The Changeless Case

If we want to talk about the longest occupation since decades, we usually talk about Palestine being occupied by Israel. If we want to talk about the deepest suffering since ages, we absolutely talk about Palestinians’. If we want to talk about the changeless case, we definitely talk about the Palestinian case.

Since 1948, Palestine has been stuck to the Israeli occupation with outsider powers and policies represented by the Western countries ‘Israel’s allies’. Several plans were put along with a lot of road maps in order to end this fight peacefully since that year, but nothing was applied or agreed on by both sides, mostly by the Israeli, except one lone agreement called ‘the Oslo accords’ which both the government of Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) signed in Washington, D.C., in 1993. Oslo accords has resulted in the recognition by the PLO of the State of Israel, and the recognition by Israel of the PLO as the only representative of the Palestinian people.

After signing this agreement, Palestinians were hopeful that they finally would have their state structured gradually over time since this agreement would be the first step for the biggest step, especially after the Gaza airport was built and Gaza was opened to other countries. Trading began, infrastructures developed and Gaza became the beautiful scene of Palestine.

However, that did not last for too long as the second Intifada( Al-Aqsa Intifada) began in 2000 when the former Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, visited the Temple Mount, which was considered as highly provocative by Palestinians, causing a new conflict between Palestinians and Israeli forces, bringing the situation to the time before Oslo records.

Despite of that, the Western countries, represented by the USA, even when witnessing a change in its presidency, never stopped suggesting new agreements to solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which is considered the changeless case for millions of Palestinians inside Palestine and in the diaspora.

Nevertheless, Israel still authorizes and legalizes settlement built on private Palestinian lands in the West Bank. Jerusalem is still controlled and clashes are still taking place in both Palestinian sides, Gaza and the West Bank, despite the promises of the peace solutions that the US and some European countries suggest to solve this ongoing conflict.

Everyone knows that the US government plays a central role in this conflict since it’s the first ally of Israel and it has its sensitivity in the Middle East, especially the Arab Spring that stormed the Arab countries since 2011. As a result, every Palestinian and pro-Palestinian is giving America their concern and attention when it witnesses an event like presidential elections since every president, wishing to be elected for the White House, comes to their campaigns with a bag of promises for Palestinians and Israelis because they know how sensitive this issue is, and how affective it would be for their winnings.

After being elected as a president for the United States in 2008, Mr. Barack Obama made a visit to Cairo University in Egypt in 2009 and began his word with Salamu Alaykom (Peace be upon you), he promised to solve the Israeli-Palestinian case during his long speech for the Muslim world. Everyone hoped that Obama could do something towards this conflict, but nothing happened except increasing supporting Israel due to the Arab Spring that rocked the Middle East after a year.

The 2016 American presidential elections have begun on November 8 followed by campaigns for both candidates, the Democratic Hillary Clinton and the Republican Donald Trump. While their campaigns, both candidates had their comments about the Palestinian case while Palestinians and Israelis had their feedback about that.

The president-elect, Mr. Donald Trump, has said that the peace agreement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the toughest agreement of any kind. He also said that he would move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which means, for Palestinians, that Jerusalem would be the capital of Israel! As a result, Palestine’s UN envoy promised to make life “miserable” for the White House if it transfers the US Embassy to Jerusalem, threatening that they would unleash all the weapons they have in the UN against the United States.

While Hillary Clinton, who lost the president, has promised that Palestinians deserve to have a state, and she supported the idea of the two-state solution.

After Trump had won the presidency, people were divided into two parts; some supported his comments and his strategies since he is a new kind as a president for the United States so he could make a change, a big one, towards the world from one hand, and towards the Middle East, especially Palestinian-Israeli conflict from the other hand after his promises about solving this longest conflict. Others do believe that Trump is dangerous for Palestine since he always braises the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who said that he is a true friend for the state of Israel, supports the idea of settlements and promises to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Moreover, a lot of Palestinians believe that he knows nothing about the foreign policy unlike Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Palestinian politicians have other sayings about the US policy towards Palestine thinking that the American policy will remain the same whoever takes the white house since the American policy is the same, which is supporting Israel. Furthermore, the Palestinian President, Mr. Mahmoud Abbas, has urged the American president-elect, Donald Trump, to work towards establishing a Palestinian State, adding that the Palestinian authority is ready to deal with him on the basis of a two-state solution and to establish a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders. The president has warned that the failing to resolve the conflict would mean that the unstable situations will continue in the area.

On the other hand, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and outside Palestine wish that the US new government could make a change in this ongoing conflict so they can live peacefully like the rest of the world who live their days and nights without worrying about their future. They also hope that Gaza never has new open wars or attacks that could destroy what was being built in the last three wars. So, will that be difficult for the US government to do for the people of Palestine?

~~ Mohammed Arafat~~
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The Ideal Education Model in Palestine

I can remember well when my granddad told my father, when he was 30 years old, “Show me your certificates so society can know you!”

My grandfather said that to my uneducated father when he lost his job as a builder due to the second Palestinian-Israeli catastrophe in 2000. I was just about nine years old, and those words curved the EDUCATION word to my ears and my mind, and it`s still locked in my memory.

My grandfather died and I completed my tertiary education with a bachelor degree in Teaching English as a Foreign Language from The Islamic University of Gaza, yet, I’m still unable to find employment.

Yes, apparently I could succeed in achieving what my granddad and father dreamt of, but I couldn’t achieve what I dreamt of myself! Therefore, hopelessly, I say, there is no difference between me and the uneducated people even if I have the English language qualification, but… who cares?? Moreover, a lot of uneducated people got jobs through their crafts, like drivers, waiters at restaurants or cleaners, and they could have a good life with a wife and a home.

