How One Palestinian University is Remaking ‘Israel Studies’

Rebecca L Stein 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...
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Philanthropy as a Pursuit for All

Manal Issa 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....
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Palestinian University Fights Israeli Visa Restrictions

JOAN W. SCOTT 27 Jul 2019
Adalah, the Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, reports that the Israeli government “is refusing to issue work permits for international academics working at Palestinian universities in the occupied West Bank and is escalating a harsh visa policy that is forcing them to abandon their students and leave the country. Murky and arbitrary Israeli regulations leave international lecturers and their families in constant uncertainty and subject to deportation at any time. Now, a Palestinian university in the West Bank, together with two Palestinian human rights groups, are taking legal...
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Israel isolates Palestinian universities

Maureen Clare Murphy 15 Jul 2019
Israel is isolating Palestinian universities by forcing international scholars to leave their academic positions in the occupied West Bank. Two Palestinian human rights groups, as well as Birzeit University, are calling on Israel to lift restrictions preventing international academics from working in the West Bank and to publish “a clear and lawful procedure for issuing entry visas and work permits.” Israel’s policy of denying internationals entry to the West Bank, as well as refusing and failing to process visa extension applications in a timely manner, has affected dozens of scholars...
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ANALYSIS: The “Peace to Prosperity” workshop is a monument to occupation and arrogance

Ghassan Khatib 25 Jun 2019
Nobody should be surprised that Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip are underwhelmed by the invitation Washington has extended to its Bahrain “prosperity workshop,” set to commence Tuesday, and the accompanying economic plan that the White House recently laid out on its website. The 137-page plan aims to provide $50 billion to finance development projects in Palestinian territory and some neighboring Arab countries. It is the economic component of the long-waited Trump peace plan known as the “Deal of the Century.” The international and Arab response to this American...
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Internationalization efforts at Birzeit University

Amir Khalil 18 Jun 2019
The internationalization of higher education institutions (HEIs) in Palestine has become embedded in the universities’ policies, strategies and institutional-level discourses. Most Palestinian universities have started formulating and implementing their internationalization objectives in their policies and strategies with diverse aims that focus on enhancing institutional reputations and competitiveness, improving student and staff capacities, and bolstering the role of the universities in international fora. Birzeit University (BZU) is one of the first Palestinian HEIs to embrace the...
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The moment I discovered that I am a “Shami”

Nazmi Al Jubeh 28 May 2019
I’m not sure that we can track the etymology of the word “Sham.” Some etymologist said that the name can be traced to the fact that the area lies to the north (sham or shama means north in the Palestinian dialect) of the Arabian Peninsula; others said it was derived from the Arabic word for mole (shama); and others still claimed that it was called as such because the land was dotted with so many villages that it was akin to moles on the skin. Geographically, however, the term refers to Greater Syria before Sykes-Picot and before the annexation of the Sanjak of Alexandretta to Turkey. The...
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The Nakba and Its Aftermath

Mrs. Samia Khoury 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 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 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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