Monday, September 08, 2003

Threat to the State of Israel!?

Sometimes a story just makes you wonder how insanity comes to be institutionalized. Everyone is doing their job the way they have been instructed. Everyone thinks they are acting rationally to preserve their security and national interest. The policymakers, while possibly misguided, almost certainly didn't anticipate such perverse and unjust results. But still, the sum of all those bits of human intelligence, judgment, and even wisdom, is hideous cruelty and injustice of such Grand Guignol proportions that one is rendered powerless to adequately describe it.

From the National Lawyer's Guild listserv:
"A UofA student (we will make his name public in a few days), one of our active members last year, has decided to travel to the West Bank and finish his degree (units in Arabic and Women in Palestinian history) in Bir Zeit University, the most prestigious Palestinian institution of higher eductation.

"He thoroughly discussed his decision with both his advisor, the department and the U of A administration. While of course everyone told the student to think carefully about such a course of action due to safety concerns, there is no question of the academic validity of this decision: Bir Zeit university is an accredited institution by the Department of
Education (and, incidentally, by the Israeli governament), the U of A accepts credit transfers from it, and more than one U of A student has successfully taken part of their degree course there in the  past (one former such student is currently enrolled in a PhD
program here).

"On arrival to Tel Aviv, the student was detained by Israeli police and interrogated. Unfortunately, he chose the honest and forthright course of action, telling the local authorities that he was planning to complete his degree in a Palestinian institution of higher education. At this point, he was detained and harassed for 12 hours. During his interrogation, he was repeatedly denied legal rapresentation, and threatened with "CIA and FBI investigation and even possible prison". He did contact the US embassy, but there was nothing they could do for him.

"At the end of the 12-hour period, his passport has been stamped with "Threat to the security of the State of Israel" (something which de facto precludes travel anywhere in the Middle East) and deported to London.

"APJME, as well as the student's numerous friends and collegues, regard this as outrageous. There is no question, either in the student's past history or his planned course of action, of him being dangerous to anyone's security. The university he was planning to study is considered a legitimate institution by all parties concerned. A US citizen has been detained with no charge or trial, harassed, and branded a terrorist for absolutely no reason whatsoever. As a consequence, he lost a semester and a sizeable amount of money, not counting possible future adverse consequences. We believe the University of Arizona should:

  • take an official position of the matter, and issue a complaint to the Israeli governament and the US department of education.

  • Waive tuition for the credits the student plans to take to complete his degree.


Limber up those pens, Deaners. We have a wrong to put right in our own backyard. Call or write to UA President Peter Likins at 520-621-5511 or plikins@arizona.edu and write to your federal and state representatives to let them know that as Arizona citizens and taxpayers we want justice for this student. As soon as I learn the student's name, I will post it here. In the meantime send out those letters, the name of the student doesn't matter, this sort of thing isn't exactly a common occurrence.


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