An-Najah National University
Appeal In Support of the Right to Education
at An-Najah National University, of Nablus, Palestine
The right to education straddles the division of human rights into civil and political, on one hand, and economic, social and cultural, on the other hand, thereby affirming the conceptual universality of human rights. Both the right to education and rights in education thus ought to be recognized and protected. Moreover, many human rights can only be accessed through education.
--K. Tomasevski, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education
History: An-Najah was founded as An-Najah Nabulsi School in 1918, and, in 1941, it was developed into An-Najah College, upgraded to a two-year community college in 1963. To meet the evolving needs of Palestinian society, it was developed to AN-NAJAH NATIONAL UNIVERSITY in 1977, starting with the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Science.
The administration, faculty and students of An-Najah National University are deeply concerned with the future of this institution.
Since Nablus was invaded by Israeli government troops on April 3rd, academic life here has been all but suffocated.
Located in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, we are Palestine's largest University with a student body numbering close to 10,000 young men and women(54%), under normal conditions. An open University, A.N.U. has respect for diversity, International Law, and the spirit of democracy. Our present problems began at the end of September, 2000, when the government of Israel erected military checkpoints throughout the West Bank, territory that they have occupied since 1967.
Before the April invasion, students' movement was already severely restricted, and family breadwinners have been deprived of work permits, resulting in the loss of all or part of their incomes. This has led to a situation wherein some of our students have been forced to curtail their education, while the majority of An-Najah University students are experiencing financial difficulties to the extent that continuation of their studies remains in question.
This year marks our University's 25th anniversary, and we had all looked forward to celebrating our Silver Jubilee. This, along with final exams and the students' graduation ceremonies have been postponed. This year, there is no summer semester!
As 60% of our students come from the surrounding area, the majority of them have returned to their families. Everyone is under a strict curfew and confined to their homes, with dwindling hope of returning to their academic lives in the foreseeable future. The Israeli government's attack on Palestinian educational institutions has the effect of severely limiting the development of a healthy and sustainable society, and throws a wrench into any hopes for peace and reconciliation between the Palestinian and Israeli peoples.
In addition, Human Rights Watch has criticized Israel for interfering with the ability of university students in the Palestinian-governed areas of the West Bank to pursue their education.
International humanitarian law has been and continues to be trampled under the feet of the Israeli military establishment. Without immediate action by the international community, the destruction of Palestinian civil life, symbolized by its educational institutions, will continue unchallenged. We, the administration of An-Najah National University, Nablus, West Bank, urgently request that the following measures be taken:
1. International Humanitarian Law enshrines the rights of an occupied civilian population to protection while under military occupation. This must, by definition, include the right of Palestinian students in the Israeli-occupied territories to unhindered access to education. Israel must be made to comply with these most basic of human needs.
2. The institutions of the International Community must pay closer attention to violations against our academic process, inflicted by the Israeli military regime. We implore the International Intellectual Community to take serious steps to put an end to this unbearable situation. We need protection!
3. Israel must, at the very minimum, lift the oppressive curfew under which we are all suffering, abandon their policy of collective punishment, and ease travel restrictions presently imposed against our civilian population.