Jan 3, 2009 7:20 pm


January 3, 2009

California Scholars for Academic Freedom
Condemn Bombing of Gaza Educational Institutions

Sondra Hale, 310-836-5121 (UCLA) []
Rabab Abdulhadi, 914-882-3180 (AMED-SFSU) []
Sherna Berger Gluck, 310-455-1028 (CSULB) []
Jess Ghannam, 415-726-3951 (UCSF) []

CALIFORNIA SCHOLARS FOR ACADEMIC FREEDOM (CS4AF), a group of 100 scholars at 20 California institutions of higher learning, condemns in the strongest possible terms the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip that have targeted the Islamic University and other educational sites.

While we decry Israeli war crimes and violations of human rights, and condemn the massive Israeli bombardment of Gaza which has caused hundreds of deaths, as educators in California institutions of higher learning, we are especially appalled at the destruction of educational institutions and student casualties.

On December 27th, Human Rights Watch reported that an Israeli air-to-ground missile struck a group of students leaving the Gaza Training College, adjacent to the headquarters of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in downtown Gaza City, killing eight students and wounding 19 others. Two days later, on 29 December 2008, Israel bombed the Islamic University of Gaza, destroying the science laboratory block and destroying or damaging other blocks of buildings, including the library. Although Israel has claimed that the science laboratory facilities were used as “a research and development center for Hamas weapons,” this claim has been denied by officials of Gaza Islamic University, and according to the NY Times of 01/01/09 Israel has not produced any evidence for its claim.

These direct assaults on Palestinian students and educational institutions are only the latest chapter in Israel’s ongoing denial of the right to education guaranteed in international conventions. Since the first uprising in 1987, Israel has systematically frustrated or denied Palestinian students their right to study, not just in the Occupied Territories, but at universities abroad, as most recently demonstrated by the Israeli government's refusal to allow students awarded prestigious Fulbright fellowships to leave for the United States. University students living in Gaza have not been able to leave in order to attend universities throughout the world, let alone Birzeit University, and students in the West Bank itself have to negotiate roadblocks and checkpoints to get to their classes – often never making it.

The background to the current crisis is too complicated to detail in a press release. It is, however, important to note, first, that under international law, Israel is still an occupying power, maintaining control of Gaza’s borders, air and water space. It has completely isolated Gaza and wrought a humanitarian catastrophe, as noted by UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk. Second, the current bombing campaign by Israel constitutes collective punishment, which is a violation of international law. Third, HAMAS won the majority of seats to the Palestinian Legislative Council in the internationally acknowledged fair election of January, 2006.

As CALIFORNIA SCHOLARS FOR ACADEMIC FREEDOM, we will continue to play our mandated role to educate the international public about the right to education and the egregious violation of that right by the Israeli government. We will participate in campaigns aimed at exerting pressure on international authorities and the governments of Israel and the U.S. to implement an immediate cease-fire and begin preparations for an end to the blockade and the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.

We insist that Israel has the responsibility to ensure the right to education as mandated in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which Israel ratified in 1991. The undermining and disruption of Palestinian education as a result of the deliberate destruction of academic facilities constitutes a violation of a basic human right that will have long-term negative political, economic, and humanitarian ramifications for all people involved.

CALIFORNIA SCHOLARS FOR ACADEMIC FREEDOM is a one-year-old group of 100 academics who teach in 20 California institutions. The group formed as a response to various violations of academic freedom that were arising from both the post-9/11/2001 climate of civil rights violations and the increasing attacks on progressive educators by neo-conservatives. Many attacks were aimed at scholars of Arab, Muslim or Middle Eastern descent or at scholars researching and teaching about the Middle East, Arab and Muslim communities. Our goal of protecting California Scholars based mainly in institutions of higher education has grown broader in scope. We recognize that violations of academic freedom anywhere are threats to academic freedom everywhere.

For statements by other academicians see Neve Gordon and Jeff Halper’s “Targeting Islamic University: Where’s the Academic Outrage Over the Bombing of a University in Gaza?”


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ashle evans - 3/25/2011

I do condemn the bombing of GAZA and Israeli should Halt the aggression against GAZA.


