In Memory of Albert Aghazarian: The Alleys of Jerusalem Will Miss You
18 Nov 2020
I was a third-year student when Albert Aghazarian arrived at Birzeit University in the late 1970s, a tall, solid young man, with a trimmed beard and a pipe jutting from his mouth, beaming with life and energy. Although I was not required to take any of his classes in the Middle Eastern Studies department, I attended several that he taught on the History of Modern and Contemporary Arab Thought to learn the ideas of this new lecturer. I found him to have a brilliant mind and a passion for the seventies revolutionary spirit, challenging dominant and traditional concepts. Most interesting for...
Birzeit University responds to Coronavirus
17 May 2020
In response to the COVID-19 coronavirus, Birzeit University was one of the first Palestinian higher education institutions to implement distance online teaching.
The first priority of the university administration and teaching staff is to keep all students healthy and to help them to protect themselves and their families from this pandemic by staying home as long as possible. For that reason, the university encouraged the faculty and staff to start giving distance courses to students using Moodle, with either BigBlueButton or Zoom software. The university swiftly adopted these two...
Triple Captivity: Palestinian Women under Israeli Military Rule in the Time of COVID-19
11 May 2020
When universities and schools went into lockdown in Palestine due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Birzeit University shifted to a virtual education model. What was a difficult beginning eventually became a routine that both teachers and students looked forward to.
Rita Giacaman, a professor at the university's Institute of Community and Public Health and her TA, PhD candidate Rula Ghandour, often checked in with their students in the Masters of Public Health (MPH) program about their well-being as well as their studies. It quickly became apparent that the students—all women, some of whom worked...
Food Insecurity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory: Reflections in Light of the COVID-19 Lockdown
2 Apr 2020
by Tracy Kuo Lin, Rawan Kafri, Weeam Hammoudeh and Tiziana Leone
Food insecurity continues to have far reaching impacts on the lives, health and wellbeing of people throughout the world, particularly in countries experiencing conflict and/or high levels of poverty. Conflict has been shown to be a key driver of severe food crises. Not only are 60 percent of those living with chronic hunger located in countries experiencing conflict, but also the prevalence of undernourishment in conflict-affected low and middle-income countries is between 1.4 to 4.4 percentage points higher on average than...
Coronavirus, King’s Maker
27 Mar 2020
RAMALLAH, March 26, 2020 - This pandemic that the world is facing is having a powerful impact on politicians and political situations—but with entirely contrasting results. For some, it is a gift from God for their fortunes, but for others, an existential threat. Leadership capability and the nature of the political regime seem to be the most important overarching factors.
Here in Palestine, Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has so far been able to leverage this health crisis into a political opportunity. Admitting our lack of resources to adequately confront the spread of the...
Trump’s “Deal” reminds us that all politics is local
1 Feb 2020
The unveiling of the long-awaited American “peace plan”—the “Deal of the Century”—did not produce any surprises for Palestinians. In fact, the document appeared to us to be a compilation of the positions adopted by the U.S. administration since President Donald Trump’s election.
Or, one could say that it reads rather like an English translation of right-wing Israeli rhetoric hurled at Palestinians ad nauseam: occupied East Jerusalem is to remain part of Israel, no evacuation of illegal Jewish settlements, no withdrawal from the Jordan Valley, no return of refugees—not even one!—and the...
Why PAS Program?
19 Nov 2019
Throughout your tour at Birzeit University campus (BZU) or its website visit, you might notice the acronym “PAS”.
Have you ever asked yourselves what it represents? Or, why is it beneficial to join PAS Program? Have you ever wondered if it is vital to speak Arabic? If not, please think seriously about these questions. This essay will hopefully help you find proper answers to these questions.
Well, PAS refers to the Palestine and Arabic Studies Program. PAS is a comprehensive program that does not only teach Arabic, but it also comprises social science courses The principal mission of...
Palestine’s Green Gold
22 Oct 2019
When I was young, I never really understood my parents’ insistence to only use olive oil imported from Palestine.
It took a long time and a great distance in a process that was neither cheap nor convenient. The oil came in old beat-up containers that did not look appealing to me at all.
In my head, if they wanted to support distant family back home, they could just send them money and save them and us a big hassle. We could just use the nice looking olive oil containers from the nearby store. Yet, this was never an option in our household. The only olive oil we used at home was from...
How One Palestinian University is Remaking ‘Israel Studies’
21 Sep 2019
At Birzeit University (BZU) in the Israeli occupied West Bank, just north of Ramallah, a growing cohort of young Palestinian students are studying for their M.A. in Israel Studies. The program’s first cohort was admitted in 2015. By the summer of 2019, nearly thirty Palestinian students will have received their degree.
In the Birzeit classroom, students and faculty are, in their words, “trying to produce Palestinian knowledge of Israeli society” through deep, critical engagement with Israeli culture, politics and society, often working with primary texts in their original Hebrew. In the...
Philanthropy as a Pursuit for All
1 Aug 2019
When ten years ago I faced the opportunity to join Birzeit University, not everyone encouraged me to join an academic institution.
Skeptics warned that its bureaucracy might limit and challenge my professional growth. But I decided to follow my intuition, shelved these recommendations, and embarked on my adventure. In the beginning, things were not easy and the journey was seldom rosy. I began my Birzeit University career as director of public relations, a position I held for two years before I assumed the responsibility of establishing the university's first resource development office....