Israel attacks my university — with bombs and lies

4 August 2014

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The Islamic University of Gaza on 2 August after it was bombed by the Israeli military.

(Ashraf Amra / APA images)

On Saturday, the Israeli military boasted of bombing a “weapons development center” at the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG).

I teach journalism at this university. The section of the campus where I work is close to the administrative department, the target of Israel’s dawn attack.

That department hosts teaching staff belonging to all colleges of the university: medicine, literature, engineering, commerce and others. It does not have a “weapons development center.”

Contrary to what Israel claims, Gaza universities do not have departments dedicated to military research or training. This is in contrast to Israeli universities which play an integral role in the military occupation and weapons development and have actively promoted the onslaught in Gaza.

The attack on IUG, as well as the Israeli occupation forces invasion of Birzeit University in the West Bank in June, was condemned by the American Studies Association executive committee. The American Studies Association voted in favor of an academic boycott of Israel last year, sparking a debate within the organization and in the mainstream media about the tactic.

Linked to Hamas?

The IUG is considered by many here to be Gaza’s finest university. It has approximately 20,000 students.

Western newspapers have reported that the IUG was “Hamas-linked” in recent days.

That displays a profound ignorance. The IUG was founded in 1978; Hamas did not emerge until almost a decade later.

Some of our students are, indeed, involved in Hamas.

Others are affiliated to Fatah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Islamic Jihad or one of the other Palestinian factions.

Are students living under a military occupation not allowed to be politically active?

The insinuation in the Western press that Hamas controls all the university’s activities does not reflect reality.

For the past six years, I have been teaching students how to use English in the media. I have been working for the university’s open education department (also known as the Community Development Institute).

Initially, I was hesitant to join the IUG, fearing that I would have to follow strict religious or political rules. I have no party affiliations and regard myself as a very moderate Muslim.

Surprised

In 2008, I was called for an interview with the dean of the open education department and two English-language teachers. The interview was a success.

The dean and his colleagues appeared to have no problem with my work for media outlets based in the US, including Free Speech Radio News and The Electronic Intifada. They were kind towards me and made me feel at ease. So I started giving lecturers at the university.

During my first lectures, I was surprised by a number of the students I encountered. I had known some of them previously. To the best of my knowledge, they were neither active in Hamas nor considered themselves to be Islamists.

I had many fruitful discussions with my new students.

At times, I have been openly critical of both Hamas in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank. I have talked about the “blue uniforms” of Gaza and the “red-carpet reception” that visitors to the West Bank can expect.

I was satirizing the heavy emphasis on policing by Hamas and how the PA behaves as if it has already succeeded in setting up an independent state.

Not once has the IUG’s administration tried to censor me. Not once have the Hamas-led authorities in Gaza questioned me.

Destroying lives

The university’s administration has been helpful and encouraging. They have facilitated some of my initiatives — such as inviting contacts of mine outside Gaza to address students via Skype.

The IUG was bombed by Israel in December 2008 during the early days of Operation Cast Lead, a three-week intensive attack on Gaza. That offensive was also in response to “terrorism,” according to the Israeli narrative.

The American Studies Association has correctly observed that the bombing of Palestinian universities is not only an abuse of academic freedom, it is an attempt to prevent us from enjoying the basic necessities that we need to get by.

Fewer and fewer people are swallowing Israel’s lies. Far from destroying “weapons development centers,” Israel is trying to destroy our lives.

It is intent on denying us the possibility of learning and working in peace.

Israel will not succeed. We will keep on educating our people, no matter how many times we are bombed.

Rami Almeghari is a journalist and university lecturer based in the Gaza Strip.

Comments

Great article it is refreshing to hear a point of view from someone who is experiencing this genoicde that is getting inflicted on you and your fellow Palestinians. Rest assured there is people out there who have empathy towards your cause . We feel helpless all we can do is pray and stand up and be a voice of reasoning in response to peoples suuport against this zionist regime. Keep up the good fight you peaceful warrior my prayers are with you

As a media professor in the USA, I empathize with your trial in Gaza -- the media, here, has been strongly pro-Israel, but with the information coming to us from the inside of this new assault, the American POV is starting to change -- let's keep the truth coming.

As the author mentions, Israeli universities are wholly complicit in the Israeli war machine. This is why an academic boycott is essential.

Thank you for a very well written and amazingly calm article, especially based on your circumstances. I just want to bring to people's attention that they can do more than pray. Praying of course is always good. But how we send our money can either support peace or support war and genocide. Boycott for Peace! https://www.facebook.com/group...

