31 May 2008

No Fulbright scholarships for Gaza students

"I regret to inform you that the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs of the US Department of State will not be able to finalise your Fulbright Student Scholarship for 2008."

With those words, in a brief letter from the United States Consulate in Jerusalem, the dreams of seven talented and ambitious young people from Gaza were dashed...

Nonetheless, because of the Israeli blockade of Gaza, not even students sponsored by the US government can leave to further their studies overseas...

“This could be interpreted as collective punishment,” complained Rabbi Michael Melchior, chairman of the Parliament’s education committee, during the hearing. “This policy is not in keeping with international standards or with the moral standards of Jews, who have been subjected to the deprivation of higher education in the past. Even in war, there are rules.” Rabbi Melchior is from the Meimad Party, allied with Labor.

The committee asked the government and military to reconsider the policy and get back to it within two weeks. But even if the policy is changed, the seven Fulbright grantees in Gaza are out of luck for this year. Their letters urged them to reapply next year..."

Further details at the BBC and the New York Times. I will defer adding any editorial commentary. Res ipsa loquitur.

update June 1 from the Jerusalem Post: "Officials in the Prime Minister's Office Saturday night expressed "surprise" at State Department criticism of Israel for reportedly not letting seven Gazan students leave the Gaza Strip on Fulbright scholarships, saying that the State Department did not directly contact the PMO about the issue... Israeli officials said the students would be allowed to leave for their studies."

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