Open Zion

10.19.12

They Don't Need No Education

Between Israel regulating the caloric intake of blockaded Palestinians and the U.S. quietly canceling scholarships for Palestinian students at Israel's request, there's been a lot of attention lately on how the occupation is adversely affecting Palestinians in Gaza. We shouldn't, however, lose sight on the immediate impact of the occupation on the lives of their countrymen in the West Bank. Michael Oren on Monday told a Brooklyn synagogue, “In the last four years, we've removed all but 10 checkpoints." But checkpoints ain't nearly the whole story.

Lena Awwad and Shatha Hussein, two Palestinian students at Harvard writing in their school newspaper, offer this stark reminder of that fact:

The October SAT exam was cancelled for students in the West Bank: The Israeli authorities held the exams sent by the College Board for weeks, not releasing the tests to AMIDEAST’s office in Ramallah.

AMIDEAST is the only testing agency in the West Bank, serving over three hundred thousand Palestinian students. Yet Israel controls the flow of goods and people in and out of the ever-shrinking Occupied Palestinian Territories. [...]

Many Palestinians go on to the best universities across the United States each year, including Harvard. Recently, Harvard College admitted three individuals from [Ramallah Friends School] alone in one year. After graduating from college, many RFS graduates and their peers from other Palestinian schools return to Palestine because of the strong connection we feel to our homeland. We are eager to use the knowledge and skills we have gained abroad to help build a brighter future for the coming generations.

One would think that educating Palestinians in American institues of higher learning—something that would mostly require SAT results—would be a priority for an Israeli government which has only tepidly endorsed a Palestinian state but enthusiastically throws its weight behind Palestinian nation-building, a so-called plan of economic peace. Yet, American scholarships for students in Gaza: banned. SAT tests needed to get West Bank students into American universities: held up. What sort of nation-building, what kind of economic peace are the Israelis trying to build in Palestine? (HT: Mondoweiss)