8 December, 2008
BRITISH COMMITTEE FOR THE UNIVERSITIES OF PALESTINE (BRICUP)
PRESS RELEASE – For immediate release
Two Jewish academics from the UK, Emeritus Professor Jonathan Rosenhead and Research Fellow Mike Cushman, both from the Department of Management at the London School of Economics, have joined the latest ‘Free Gaza’ boat in an attempt to enable Palestinian university students to pursue their studies abroad.
The ‘Dignity’ sailed from Larnaca, Cyprus at 23.40 local time, Monday December 8, in an effort to break Israel’s 19-month blockade of Gaza and bring out 16 students who have places to study abroad. There are currently some 1700 students in Gaza who have been granted places at universities abroad – often with prestigious scholarships such as the Fulbright or Ford Foundation awards – but whom the Israeli authorities have prevented from leaving Gaza.
Higher education opportunities are extremely limited in Gaza. Many vital disciplines, including speech therapy, dentistry and physical therapy are not taught in Gaza, and there is no opportunity for doctoral study either in Gaza or in the West Bank. Study abroad is the only alternative for Palestinian students, yet this alternative is being denied them by the Israeli authorities.
Rosenhead and Cushman are members of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP), which advocates boycotting Israeli academic institutions as long as they are complicit in Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian and other Arab territory. BRICUP recently held a packed meeting at SOAS where Israeli academic Prof. Ilan Pappe described the Israeli siege of Gaza as “slow genocide”.
Now they have joined those taking direct action to enable Palestinian students to continue their academic and professional training. Prof. Rosenhead said: “Our government has failed to uphold international law and defend the human rights of the Palestinians, including the right to study and the right to teach. On the 60th anniversary of the International Declaration of Human Rights, we are proud to join the ‘Dignity’ on its fourth blockade-breaking trip to Gaza. We hope that by the end of this week we will have liberated these Palestinian students, in accordance with international law, and enabled them to take up the places awarded them by universities around the world in recognition of their academic merit.”
Mr. Cushman said: “As academics we are particularly pleased to be travelling on the Dignity on this mission to enable at least some of the hundreds of students trapped in Gaza by the Israeli siege to get out and take up their places at universities round the world. This siege is an affront to any idea of academic freedom or human rights. We, working for a British university, have the freedom to teach and study. This must be a universal right, not at the discretion of an occupying power. How can anyone justify preventing young people from fulfilling their potential and learning how to serve their community more fully?”
This third trip by the ‘Dignity’ is expected to take 14 hours, arriving in Gaza on Tuesday 9th December at 13.30 local time (11.30 GMT).
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Notes to editors
1. The ‘Dignity’ is at sea right now. You can try ringing Mike Cushman on board the ‘Dignity’ on +44 773 670 5294, but it may be out of range.
2. BRICUP contact in the UK: Sue Blackwell, 0792 995 3893.
3. Relevant websites for further information:
http://www.letkhaledstudy.co.uk/ (for info on trapped Palestinian students in Gaza)
http://www.freegaza.org/ (Free Gaza boats campaign) http://www.freegaza.org/index.php?module=latest_news&id=41cadce39691c2458068c725561a1e25&offset= (Free Gaza movement’s own press release)
www.bricup.org.uk (academic & cultural boycott of Israel – UK) www.pacbi.org (academic & cultural boycott of Israel – Palestine)