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How One Palestinian University is Remaking ‘Israel Studies’

Rebecca L Stein (39902) 18 May 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...
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The Nakba and Its Aftermath

Mrs. Samia Khoury (22399) 14 May 2019
The year 1948 was a turning point in the history of Birzeit College. By the spring, the political situation looked precarious, and Birzeit administrators worried that the school year (which normally ended in June) would be interrupted by events that might be triggered by the planned withdrawal of British forces and the end of the Mandate that had been established in 1917. The administrators decided to complete the semester curriculum by April. The graduation ceremony was scheduled for April 30 and was to be held under the auspices of Abd al-Qadir al-Husayni, the chief commander of the...
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A Vibrant Breeze of Living Culture

Vera Tamari (39731) 30 Apr 2019
Birzeit University’s campus is perched on a hill overlooking a stretch of hills that roll down to the Mediterranean. The campus looms over Khirbet Birzeit, the ancient site of “Berzotho” mentioned by Roman historian Josephus. The University’s massive clusters of buildings and imposing stone cut facades follow a contemporary model of construction, contrasting greatly with the surrounding rocky terraced olive groves and small villages that huddle in the bosom of the Palestinian landscape. For those who attended the University before 1980 or so, this is the “new” campus; the “old” campus...
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An Academic Biography

Sami Sayrafi (39174) 18 Mar 2019
As a witness for more than four decades of various phases of academic development of Birzeit University, and having studied at Birzeit when it was a junior college and served in it as a faculty member as well as in various administrative positions for many years after it became a university, I view the year 1967 when Israel occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as a turning point in the academic life of this institution. At that time, Palestinian society was very much worried about the future and people were questioning the feasibility of continuing to study and teach while Israeli...
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An Erasmus experience of a lifetime: exchange student shares her journey at BZU

Nargiz Mammadova (34650) 30 Jan 2019
Death: when we hear this word, very cold and keen wind starts to blow on your face and slowly walk to your throat, vessels and finally to your heart, making us taste fear. Death is very abnormal, however, very normal. People can die of sickness, war, hunger or cold. People even die of happiness. It has been more than 80 years Palestinians are dying day by day, piece by piece, drop by drop due to the world's negligence. In this article, I will try to convey something of my experience after participating in the ICM program from a student's point of view. I do this by reflecting on my...
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Snapshots of the Student Movement

Ghassan Khatib (10323) 10 Jan 2019
The student movement at Birzeit University has always been an essential element in the University’s success and its distinctiveness. Birzeit became a university in the 1970s, during a period of vigorous popular political activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Popular, broad-based institutions came into being, accompanied by maturity in the understanding of ways to mobilize the community on a continual basis to resist occupation: by paying attention to social and economic development in order to bolster the community’s steadfastness (sumoud); by instilling awareness of the...
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Palestine’s Green Gold

Dima Masoud (28901) 28 Nov 2018
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...
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The health of Palestinians

Rita Giacaman (11054) 17 Nov 2018
I commend Richard Horton (Nov 2, p 1612)1for discussing Israeli military occupation of Palestinian land, including the siege of the Gaza Strip, and the effects this occupation has on health and access to health care. It also includes WHO data2on attacks by Israel on Palestinian health services, affecting patients, health workers, ambulances, and health facilities. Horton also includes his Israeli colleagues' response to WHO's report.2 Horton's Israeli colleagues responded in a tone that blames the victim. They emphasise their “desire for Palestinians to enjoy the very highest quality...
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The March of Return

Tina Rafidi (10235) 24 Oct 2018
A traveler I am, and a navigator, and every day I discover a new region within my soul. Khalil Gibran I felt rather strange the other day during a presentation titled "Creating Impact on International Youth in Palestine: Challenges and Opportunities." I was speaking at Birzeit University to a group of Palestinian Americans from Project Hope, a Palestinian youth initiative that seeks to connect young adults who live outside of Palestine with the city of Ramallah and to awaken, or cultivate, the spirit of volunteerism within the larger Palestinian community.[i] Repeatedly, I reminded...
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Community and Public Health

Rita Giacaman (11054) 15 Sep 2018
When I returned to Palestine in September 1978 to join the Biology Department faculty at Birzeit University, I found that the faculty, staff, and students were involved in community development and outreach activities. Community service was and is an integral part of the University’s mission (as central to its mission as a commitment to academic excellence); and faculty members had initiated the Voluntary Work Program (Munir Fasheh), the Archeology Program (Albert Glock), the Literacy and Adult Education Program (Khalil Mahshi and later, Hiyam Abu Ghazaleh), and the Research Center (...
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