Thank you! We can be the change! We are the change!

I have no doubt that as in the broader instances of Israeli attacks on Palestinian institutions, the bombing of the Islamic University was calculated to deprive Gazans of another key instrument for the amelioration of their intolerable conditions. The Israeli claim that the university was a center of military research and development is simply a projection of the Zionist State's own activities throughout Israeli higher education. It's interesting to note how precisely Israeli charges against Palestinians and their institutions tabulate exactly with Israel's own record of organised violence, subversion of international norms, and genocidal outlook. Zionism's catalog of accusations is taken from the theory and practice of Israeli state-building- racist in nature, expansionist in design, merciless in execution.

Thank-you for giving us a better picture. The US media does not independently check its statements. Please continue your struggle using all non-violent means at your disposal. Please also show solidarity with Tibetans whose land is also under occupation.

I HAD A GAZA GHETTO DREAM---
OF FREEDOM AND DEFIENCE
I SAW THE SPIRIT OF RESISTENCE FLY
ABOVE THE SHATTERED HOMES
AND CHILDRENS SCREAMS
AN AIRBORN SYMBOL OF COMPASSION
FOR ALL THE WORLD TO SEE
A FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
RISING SLOWLY THROUGH THE DUST
AND GLOOM OF ISRAEL OPPRESSION
NO FLASH NO SMOKE NO SOUND NO FLAME
A NEW LOW TECH WEAPON SYSTEM THAT
THE IRON DOME CANNOT DETECT AND WITH A
GREATER RANGE THAN A HAMMAS ROCKET FLIES
THE GAZA GHETTO STEALTH AIRSHIP CAMPAIGN
MADE FROM THE PAPER WARNING PHAMPLETS
DROPED FROM NAZI IDF AND USED TO JUSTIFY
COLLATERAL MURDER AND A LITTLE GLUE WILL DO
AND A SIMPLE LIGHTWEIGHT FRAME AND CANDLE--YES
A GAZA GHETTO FREEDOM AIRFLEET DRIFTING DOWN
ON ISRAEL IS THE PERFECT IMAGE TO COMMUNICATE
EACH HOT-AIR BALLOON A PERFECT BILLBOARD MESSAGE
PICTURE MOST OF THE WORLD WOULD LOVE TO TAKE

LIKE "WHY IS ISRAEL KILLING INNOCENT PEOPLE" OR
" STOP BLOCKADING GAZA GHETTO" OR SIMPLY
"GO HOME ISRAEL AND LEAVE US ALONE"
DOZENS AND DOZENS BY DAY AND BY NIGHT
WHEN THE WIND IS RIGHT
THE ENGLISH AIRFORCE SO AS TO NOT BE
OUTDONE BY GERMAN FASCIST WAR CRIMES
ENSURED THE EFFICIENT EXTERMINATION OF
60,000 INNOCENT MEN WOMEN AND CHILDREN
BY SIMPLY DISTRACTING GERMAN RADAR WITH
STRIPS OF ALLUMINIUM FOIL WHICH IS SOMETHING
AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL WOULD NOT LIKE TO SEE
HANGING IN LONG THIN STRIPS OF DIFFERENT
LENGTHS FROM A HOT AIR BALLOON FLOATING
DOWNWIND FROM GAZA ON AN EVENING SSW BREEZE
IF YOU GET THE DRIFT---DING DING
NON-VIOLENT RESISTANCE PALASTINE STYLE
MORE POWERFUL THAN GUNS OR DYNAMITE
POSITIVE PALASTINE CREATIVE NEWS WHICH
CANNOT BE DEFORMED AND LIED ABOUT BY
INTERNATIONAL JEWISH CONTROLED MEDIA
RISE UP YOUR AIRSHIP FREEDOM FLIGHTS
RISE UP BY DAY RISE UP BY NIGHT AND HELP
DISTRACT THE JEWISH NAZI TOOL OF HIGH TECH
DEATH AND DISTRUCTION AND PAIN CALLED
THE IDF OF ISRAEL---RISE UP GAZA GHETTO
USE THIS SIMPLE TOOL TO LIBERATE YOURSELF
IF YOU READ THIS SEND IT ON TO PALASTINE:

Beseigeing and murdering defensless people locked in a concentration camp is nothing short of genocide.

Israel was founded by and living on terror.

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