Two weeks ago, the Israeli army blew up Al-Israa University in southern Gaza City. In December, the Islamic University’s Faculty of Medicine was destroyed in a similar manner. These are just two examples of how Israel is trying to dismantle the Palestinian education system, according to academics.
That is why it is called ‘education’. “You have to situate these attacks within a longer history,” says Professor Koen Bogaert of the Conflict and Development department at Ghent University, one of the authors of the letter. “Academics are constantly being thwarted in Gaza and the West Bank. We have a partnership with Birzeit University in the West Bank. Well, there are constant raids there, with soldiers invading university buildings.”
The letter is addressed to the Flemish Interuniversity Council (VLIR), which brings together all universities. The academics put four demands on the table. First and foremost, they ask that VLIR “clearly and expressly condemns the deliberate destruction of Palestinian educational institutions and the continued discrimination against Palestinian students and colleagues.”
Secondly, money must be made available to accommodate Palestinian academics and students. In addition, the academics demand that Flemish universities stop all partnerships with Israeli knowledge institutions, as well as with public and private partners. Finally, they ask for the establishment of an inter-university working group on ‘education’.
“The publication of the findings of this working group can also benefit the debate on educide with our European partners and also inform our democratic representatives at the Belgian and European level when they wish to raise the issue of educide at their respective policy levels.”