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Thursday, July 12, 2007

PalArab Academia: Bir Zeit University

This week, there were violent fights between Hamas and Fatah students at Bir Zeit University, injuring 20 students, and culminating with Fatah security forces arresting the Student Council head who is a member of Hamas.

Bir Zeit, for its part, put out a statement where it claimed that these were very unusual events, that it was a tolerant and liberal university, and that the media shouldn't make such a big deal about the fights.

How tolerant and liberal is Bir Zeit?

Here's a picture of a photo exhibition that was shown at Bir Zeit a couple of years ago:

Portraits of Palestinian suicide bombers on a wall above pictures of Israeli victims and destroyed Israeli buses at an exhibit at the Birzeit University on the outskirts of the West Bank town of Ramallah. Some Palestinian children collect photos of the bombers. ©AP Images/Muhammed Muheisen

In 2003, during student elections, Hamas candidates blew up models of Israeli buses, and during a debate with Fatah candidates they boasted "Hamas activists in this University killed 135 Zionists. How many did Fatah activists from Bir Zeit kill?"
Yehiya Ayyash, a bomb maker also known as the Engineer, was killed by the IDF for his direct involvement in building bombs and explosives. He was a chemistry student at Bir Zeit.

In April 2001, Diya Tawil, a student of Engineering at Bir Zeit University, blew himself up at a bus stop in a Jewish settlement just outside Jerusalem, killing only himself but injuring more than 30.

Izzedine Al-Masri was a journalism student, and she was the planner and driver for the suicide bomber at the Sbarro pizzeria. She is now in an Israeli jail.


Bir Zeit's web page claims that "Birzeit University is the first institution of higher education to be established in Palestine." Notably, it acquired university status while under Israeli rule. Equally notably, Technion was established in Palestine in 1924, and Hebrew University in 1925. But why should we expect the truth to come out of Bir Zeit?