Roles for Arab Academics in Confronting Israel’s War on Gaza

(The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Al-Fanar Media).

Recently, I attended an online panel discussion, organised by Al-Fanar Media, that tackled the question of “How Can Arab Academics Support the Palestinian Cause?”

In addition to the ideas shared by the participants, including researchers, academics and experts, I will try to share in this article some relevant thoughts and ideas.

The Palestinian Cause

The Palestinian cause is a just and legitimate one, for which the Palestinian people have struggled for decades. Today, the Palestinian people are still subjected to injustice and persecution by the Israeli occupation. Since October 7, when Israel’s latest war in Gaza began, Palestinian academics have been among the thousands who have been killed as a result of relentless Israeli bombardments.

Recently, our colleague Professor Sofyan Abd al-Rahman Othman Taya (Abu Osama; August 20, 1971–December 2, 2023) and his family were killed in an airstrike that destroyed their home. Taya was president of the Islamic University of Gaza and was one of the world’s leading researchers in electromagnetics and optics.

In November, Muhammad Eid Shubair (Abu Malik; March 28, 1946–November 14, 2023), a former president of and a professor of immunology, virology, and microbiology, and a number of his family members were killed in an airstrike.

Likewise, Ibrahim Hamed Al-Astal (Abu Amjad; January 20, 1961–October 23, 2023), a researcher and professor in mathematics curricula and teaching methods and a specialist in technological education in Gaza’s universities and colleges, was killed along with his wife and members of his family. The Palestine Academy of Science and Technology declared that all of them were killed in Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip.

Ways Academics Can Help

In this article, I will outline my vision of what academics in the Arab world and around the world can do for the Palestinian cause.

  • Conveying a True Narrative of the Roots of the Palestinian Cause.

Arab academics must be keen to convey a true picture of the roots of the Palestinian cause, and make clear to the world that this cause is not a product of the moment, but rather a historical issue with ancient roots.

  • Drawing the Features of the Palestinian Cause in Arab Students’ Minds.

Arab academics must ensure that the Palestinian cause is firmly established in the conscience of Arab students, and instill in them a love of homeland and a sense of responsibility towards the cause.

  • Advocating for the Palestinian Cause in International Forums.

Arab academics must play an active role in championing the Palestinian cause in international forums and defending the rights of the Palestinian people.

  • Communicating the Palestinian Voice to the World.

Arab academics must ensure that the Palestinian voice is heard in the world. They have to explain to the world the truth about the injustice and persecution the Palestinian people are enduring.

For example, Arab academics specialising in history, anthropology, geography, sociology, and political science can contribute to documenting the Palestinian cause by conducting scientific research on it, each in their specialty. They need to publish their results in peer-reviewed scientific journals, in addition to teaching courses on the Palestinian cause at universities and colleges, to spread awareness among students.

They can also organise workshops and training programs on the Palestinian cause to train students on how to defend and support the Palestinian people.

Arab academics can also participate in international conferences and seminars to present the Palestinian cause to the international community. They can write articles and papers about it, and publish them in various media outlets to increase awareness, as well as support nongovernmental organisations working in Palestine, by providing financial or moral support.

They can also participate in solidarity campaigns with the Palestinian people, such as campaigns to boycott Israeli goods, and other efforts that would spread awareness of this cause, support the Palestinian right to self-determination, and establish an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

To further activate this role, Arab academics can help create a comprehensive information database about the Palestinian cause, including historical documents, studies and research, and media reports, and developing online educational programs about the Palestinian cause to make it available to everyone.

Arab academics can also employ social media to communicate the Palestinian voice to the world. Such means enjoy great popularity among people across the globe. Therefore, it is important to use it to spread information about the Palestinian cause, inform the world of the Israeli occupation’s crimes, and call for the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.

Tarek Kapiel is a faculty member in the Faculty of Science’s Department of Biotechnology at Cairo University. You can contact him at [email protected].

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