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Israel Does not Allow Fulbright Grantees to Leave Gaza (UPDATED)

The State Department has taken Fulbright scholarships away from eight students in Gaza, because of Israeli travel restrictions imposed on the Hamas-ruled part of the Palestinian territory.

Sounds like a PR disaster for Israel and the US due to the lack of cooperation among bureaucratic. The New York Times talks about "longstanding tensions" between the US consulate in Jerusalem and the embassy in Tel Aviv and also says that the Israeli defense department and prime minister's office disagree whether a Fulbright grant is a "humanitarian necessity."

How shall there be any economic and political development in Gaza as well as some pro-American sentiment, if students are not allowed to leave the Gaza prison strip? The New York Times also points out:

Some Israeli lawmakers, who held a hearing on the issue of student movement out of Gaza on Wednesday, expressed anger that their government was failing to promote educational and civil development in a future Palestine given the hundreds of students who had been offered grants by the United States and other Western governments.
"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."

Related posts in the Atlantic Review:

More Iraqi Fulbrighters Seek Asylum
Experiencing America: New Book by Fulbrighters
• Fulbright Workshop on Implementing a Digital Library for the Maghreb

UPDATE: Open Letter by Fulbrighters: Reinstate Fulbright Grants to Students in Gaza

The Petition Site: Help Palestinian Fulbright Grantees Get Exit Visas from Israel.

The BBC reports that the State Department has reinstated Fulbright grants. (HT: Omar)


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Elisabetta on :

Somehow this was omitted:; an oversight, no doubt.

Martin on :

That was five years ago. Why do you want to punish some students for what others did? I assume you are a strong believer in collective punishment. I think you should not be allowed to travel because some of your compatriots are responsible for the massacres of My Lai and Haditha.

Martin on :

And Abu Ghraib and Hiroshima etc.

Elisabetta on :

Excellent. No one lights a candle for the poor shlebs that traveled around the world in inhospitable climes and got murdered for their effort, but the refusal of visa permission for 8 "scholars" is letter worthy? Damn, maybe they'll have to go to Germany or France? The horror. Man up, bitches.

Pat Patterson on :

I think it probably is not very good publicity but considering that the Japanese general, Gen. Yahara, designed the defense of Okinawa which caused the allies over 50,000 casualties, was also an exchange student and studied at UCLA and lecture at West Point. One could argue that this type of outreach did the US a fat lot of good. While another Japanese general, Kunio Takagawa, who briefly attended UCLA and Norwich Academy, was instrumental in designing the defenses on Peleliu which was, considering the size of the island and the number of troops involved, the costliest and bloodiest battle the Marines and the Australians fought in the Pacific. It is possible that these exchange programs might have some debatable use but I doubt very seriously if the US would suffer greatly if they ceased.

Zyme on :

It probably would be one-sighted to only count the military failures of such cooperation. Such exchange programs create thousands of excellent (since voluntary) ambassadors for the host country. They return back home and are an ideal contact person for foreign policy, even more so once they have aquired important positions. Regrading military training it would indeed be better to be more cautious. I think these kind of things are limited here to countries we have a strategical partnership with.

Zyme on :

"This policy is not in keeping with international standards or with the moral standards of Jews" Definitely not in keeping with international standards :)

Pamela on :

These students have been vetted - for whatever that's worth. Anyway, today's New York Times reports that somebody kicked butt somewhere - because they are now cleared to come. I'd give a link, but for some reason the NYT site is just not loading for me at the moment.

Omar on :

To be honest, this falls under the "normal" behaviour of Israel. I don't have the exact wording right now, but didn't one Israeli politician say, they would want to let Gazans "hunger, but not die"? Well, anyway, it seems the US consulate is trying to get the students out anyway.. Let's see if they succeed:

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