A few months ago, I spoke about the plight of ten Gaza students of occupational therapy in Bethlehem University. Except they've never been to Bethlehem. How, then, do they study, one might wonder? Try: videoconference, remote control, and out of country lab work.
And of course, without electricity, well, you can bet there are no classes.
Like almost everything else for Gaza's besieged population, welcome to the twilight zone.
Its all part of a long-standing sweeping Israeli-imposed ban that prevents residents of the Gaza Strip from studying at institutions of higher learning in the West Bank-and from traveling to the WB or Jerusalem in general and which predates the democratic election of Hamas's Change and Reform Party.
I've talked a lot about the various ways the laws affects people, from my brilliant neighbour B. who had to forfeit her masters degree in engineering because her permit continued to be denied, to her neighbour who went blind waiting for his health permit, and of course, my own continued denial to travel to the WB to attend press and academic conferences and meet friends and relatives.
GISHA, along with the Gaza Community Mental Health Program and Bitona, continues to fight the students' legal battle, and Haaretz has published a detailed article about their case today, interviewing the occupational therapy students (an artticle I started myself, and never finished!).
As part of the public campaign, the organizations published a quarter-page ad in today's Haaretz , signed by 200 Israeli professors and lecturers, asking the defense minister to undo the ban.
Of course, the ban is in the context of the larger Israel matrix of administrative control, also affecting the lives of people like my dear friend Sam Bahour, A Palestinian-American from el-Birah who has lived there for the past 15 years, and is now being expelled from his own home because suddently the powers that be say his permit is no longer valid. See Amira Hass's article, THE SLIPPERY SLOPE OF EXPULSION, here.
Sam tells me he's fighting it out in the courts till his final breath.
Meanwhile, check out Gideon Levy's GAZA'S DARKNESS in yesterda's Haaretz, lest we forget, well, Gaza's darkness.