Congratulations are in order for An-Najah National University (ANU) of Nablus. It heads the list of the top 12 “Palestinian” universities, ranked by an international site that ranks over 11,000 institutions in more than 200 countries. If the supporters of academic boycott against Israel want to find evidence of the horrid suppressive impact of Israel on academic freedom in the PA, they should ignore this university and seek evidence elsewhere.ANU boasts of having over 20,000 students who follow a wide range of courses of study. First operating as an elementary school in 1918, it gradually grew and in 1941 became a college; by 1965 it was a teacher’s college.
In 1967, Jordan lost control of the so-called West Bank in their attempt, as part of a united Arab military campaign, to destroy Israel; in this defensive war, Israel ousted the Jordanians and regained the land, officially named, by the way, Judaea & Samaria. A mere decade later, the teacher’s college had grown to become a full-fledged university with Faculties of Arts and Sciences, all under the watchful eyes of the Israeli so-called “occupation”.
Under the oppressive Israelis, this institute of higher learning expanded to include Faculties of Economics, Administrative Sciences, Educational Sciences and Engineering (1978), Chemistry and Islamic Studies (1985), Pharmacy, Environmental Studies and more (1994), Law (1995), Medicine (1999), Veterinary Medicine, Agricultural Development and Computer Sciences (2000), Information Technology (2001), Optometry and Nursing (2004) and on and on and on. ANU is proud of its science research labs and library facilities and more. You can read about the history of ANU development here.
In 1981, a mere 4 years after the “occupation” began, the first masters programme of study was initiated and ANU received recognition from the World Union of Universities.
This year (2015) the ANU, together with Al-Quds University and Birzeit, received an EU grant to set up masters of Law degree programmes and the ANU website announces that they are looking for a Finance Officer to oversee the administration of the grant. This kind-of nullifies their complaint that Israel severely restricts international academic cooperation. Furthermore, on November 19 of this year, a full-day event was held for those students who wish to study in the United States and want to know how to apply for visas and other useful tips. Guess Israel isn’t preventing “Palestinian” students from travelling abroad to study after all. ANU is proud, in fact, of its student exchange and study abroad programmes, of its online courses and its Arabic language class for foreigners.
The ANU website is also encouraging its faculty to submit papers for consideration for publication in professional journals and to apply to present papers at an international conference to be held in Tunisia in 2016; I suppose that means they do not anticipate any problems getting exit and re-entry visas to attend that conference. Ambitious, the university is trying to develop its own two new professional journals, one in natural sciences and the other in the humanities, attempting to achieve a standard that will allow their journals to be added to professional databases. No small accomplishment for universities operating under “oppressive occupation”, I would say.
It is true that this university has only 1 Phd programme (Chemistry) but it has 36 masters degree programmes. All of this from a teacher’s college in 1965 till now. Remember, in 1993, responsibility for higher education went to the Palestinian Authority under the Oslo Accords signed between Israel and the PA. This means that the foundations of the university were developed under the auspices of the Israeli so-called “occupation”.
Since the PA has responsibility for higher education, it appears that a major factor slowing their pace in catching up to the West lies in budgetary restraints. Abbas was at ANU to inaugurate the New Campus in 2006; I wonder if, in exchange for his honourary law degree he gave the university some of his well-earned-siphoned-off millions that were donated to the PA/him by the congenial European Union. Sharing the riches intended for development would go far in showing that the PA leadership cared at least as much about higher education as they do about stabbing Jews in the back and taking Israelis to the ICC.
Maybe you would like to take advantage of the opportunity to study Arabic at ANU as a foreign exchange student and check out the place for yourself. You can then write and tell us if you find evidence supporting the academic boycott against Israel. That’s all I ask – check it out. If you want to boycott Israel you owe it to yourself.