November 16, 2015
H.E. Benjamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister of Israel
Dear Prime Minister,w
On behalf of the Committee on Academic Freedom (CAF) of the Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA), I write to express MESA’s profound concern regarding repeated and ongoing attacks by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) against the Palestine Technical University and its students in Tulkarem, occupied West Bank.
MESA was founded in 1966 to promote scholarship and teaching on the Middle East and North Africa. It is the preeminent organization in the field. The Association publishes the International Journal of Middle East Studies and has nearly 3,000 members worldwide. MESA is committed to ensuring academic freedom and freedom of expression, both within the region and in connection with the study of the region in North America and elsewhere.
Since early October, when clashes broke out in Jerusalem after provocative actions by right-wing Jewish individuals and organizations at the Temple Mount/al-Haram al-Sharif, unrest and insecurity have spread throughout Israel and occupied Palestine. Unprovoked and unpredictable attacks, including knifings, shootings, mob violence against civilians—Palestinian, Israeli, and foreign, as in the recent lynching of an Eritrean asylum seeker in Beersheba—are symptoms of a rapidly deteriorating state of affairs throughout Palestine/Israel.
Palestinian activists, students and civil society organizations throughout the West Bank and Gaza have organized and participated in solidarity actions with Palestinian resistance to Israeli incitement in Jerusalem. Meanwhile, marches, demonstrations and public opposition to the Israeli occupation regime that continues to control movement, borders and everyday life in the West Bank have continued apace.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have, in turn, engaged in tactics of collective punishment against Palestinian civilians, most recently turning their sights on university students at the Palestine Technical University (PTU) in Tulkarem. Following a series of rallies and student demonstrations as early as mid-October, the IDF violently moved in to suppress this student activism. At that time, Israeli soldiers lobbed tear gas canisters on the university campus, including inside university buildings, leading to the hospitalization of several students who had inhaled the gas.
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About MESA (The Middle East Studies Association)
The Middle East Studies Association (MESA) is a private, non-profit, non-political learned society that brings together scholars, educators and those interested in the study of the region from all over the world. MESA is primarily concerned with the area encompassing Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan, Israel, Pakistan, and the countries of the Arab World from the seventh century to modern times. Other regions, including Spain, Southeastern Europe, China and the former Soviet Union, also are included for the periods in which their territories were parts of the Middle Eastern empires or were under the influence of Middle Eastern civilization. From its inception in 1966 with 50 founding members, MESA has increased its membership to more than 2,700 and now serves as an umbrella organization for more than sixty institutional members and thirty-nine affiliated organizations. The association is a constituent society of the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Council of Area Studies Associations, and a member of the National Humanities Alliance.
As part of its goal to advance learning, facilitate communication and promote cooperation, MESA sponsors an annual meeting that is a leading international forum for scholarship, intellectual exchange and pedagogical innovation. It is responsible for the International Journal of Middle East Studies, the premiere journal on the region, the MESA Review of Middle East Studies and a biannual newsletter. An awards program recognizes scholarly achievement, service to the profession and exemplary student mentoring. MESA is governed by an eight-member Board of Directors elected by the membership.
Read more on: http://mesana.org/about/index.html
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