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University presidents keep mum on Israel's attacks

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University campuses have always been known to be an environment of political activism for social justice and peace, a reputation upheld by students themselves. But when Israel began its bombing attacks on the Gaza Strip, university presidents in Canada started to show a dark side.

While many student unions across the nation have officially condemned Israel’s direct assault on the Palestinian territory, university presidents have shamefully turned their heads away from a situation where dozens of educational institutions have been specifically targeted by Israel’s warplanes, including the science and engineering laboratories of the Islamic University of Gaza, Palestine’s largest university with over 20,000 students. The university was struck just a few days before final exams could begin. The school’s website no longer flash images of student life; it’s been replaced by images of ruined classrooms.  

It’s not a mere coincidence that Israel has strategically targeted educational institutions in the first few days of the offensive; those schools symbolized growth, development and future generations for the impoverished territory. UNICEF stated that student enrolment and test scores have dropped significantly over the years of Israeli occupation.

Yet, no light bulbs have gone off among our Canadian university presidents. Many of them choose to remain silent while others are quick to defend academics who support the Israeli attacks. Not surprising since a number of them took a trip to Israel this past summer to build relationships with the very Israeli educational institutions that continue to support the illegal occupation of Palestine.

This is their dark side. These university presidents are a walking hypocrisy, defending the right to education on one land and disregarding it on another. It seems that Palestinian education takes on a whole different worth to them.

At least somebody has stepped up for the sake of education besides students. CUPE Ontario passed a resolution this past weekend to boycott Israeli universities in the province.

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