The Gaza Students’ Plight … Till When?

This is not a new topic if you’ve been following the news this past summer, but unfortunately it’s not becoming old news too! A lot of media coverage has been devoted to the ordeal of the more than 1700 Gazan students who are being deprived from their right to join their universities outside Gaza. Among those 1700 students, if not most of them, are the brightest and the best students who have successfully secured the most prestigious scholarships offered by the best world universities, scholarships like the Fulbright scholarship, the Ford Foundation scholarship, and many others. Until now the majority of them are still trapped in Gaza. What made me blog about the issue is that I have come to know some of those who are trapped, and it’s heart-aching and very much makes you sick to still hear that those bright students are still trapped in Gaza trying to figure out there ways out, to no avail!

Anyways, just so I don’t re-iterate what was covered in many news outlets through out the summer, I will just refer to some links. For example, the Gaza seven Fulbrighters plight, which until now was not resolved for all grantees, first it was canceled by the State Department (here), then few weeks later the awards were reinstated (here), then only three out of the seven grantees made it to the U.S., one relinquished her award due to the troubles and inconsistencies that accompanied the scholarship, and most notoriously three students were not allowed to claim their prestigious award by revoking their visas just few days after they were issued, of course based on unsubstantiated claims of security concerns (here)!  As a matter of fact one of them, named Fidaa Abed, made it to Dulles Airport in Washington DC half an hour before he was told that he has to board the next flight back to Jordan as his visa was revoked while he was en route to the U.S. (here).  It’s noteworthy to mention that one of the seven grantees whom I have exchanged e-mails with, Zuhair Abu Shaban, has been awarded a different scholarship to study at the Imperial College in the United Kingdom, but he is still trapped in Gaza and not able to join his Masters program that has already started early this month (here)! It’s also noteworthy that Zuhair, as well as Fidaa Abed, has graduated at the very top of his class in a competitive university in Gaza. (Zuhair in his own words here and Fidaa in his words here).

Another reason that made me post about this issue, is that recently I have come to know that one of my former friends during the undergraduate study in Jordan, his name is Rami Abdu, was also among those who were trapped in Gaza and just very recently managed to join his PhD program in the United Kingdom. Rami was also volunteering as the spokesperson for the Popular Committee  Against Siege (Gaza). Rami has recently been talking about the plight of the trapped students in Gaza at a seminar in Manchester University, UK (Youtube: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)

Finally, I want to express my personal  deepest gratitude to all the groups who are working on helping the trapped students. I would like to particularly acknowledge the help of GISHA (also their movement  Trapped In Gaza) for the work they do to help the trapped students get the far-fetched exit permits from the “Israeli” government, despite the very low success rate, still they’re doing a great job. Also the work of the Let Palestinians Study group is also worth mentioning.

All of us ought work in our respective capacities to help those students achieve their “dreams” of leaving Gaza to join their universities abroad. It’s a shameful world we live in that high achievers like those students are being trapped in the biggest prison ever known to humanity, the Gaza Strip.