Posted by: sean | May 30, 2008

Israel blocks fulbright scholars

The US government has had to rescind the Fulbright awards for the 7 students in Gaza who won the awards, because Israel won’t let them leave the territory:

The American State Department has withdrawn all Fulbright grants to Palestinian students in Gaza hoping to pursue advanced degrees at American institutions this fall because Israel has not granted them permission to leave.

…The study grants notwithstanding, the Israeli officials argued that the policy of isolating Gaza was working, that Palestinians here were starting to lose faith in Hamas’s ability to rule because of the hardships of life.

…”We are fighting the regime in Gaza that does its utmost to kill our citizens and destroy our schools and our colleges,” said Yuval Steinitz, a lawmaker from the opposition Likud Party. “So I don’t think we should allow students from Gaza to go anywhere. Gaza is under siege, and rightly so, and it is up to the Gazans to change the regime or its behavior.”

Hadeel Abukwaik, a 23-year-old engineering software instructor in Gaza, had hoped to do graduate work in the United States this fall on the Fulbright that she thought was hers. She had stayed in Gaza this past winter when its metal border fence was destroyed and tens of thousands of Gazans poured into Egypt, including her sister, because the agency administering the Fulbright told her she would get the grant only if she stayed put. She lives alone in Gaza where she was sent to study because the cost is low; her parents, Palestinian refugees, live in Dubai.

“I stayed to get my scholarship,” she said. “Now I am desperate.”

Now I’m no expert on Islamic militancy, but I’m pretty sure that desperation isn’t exactly the quickest route to winning hearts and minds.

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