NAISA Council Statement of Solidarity with Palestinian Education Autonomy and Academic Freedom

March 24, 2022

The Council of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) writes in support of Birzeit University’s call to action “to defend the Palestinian people’s right to education, free from duress, intervention, and political persecution” in response to Israel’s broader project of settler colonial dispossession and, in particular, their latest assault on Palestinian rights to education and academic freedom. 

Scheduled to take effect in May 2022, the “Procedure for Entry and Residency of Foreigners in Judea and Samaria Region” (‘The Procedure’) grants the Israeli military absolute authority over the admittance of international faculty, academic researchers, and students to teach or study at Palestinian universities. Under this policy, Israeli authorities will; determine which fields of study are permissible and what qualifications are deemed acceptable; require applicants to submit to Israeli investigation at diplomatic missions in countries of origin; and set a limit on the number of foreign teachers and students and the duration of employment. This immediately threatens not only the hiring and promotion of faculty but current faculty and students who do not hold residency permits. The Procedure especially targets Palestinians who are neither citizens nor residents of Israel and are not listed in the Palestinian Population Register. As an occupying power under international law, Israel is obligated to abstain from impeding or harming Palestinian educational development. The Procedure is an additional restriction on access, effectively barring select faculty and students from working, lecturing, researching or studying at Palestinian institutions. As such, the Council of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association strongly opposes The Procedure as Israel’s most recent attempt to restrict Palestinian rights to education and to undermine the freedom and autonomy of Palestinian academic institutions.  

We invite NAISA members to join us in observing a call to: “Work with us to break the siege that these regulations impose on Birzeit and other Palestinian universities. Accept our invitation to teach and learn in Palestine. Help us exercise our basic right to education and to preserve the institutional autonomy that we built over the decades despite all obstacles”. 

In 2013, NAISA Council issued a Declaration of Support for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions to protest, “the infringement of the academic freedom of Indigenous Palestinian academics and intellectuals in the Occupied Territories and Israel who are denied fundamental freedoms of movement, expression, and assembly, which we uphold”. In keeping with this precedent, we now condemn Israeli state practices and policies that further attempt to isolate Palestinian society from the global community and which promote the continued elimination of Palestinians from their homeland. 

The Council of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association call on Israel to abide by international law, which requires it to both protect and facilitate the functioning of Palestinian civil institutions, including higher education. In support of Palestinian educational access and academic freedom, we join our Palestinian colleagues in asserting the right to education and self-determination. Furthermore, we call on the state of Israel to; rescind the new “Procedure for Entry and Residency of Foreigners”; end its entry restrictions based on political speech and Palestinian heritage; and adopt policies that authorize the granting of visas for exchanges and work permits to Palestinian universities on a fully equal basis, as it does with Israeli universities.