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wm arenstein - 10/16/2009

For a bit of balance, see who this LeVine really is. Go here:

Jerry Meents - 1/6/2009

This statement is saying, because Hamas did not kill a lot of Israeli' with there rockets, it is ok.
But because more Palestinians than Israeli's are killed, now it is terrible.
Where were all the professors when
Russia killed thousants of Moslems in the war with Chechnya in 1999?.
Chechnya did not even shot rockets and mortar shells daily in to Russia.
Or is it ok for the Russians to kill
Moslem civilains, but not for Israeli's?(in self defence)

Margaret Hood - 1/6/2009

It is time for Saudi Araia to take responsibility for the Pal. traversty. Palestinian are nothing but Pawn for the Arab world. Israel has given and given to show they want peace. And each time they are slapped in the face and receive nothing but lies and rockets to destroy their homes, children, men and women. I say enough is enough!! Israel has the right to defend itself from these weisels and anyone who has experieced death and destruction from these Muslim terrorists! Interesting that all Muslims are not terrorist, but yet all TERRORISTS ARE MUSLIMS! I would submit to you that Palestine was never a acountry but when the Arabs invaded Israel few days after being given a National Homeland, Palestine suddenly became an ISSUE!
Peace will come when the world knows the truth and the truth is the LORD God gave Israel the land they live on and not OCCUPY! So take it up with the God of all creation, heaven and earth and the God of Father Abraham, and His sons Isaac and Jacob. He has said that "whomever curses Israel will be cursed!" And whomever blesses Israel will be blessed!" Evil has pemeated the world with Islamic garbage and THE LORD GOD IS NOT PLEASED. Not even allah! If Allah is pleased then you had better change your worship plans for God is ABLE!

Michael Kurtzig` - 1/5/2009

This letter is typical of the one sided none sense espoused by educators who claim to be fair but somehow always side with the perpetrators. It is a well known fact that Hamas and Hizbollah for that matter store their arms and rockets in public places and institutions. Israel makes the greatest efforts not to put civilians in harms way, even going as far as warning them of possible attacks. Israel values human life; that cannot be said of Hamas or Arabs in general.
The above statement seems to conveniently forget the 6464 rockets shot into Israel over the past three years from Gaza; seems to conveniently forget that Israel left Gaza nearly 3 years ago; seems to forget that Israel supplies the 1.5 "innocents" in Gaza, with food, water, electricity, medical supplies and other materials to keep Hamas alive and dangerous.
Jews believe in Tikkun Olam, to repair the world and where we go, we build and improve things; that has not been the case of Hamas and Fatah. We took in over 800,000 Jewish refugees, kicked out of myriad Arab countries; we housed them, clothed and fed them and gave them a new life. What has the Arab world done for those fleeing the 1948 debacle, nothing is probably more than generous.
Until the Palestinians look into the mirror to see where their problems lie, there is no hope for peace and improvement. Hamas must be finished off if Gaza is to have any chance of survival.

Allen Marshall - 1/5/2009

Sorry to disagree with this article. I understand the honorable intent but find nothing to indicate a knowledge of, or even awareness of, the position of Israel with regard to Islam. Hamas and other Muslim groups, as followers of Islam, have a religious obligation to kill Jews and therefore to eliminate Israel. Muslims never will submit to peace as we define it (absence of war) until they achieve peace as the Koran defines it (presence of Islam). To achieve peace, Muslims must destroy Jews and Israel. Israel cannot let that happen. The civilized world must continue to support Israel in defending itself. Civilized humanity should rise up and demand that the Koran be changed. I know that will not happen because faithful, practicing Muslims would never agree to it since the Koran is considered to be God's word. To me, because of the Koran, all Muslims must be considered suspicious and a potential enemy of Israel (and all of us who are not Muslims) unless willing to deny its evil parts. Can Muslims who believe in the Koran be considered innocent bystanders (e.g., students in Gaza) with regard to attacks coming from Israel? In the adhering to their Islamic belief system, are they not enemies of Israel? So where do we go from here? I have no answers other than to help save Israel from wicked enemies bent on destroying it in order to satisfy Koranic religious obligations. Would enjoy comments in response. Thanks.