objectivity.”
      The study, which looked at textbooks used by both Israelis and Palestinians, found that, with some exceptions on both sides, neither side’s books dehumanize the other . . . But the study also found that books used in schools on both sides distort history and use facts selectively to favor their own respective narratives, at a significant cost to building peace.
      The Palestinians’ alleged demonization of Jews and Israel in school textbooks has been a long-standing grievance for pro-Israel advocates. It is perhaps unsurprising, then, that the Palestinians have voiced satisfaction with the study’s findings. But on the Israeli and Jewish side, protests reached a fever pitch.
      One adviser to the study warned Wexler, who is Jewish, that he was in danger of becoming “another Goldstone,”
      a reference to Richard Goldstone, the South African Jewish jurist who became a pariah among many fellow Jews for chairing a United Nations report that criticized Israeli military actions in Gaza.
      . . . The harshest criticism, however, has come from the Israeli government. In a press release issued before the study went public, the Ministry of Education attacked the very concept of examining both sides’ textbooks in tandem. “The attempt to create a parallel between the Israeli education system and the Palestinian education system is completely unfounded and lacks any basis in reality,” the document read.
      The statement said that the study’s findings legitimated the government’s decision not to participate in the research.
      According to both Wexler and a source connected to the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land, it was the Israeli government’s fierce response that forced the Chief Rabbinate, a member of the council, to walk away from the study. The Council source claimed that Yossi Kuperwasser, director general of the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs, “went ballistic” when he heard the findings of the study and pressured the rabbinate to “pull back.”
      The source further claimed that Kuperwasser pushed the rabbinate to “character assassinate” the authors of the study in a statement, but that the rabbinate did not agree to this. . .

      SOURCE –

      P.P.P.S. ALSO SEE: “You could become ‘another Goldstone’ — friendly warning to Yale prof whose study cleared Palestinian textbooks of demonization charge”, By Philip Weiss, Mondoweiss, 2/08/13
      LINK –

  2. Taxi on April 21, 2013, 1:51 am

    Disgustingly waxy lying poster! A clear case of kaffieh abuse!

    “You can take my falafel and hummus, but don’t f***ing touch my keffiyeh,” – Shadia Mansour:

  3. Cliff on April 21, 2013, 6:17 am

    As per the Word Union of Jewish Student’s Hasbara Handbook:

Leave a Reply