Petition Calls for Full Freedom of Movement for Academics Working at Harried Palestinian Universities

A worldwide petition condemning Israel’s harassment of Palestinian universities has been launched on the internet by Academia for Equality, an Israeli left-wing organization with a membership of more than 500 university and college lecturers and professors.

The campus of Birzeit University near Ramallah in the West Bank

The campus of Birzeit University near Ramallah in the West Bank (Photo: Birzeit University)

Below is the text of the petition which will be forwarded to the following Israeli officials: Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, Chief Military Advocate General Sharon Afek, and the military’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT).

“We, the undersigned, members of the international academic community, demand that the Israeli authorities immediately cease to restrict international academics from working at Palestinian Universities and other academic institutions.

“Over the last three years, the Israeli authorities have further undermined the ability of international academic personnel to work at Palestinian universities. Among other unlawful practices, the Israeli authorities have refused to issue work permits, have set additional, unreasonable conditions for granting visas to visiting faculty, and have made transit through Ben-Gurion Airport conditional on extremely high guarantees. These practices have already had dramatic consequences: some faculty members have had to leave before the end of the academic year, whereas others are in a legal limbo, stranded in the West Bank and unable to leave in the absence of assurances that they would be allowed to return. At Birzeit University alone, twelve departments or affiliated institutions now face losing faculty members in the coming academic year, including the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music.

“Both international law and the principle of academic freedom make Israeli practices wholly unacceptable. The current practices not only deprive Palestinian society of a key resource for its growth in the short term, but will have long-term detrimental effects on it.

“As academic professionals, we demand that this discriminatory policy ceases immediately. The working conditions of international academic staff in Palestinian universities should be identical to those of their counterparts in Israeli universities, and in line with international norms.”