The Islamic University of Gaza, February 2007. (Wesam Saleh/MaanImages)
As a Fulbright scholar and professor of American literature at the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG), I have always preferred to keep silent about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I always felt that it was my mission to preach love and peaceful coexistence. However, Israel’s massive offensive against the Gaza Strip has spurred me to speak out.
Last night, during the second night of Israel’s unprecedented attack on Gaza, I was awakened by the deafening sound of intensive bombardment. When I learned that Israel had bombed my university with American-made F-16s, I realized that its “target bank” had gone bankrupt. Of course Israeli politicians and generals would claim that IUG is a Hamas stronghold and that it preaches terrorism.
As an independent professor, not affiliated with any political party, I can say that IUG is an academic institution which embraces a wide spectrum of political affinities. I see it as prestigious university which encourages liberalism and free thought. This personal point view might seem to be biased; therefore, I would invite anyone who would doubt about my assertions to browse IUG’s website and research its history. They would learn about its membership in various international academic institutions, the active role its professors play in scholarly research as well as prizes and research grants they have received.
Why would Israel bomb a university? Israel did not only target my university last night. It also bombed mosques, pharmacies and homes. In Jabaliya refugee camp Israeli bombs killed four little girls, sisters from the Balousha family. In Rafah they killed three brothers, aged 6, 12 and 14. They also killed a mother, along with her one-year-old child from the Kishko family in Gaza City.
These acts made me reflect on some of the commandments given by God to the “Chosen People:” Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house. No one could be chosen by God to annex the land of other people and kill them. Israel made these ethical choices by itself. Israel itself chose to wage its wars to eliminate the indigenous people of Palestine.
Dr. Akram Habeeb is Assistant Professor of American Literature at the Islamic University of Gaza.