Jerusalem Week at Birzeit University

From Monday 28 September until 3 October, the Islamic Bloc at Birzeit University has planned a week of activites around Jerusalem. Lectures, exhibitions and political discussions will celebrate the city of Jerusalem and its importance in Palestinian life.

On Tuesday 29 September, hundreds of students, staff and guests of the university packed the Kamel Nassr Hall to listen to speakers discuss the issue of Jerusalem and the current Palestinian strategy towards the city. 

The first speaker, Nabil Amr, Palestinian Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, sounded an optimistic note and concluded his speech by saying, "Jerusalem is our capital and it was our capital throughout history. We are not worried about Jerusalem because our Palestinian children remain living there."

Ghassan Khatib, the Director of the Jerusalem Media and Communication Center and a lecturer at Birzeit University expressed concern about the Palestinian strategy towards Jerusalem,"There is no defined or rigid Palestinian policy on this subject and the Palestinian position of peace is impossible if Jerusalem is not part of this strategy.

"On the practical level Jerusalem has changed into something very virtual, a model or poster we talk about in a workshop. Our work has been transformed onto a theoretical level. What we should do is something practical. We should establish something on the ground and our work should focus on our presence in Jerusalem. We should support that presence and develop it but it seems now that Jerusalem is not one of our priorities. We must work on the potential power that is in Jerusalem."

The final speaker, Jamal Amr from the Birzeit University Architecture Department also called for united action in defence of Jerusalem, "Our strategy should be that we forget our wounds and our parties and develop the national dialogue. We should all work together - Arabs, Christians, Moslems for Jerusalem"

Fahed Shaheen, a student council representative and one of the organizers of the Jerusalem Week spoke to Birzeit News about the activities,"We are focusing on increasing the political awareness of the Birzeit community around Jerusalem and the Palestinian identity. The seminars and discussions of this week aim to make the Palestinian leaders and intellectuals take responsibilty for these issues. We also hope that students can participate and become involved in the political decisions.

"We are organizing a photographic and book exhibition that concentrates on the political situation. We have also organized lectures to which we have invited prominent leaders of the Palestinian community. We hope that this week will be just a beginning in showing these issues to the people. We will work at the end of this week to publish the recommendations of the different seminars and workshops that have been held.

"We have had an excellent response from students so far, because of the issues and the significance of the people speaking and also because of the unique nature of the university as a centre for these kinds of activities. "