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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Academics and university presidents should protest the government's restrictions on Palestinian university students while Israel fights against a proposed academic boycott by British universities, a human rights organization said Sunday.
Since the beginning of the second intifada in September 2000, the IDF has prohibited students from the Gaza Strip from studying in the West Bank and Palestinian students from studying in Israel.
"At a time when we are trying to prevent an academic boycott of Israel, Israel itself is pursuing a policy that continues to sweepingly deny the right of education and academic freedom of Palestinian students," wrote Prof. Kenneth Mann of Tel Aviv University. Mann is chairman of the advisory council of Gisha, the Legal Center for Freedom of Movement.
A delegation of Israeli academics recently flew to Britain to lobby against a motion by the British Union of Universities and Colleges to boycott Israeli institutions of higher education.
Gisha drafted the letter protesting the restrictions, attorney Sari Bashi, Gisha's director-general, told The Jerusalem Post. She said each of the academics was asked to sign the letter, and Prof. Miriam Schlesinger of Bar-Ilan University, Prof. Dafna Vulcan of Haifa University and Prof. Tzvi Hacohen, head of the union of senior staff members of all universities, agreed.
Bashi said Technion Institute of Technology President Yitzhak Apeloig and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev President Rivka Carmi have approved the letter. It has been signed by A.B. Yehoshua, David Grossman, Amos Oz, Natan Zach, Ariel Hirschfeld, Yitzhak Laor and Aggi Mishol, she said.
Meanwhile, the state on Sunday asked the High Court of Justice for another postponement of the deadline for submitting a list of criteria for allowing Palestinians to study in Israel. Gisha had filed a petition calling on the court to allow a Palestinian doctoral student in chemistry, Sawsan Salameh, to study at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem since there is no school in the West Bank that grants doctorates in chemistry. The petition was filed on October 6, 2001.
Gisha warned that the state's repeated delays will jeopardize the ability of Palestinian students to be enrolled in Israeli universities for the coming academic year.
In the case of Palestinians studying in Israel, all the university presidents except Bar-Ilan's supported the move, as long as the students met academic requirements.
The court is also hearing a petition filed by Gisha on behalf of 10 occupational therapy students from Gaza who were prohibited from studying in the West Bank, even though there are no schools for that specialization in Gaza.