school in nablus

in some ways students in one country are not altogether different from students in other countries. i have taught in the u.s., ghana, palestine, jordan, and lebanon. there are always students who look for ways to get out of work, to take the easy way out, to make excuses. my philosophy when it comes to these things is to treat students as adults (because, of course, they are). if they have to leave my class, if they cannot come to class, if they are late those are things for them to deal with. i take attendance because universities want such statistics, but i don’t believe in excused or unexcused absences. i believe that students who want to learn come to class having done the reading and discuss the readings. a student who comes to class but says nothing is as absent for me as a student who never came to class at all. i think that part of this is about taking responsibility for one’s actions, one’s choices, one’s decisions, something that college students need to learn how to do where ever they are.

of course, in palestine things like tardiness and absence become more complicated. i have students, for instance, who have spent time in jail and have not been able to come to class. i have students who are stopped at checkpoints and who come late to class. students who must pass through especially harsh checkpoints on the way to university must leave hours ahead of time and even then it does not mean they will arrive at school on time. this morning one of my students, who is from a village just a few kilometers away from nablus, wrote me a note while waiting at a checkpoint. here is what he said:

in the last 7 years at beiteba checkpoint:

soldiers have stopped us for every day for 3.5 hours on the way to nablus and on our way home. they stop us for a total of 3.5 hours every day.

a year has 365 days. if we subtract 90 days for fridays and saturdays, there are 275 days in the year.

if we multiply 3.5 hours by 275 days we get 962.5 hours spent in a checkpoint during the average year.

if we multiply 962.5 hours by 7 (for the last 7 years) we get 6,737.5 hours in 7 years. if we divide that by 24 we get 280.7 days.

in other words, nearly a year is lost from our lives because we are forced to stop at the checkpoint every day for 3.5 hours.

of course, students are not the only ones subjected to this. this applies to all palestinians, though more so to men than to women. and this is especially true for those traveling in and out of nablus. and checkpoints are added every day; often you do not know where they will be as with this new one outside of nablus:

Israeli troops erected a checkpoint on Tuesday morning at an intersection at the village of Beita, south of the West Bank city of Nablus.

Witnesses reported to Ma’an that soldiers are stopping and searching Palestinians’ cars, before they reach another checkpoint farther down the road, in the village of Za’tara.

most palestinians from in and around nablus, however, cannot even pass the checkpoints to leave the area. they are prisoners inside the nablus district. though there are rumors that this will soon be over (i doubt it: this is like israeli terrorists saying they will release prisoners and then work extra hard to kidnap hundreds of new palestinian political prisoners in the middle of the night):

Israel is reconsidering a policy that bans thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank city of Nablus from working in Israel or travelling, the Israeli Liaison Office at the Huwwara military base has told locals.

Recently the Liaison Office has summoned dozens of Nablus residents to Huwwara, south of the city, to inform them that they can once again apply for permits.

The Palestinian Liaison Department, responsible for communicating with the Israeli side, said that initial reports that Israel was considering reversing the “security ban” policy were exaggerated.

Sources at the Liaison Department said Israel has formed a committee to examine the issue. The committee is first meeting on Thursday to consider a trial stage in which security bans would be lifted from residents of the village of Qusra, south of Nablus.

and that kidnapping/raiding/invasion terrorism that happens all over the west bank every night always happens in and around nablus:

Israeli forces invaded the West Bank city of Nablus early on Tuesday, raided a school and a local television station, and seized two people.

Witnesses told Ma’an that more than 30 Israeli military vehicles entered the Old City and the surrounding neighborhoods at 12:30am.

The soldiers destroyed the front doors of stores on An-Naser Street and other areas. The soldiers also raided the Thafer Al-Masri School near Ras Al-Ein in Nablus.

Israeli troops stormed the Asia TV station and imprisoned the director of the station, Ayman Al-Qadiri, and two employees in one room. Al-Qadiri said more than 25 soldiers also raided his home, which is in the same building as the television studio, and detained his family along with him and the employees until the soldiers left in the morning.

Al-Qadiri said that no equipment was confiscated, but that the soldiers switched off all the broadcasting equipment, and used the studio as a lookout position to monitor the nearby school as they were searching it.

Meanwhile, local sources told Ma’an Israeli forces stormed the house of Imad Qandil in the Old City and set off an explosive device in the kitchen, claiming that there was a tunnel under the house.

Israeli forces detained 18-year-old Samer Imad Qandil and his 20-year-old brother, Ghazi. Soldiers stormed dozens of houses in the area.

yes, schools here–and students–just like in gaza and everywhere else in palestine, are always under attack. a few months ago i blogged about education in nablus and i posted the first part of a series, “two schools in nablus” on al jazeera english’s witness hosted by rageh omaar on the subject. there was a sequel, a follow up to the original program from 2007 in which we can see how the students and faculty are doing one year later. this second part comes in many parts, but it is a really good picture of life here in nablus–not only the schools themselves, but the kind of difficulties teachers and students alike face when it comes to checkpoints, imprisonment, invasions, resistance. here is the series:

Part One: The Return

Part Two: The Journeys

Part Three: The Goal

Part Four: Return to Nablus

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