PRESS RELEASE - 8th December 2008
For immediate release
BRITISH ACADEMICS TO BREAK THE SIEGE OF GAZA:
BOAT LEAVES CYPRUS TO IMPLEMENT ‘RIGHT TO STUDY’ OF PALESTINIAN STUDENTS
Two Jewish academics from the UK, Emeritus Professor Jonathan Rosenhead
and Research Fellow Mike Cushman, both from the Department of Management
at the London School of Economics, have joined the latest ‘Free Gaza’ boat
in an attempt to enable Palestinian university students to pursue their
The ‘Dignity’ sailed from Larnaca, Cyprus at 23.40 local time, Monday
December 8, in an effort to break Israel’s 19-month blockade of Gaza and
bring out 16 students who have places to study abroad. There are
currently some 1700 students in Gaza who have been granted places at
universities abroad - often with prestigious scholarships such as the
Fulbright or Ford Foundation awards - but whom the Israeli authorities
have prevented from leaving Gaza.
Higher education opportunities are extremely limited in Gaza. Many vital
disciplines, including speech therapy, dentistry and physical therapy are
not taught in Gaza, and there is no opportunity for doctoral study either
in Gaza or in the West Bank. Study abroad is the only alternative for
Palestinian students, yet this alternative is being denied them by the
Rosenhead and Cushman are members of the British Committee for the
Universities of Palestine (BRICUP), which advocates boycotting Israeli
academic institutions as long as they are complicit in Israel’s illegal
occupation of Palestinian and other Arab territory. BRICUP recently held a
packed meeting at SOAS where Israeli academic Prof. Ilan Pappe described
the Israeli siege of Gaza as "slow genocide".
Now they have joined those taking direct action to enable Palestinian
students to continue their academic and professional training. Prof.
Rosenhead said: "Our government has failed to uphold international law and
defend the human rights of the Palestinians, including the right to study
and the right to teach. On the 60th anniversary of the International
Declaration of Human Rights, we are proud to join the ‘Dignity’ on its
fourth blockade-breaking trip to Gaza. We hope that by the end of this
week we will have liberated these Palestinian students, in accordance with
international law, and enabled them to take up the places awarded them by
universities around the world in recognition of their academic merit."
Mr. Cushman said: "As academics we are particularly pleased to be
travelling on the Dignity on this mission to enable at least some of the
hundreds of students trapped in Gaza by the Israeli siege to get out and
take up their places at universities round the world. This siege is an
affront to any idea of academic freedom or human rights. We, working for a
British university, have the freedom to teach and study. This must be a
universal right, not at the discretion of an occupying power. How can
anyone justify preventing young people from fulfilling their potential and
learning how to serve their community more fully?"
This third trip by the ‘Dignity’ is expected to take 14 hours, arriving in
Gaza on Tuesday 9th December at 13.30 local time (11.30 GMT).
[ ends ]
Notes to editors
1. The ‘Dignity’ is at sea right now. You can try ringing Mike Cushman
on board the ‘Dignity’ on +44 773 670 5294, but it may be out of range.
2. BRICUP contact in the UK: Sue Blackwell, 0792 995 3893.
3. Relevant websites for further information:
(for info on trapped Palestinian students in Gaza)
http://www.freegaza.org/ (Free Gaza boats campaign)
(Free Gaza movement’s own press release)
www.bricup.org.uk (academic & cultural boycott of Israel - UK)
www.pacbi.org (academic & cultural boycott of Israel - Palestine)
PRESS RELEASE - 8th December 2008