Does the wall also need to cut our campus in two?

An emergency appeal by Sari Nusseibeh, Al-Quds University president and member of the Center's board

Al-Quds University, whose major Abu Dis campus straddles the imaginary municipal line dividing Jerusalem from the West Bank, is next on line in Israel's relentless Wall program. Some of the IDF's contracted huge machinery now park in the seized University's main campus grounds, in the middle of the football field. Slated for takeover is almost one third (about seventy dunams) of the University grounds, with a specially preserved pine wood, and areas in which the University had hopes it would develop student sports facilities and a botanical garden.

The University, home to almost 6000 students, has been for the past few years in the forefront of the campaign to encourage Israeli-Palestinian academic cooperation. The University campus has for the most part during the past three years of bloody violence and confrontation been fairly quiet, with students intent whenever allowed to reach the campus on pursuing their research and studies. The ravaging of the campus grounds, and the erection of a high cement wall in its midst blocking the natural view across the valley, cannot but be an indelible statement of enmity, aggression, and political as well as human failure. This negative statement, written in concrete blocks in the face of university students, stands in direct opposition to the positive educational values we try to propagate at the University, such as the necessity of breaking down the barriers of enmity, and the building of bridges of understanding in order to enhance the prospects for peace.

We at the University sadly realize that the Wall is currently an irreversible project, a symbol of the failure of politicians and self-professed peace-makers. However, we believe that it is possible, even obligatory, especially at this campus location, to minimize its negative psychological effects on our student population. The Wall could easily be built further down in the valley, or itself be the western wall of the campus, which we had been prevented by the Municipality so far from building.The presumed security imperative would not be affected by such an adjustment. But the political and psychological damage would be immeasurably reduced.

Help us instill some human and political sensitivity into the IDF's planning department. Speak on our behalf by appealing to the Minister at the following address. Your voice can make the difference. So can your silence.

Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz
Telephone: 972(0)3-697-6663
Fax: 972(0)3-697-6218
sar@mod.gov.il