Everyone knows that education is that which transforms a person to live a better life and even in a social wellbeing. Education helps a person to show their best with their mind and spirit. It plays a vital role in a person`s success in their personal growth. The more knowledge you have, the more you grow with having a better future and a good job, and then a family, but…. It`s different in Palestine, especially in Gaza.

Life in Gaza changed the definition of education. It was education with its known meaning in the days of my grandfather as he was totally right when he asked my dad about his education, but it`s completely different these days. It`s complicated, but I will try to define it step by step.
What does Education in Palestine look like?
Palestine has been known to be the only country under occupation since 1948. Most of the country was destroyed, including the population, land, and infrastructure and of course the education system.

During the 1948 catastrophe, 70% of Palestine was occupied by Israel, and the people of those lands were forced out to other parts of the world leaving their lovely memories in their farms and under the willow and olive trees to begin new lives in other parts of the world, where today, they still live as refugees.

Some of those refugees left to live in the remaining 30% of Palestine “Gaza and the West Bank”, and they began to have a new life with new education for themselves and their children.

Their life became stable with good traditional education. The educational system was normal and free like most of the third world countries`. Graduates used to graduate from colleges and universities, and then, directly, they could find acceptable jobs so they could continue their lives, until the second catastrophe in 2000.

After 2000, everything changed. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict affected all Palestinians. It weakened the life in Gaza. Education went down and down reaching the lowest level possible. Graduates finished their college and university degrees, finding no jobs, but staying at home like uneducated people, most of whom had jobs doing physical labour earning minimum wages.

Most of those graduates thought of leaving Gaza to other countries so they could find good jobs to form their future, but the crossings were closed. However, the fathers asked their children not to educate themselves, since they realized that degrees means nothing in Gaza, so they advised them to have a craft so they can have a job in social careers, such as builders, painters, carpenters, drivers or even cleaners.

As a result, Gaza reached to a dangerous level, with unemployment in the coastal enclave at the highest in the world. The siege on Gaza has negatively affected all forms of employment, with all the crossings close all the time, and almost nothing and no one coming and going in or out. People had no choice, so they came back to schools hopefully they could graduate and have jobs.

What are the Education struggles in Gaza?
1- In 2008, 2012 and 2014, Gaza had three harrowing killing wars that destroyed a lot of schools, and stopped thousands of students from going to schools. On the other hand, a lot of families, whose homes were destroyed during those wars, stayed at schools which prevented thousands of students from getting an education, and those families are currently still living in those schools.
2- Closure of the crossings prevented hundreds of students from furthering their education for masters and doctorate degrees outside Gaza which made the education process slower and slower.
3- 68% of schools don`t have corridors for people with special needs.
4- 68% of schools don`t have soap in bathrooms for children.
5- 50% of schools don`t have enough sinks.
6- 46% of schools don`t have school gardens.
7- 67% of schools get noise from the militant activities.
8- 67% of schools don`t have air conditioners or fans.
9- 27% of schools don`t have libraries.
10- 33% of schools don`t have science labs.
11- 37% of schools don`t have computer labs.
12- 67% of schools don`t have sport facilities.
13- 95% of schools don`t have medical kits.

So, what is the ideal education in Palestine?
The ideal education for Palestinian students is, merely, to have a simple education! But how? Well, it’s as follows:
1- The Palestinian students need to be assured that they are able to find work after graduating so they can feed their families and start families to continue their lives like everyone else, and this can happen through:
A- Knowing what the most needed specializations and studying fields are so students can know which field to join and which one to avoid. For instance, let`s say that Gaza has twenty labs, and those labs need forty chemistry teachers, but the problem is that the universities in Gaza don`t offer degrees in teaching chemistry, so this is a problem. Therefore, universities need to know what the most needed fields are so that students can know what to study.
B- Opening new places for graduates, like schools, labs and colleges so they can have jobs, and this can`t happen unless:
– Rebuilding the destroyed homes so that people living in schools can go back to their homes.
– Focusing on sponsoring schools, colleges, universities, labs, hospitals, clinics and even kindergartens so graduates can have available careers.
C- Considering education as a priority, and making every student know that the country can`t stand without education.
D- Giving students hopes so they can complete their education without worrying about finding jobs or how to feed their families, and of course that can happen through giving workshops, free courses, previous experience of how other stricken countries could have development after having wars, like Japan.
2- Palestinian-Israeli conflict must stop, and both sides must know that peace is the only way to live. They have to know that we are born to live and then to educate, and then to develop our country, but not to die. This can happen through:
– Showing other countries how much we need peace, and we do deserve life like others.
– Making the international institutions, like the UN and UNESCO, have a look at us and to stop the fights to protect education.
– Separating education from militant and violent activities.
– Protecting the Palestinian education internationally.
– Opening the closed border crossings so students can complete masters and doctorates degrees outside Gaza.

To conclude, I would like to narrate a poem I wrote about how every student in Gaza feels towards the education model in Palestine.

-I want to sing loudly with my band,
-Palestine without education will never stand,

-We have been dreaming and we want to dream,
-We are born to live, and to have a future with a beam,

-We are tired of killing and fighting,
-Peace is our solution and lighting,

-We are human, and we deserve life,
-We need future with family and a wife,

-We don`t ask for an ideal education,
-But for normal one into our nation,

-Building Palestine, is our aim,
-We don’t need highness or fame,

-Why don’t we learn like others so we can gain?
-Why don’t we live stably and get rid of this pain?

So, I would like to say that the ideal education model in Palestine is the normal EDUCATION in other countries.

~~Mohammed Arafat~~