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Al Quds student Tareq Ahram, accompanied by Gill Knight, meets Mayor Alan Roberts.

Harsh realities of life for Palestinian students

Did you suffer much in your student days? Most of us, if we use that word at all, would bring to mind hangovers, affairs of the heart or problems with flat-sharers. But for Tareq Ahram and his fellow students at Al Quds university on the east side of Jerusalem, the suffering is of a quite different order, as he related to the first public meeting of Hastings Palestine Solidarity Campaign on 5 February. PSC member Rachel Lever reports.

First, every time Tareq made the daily trip to and from his parents’ house a few hundreds yards away, he had to negotiate the new 9-metre high wall separating Abu Dis from Jerusalem, and show his papers at its military crossing point. Apart from the delays and humiliations, he most dreaded the times he’d be taken aside and questioned. What were people talking about? Who in his circle was influential, a bit of a leader? Was anyone organising politically? He’d be probed for signs of weakness or money troubles that might make him a candidate for bribes or pressure to report on his fellows.

And once inside the college, the question lingered: who else on campus might have been recruited to report on him and his friends?

Suitable learning environment? Tear gas on campus.

Then there were the arbitrary military raids on the beautiful Al Quds campus. It had become so commonplace he couldn’t quite remember when it started. There could be several attacks in a week. He showed three videos made in the same time-frame by the students: the air heavy with clouds of tear gas filling the quad and seeping into the lecture rooms. He showed pictures of the gas bombs collected in one day within the campus. There were the rounds of rubber-coated steel bullets, the stun guns. The panic and urgency of getting the wounded away by ambulance, which itself would also have to negotiate checkpoints to get to the hospital.

And the tragedy and mourning for the dead: Mohammed, his friend and fellow student, “his family’s great hope.”

Why attack a university? “Because education is our only weapon.”

Tareq’s visit to speak to Hastings Palestine Solidarity Campaign on 5 February was our first public meeting, just three weeks after the inaugural gathering in mid January. The invitation was arranged by founder member Gill Knight, who also took him to Pestalozzi and went with him to meet Hastings mayor Alan Roberts, who promised to stay in touch and help our lobbying.

Tareq’s account is echoed by Amira Hass, writing in the Israeli daily paper Ha’aretz (31 January):

“Al Quds University at Abu Dis has become a hotspot for clashes: students say that Israeli Border Patrol officers provocatively take up positions around the campus, and wait for opportunities to pounce. On January 22, hundreds of students were injured by the border patrol over a period of five hours. Border Patrol officers set up near the university gates demanded to see students’ identity cards. Clashes ensued, officers used tear gas, and were hit with stones. Officers responded with rubber-coated bullets, before entering the campus itself, where they used tear gas and stun grenades as well.” Al Quds University teaching staff wrote to a partner college in the US: ‘This breach, and others that preceded it, are an intolerable erosion of our students’ and professors’ right to a safe learning environment… the Israeli army’s actions create an atmosphere of violence, abuse and fear on our campus.’”

To mark Israeli Apartheid Week at the end of

Some members of Hastings PSC. Next stop: Israeli Apartheid Week.

February, we will be highlighting WATER APARTHEID, having discovered that Southern Water plans to install new meters in Hastings made by the Israeli company Arad, which is heavily implicated in the discriminatory allocation of water within the West Bank and the syphoning off of 80% of its water into Israel.


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Hastings PSC prepares for action

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Posted 18:05 Tuesday, Feb 11, 2014 In: Campaigns


  1. John

    Harsh realities of life for Palestinian students: 13,000 Palestinian teens graduate: “Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh gave a speech at the graduation, saying “This is a generation which knows no fear. It is the generation of the missile, the tunnel and the suicide operations…”

    Comment by John — Wednesday, Apr 16, 2014 @ 23:25

  2. Mark

    Israel and the water shortages in Gaza:

    Comment by Mark — Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014 @ 20:50

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