Professors explore science and research under Israeli occupation at meeting of scientists for Palestine

Wafaa Khater, an assistant professor at Birzeit University’s Department of Physics, and Mustafa Jarrar, a professor at the Department of Computer Science, participated in the third International Meeting for Science in Palestine, held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, USA, from January 10 to 12, 2020.

The two-day meeting included discussions on the mechanisms needed to sustain international collaboration with and elevation of Palestinian scientists. It gathered prominent international scientists, including George Smith, the winner of the 2018 Nobel Prize in chemistry; Tarek Loubani, a Palestinian innovator and Gaza Return March medic; Palestinian minister of education Marwan Awartani; political economist Leila Farsakh, and public health expert Danya Qato.

This third meeting aimed at refining plans towards fulfilling Scientists for Palestine’s objectives that aim to advance science in Palestine and integrate Palestinian scientists into the international scientific community by enhancing collaboration and highlighting Palestinian scientists’ achievements and developments. The meeting also tackled key challenges and celebrated successes of Palestinians, as their practice and research of science must overcome the obstacles posed by the occupation.

Khater presented a lecture titled “Science behind the walls and under the Israeli occupation,” describing twenty years of experiences as a researcher and scientist who lives and works under occupation. She explained the challenges she faces when engaging in joint scientific research with international institutions and universities and pointed out the obstacles she has to overcome when networking and building connections with her international peers.

Khater also visited Harvard University and Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, looking into prospects of cooperation in developing the study and research of astronomy at Birzeit University and its Michel and Hakim Sanieh Observatory.

Jarrar presented his research journey in computer science under the Israeli occupation and his recent accomplishment in building a linguistic search engine for the Arabic language.

Birzeit University organizes annually the Palestinian Advanced Physics School that introduces Palestinian students of advanced physics to topics in modern physics research through lectures, seminars, and interactive activities and problem-solving sessions.