SOAS Academic Board Manipulated by Pro-Palestinian Activists

SOAS Academic Board Manipulated by Pro-Palestinian Activists

12.08.2020

Editorial Note

A Hebrew University program teaching Hebrew to students from SOAS London University was terminated due to pressure from pro-Palestinian groups. Behind the termination is Dr. Yair Wallach, the chair of the Jewish Studies at SOAS, and Dr. Tamar Drukker, a Hebrew lector who both succumbed to Palestinian pressure.

Wallach was trying to conceal his role in the termination, but the protocols of the Academic Board meetings reveal he provided the Board with false and politically motivated information.

In a recent exchange of Tweets with Pinsker Center, a pro-Israel student group in the UK, Wallach accused the Pinsker Centre of circulating unfounded rumors. A day before, Pinsker Center Tweeted that “It has been reported that @SOAS has bowed down to student pressure, and terminated its relationship with @HebrewU. Why should pressure from a minority fringe of activists deprive other students of the opportunity to enrich themselves at a world class institution in Israel?” Wallach responded that he was “disappointed” to see such “unfounded rumors,” claiming that “SOAS’s Year Abroad agreement with the Hebrew University ended as planned. SOAS signed a new agreement with Haifa University. Decision made on academic reasons. That’s it.” He added that the “Programs in both universities are excellent. We chose what seemed to us more suitable.”

Obviously, Wallach was unaware that the Palestinian group “Apartheid Off Campus” was claiming victory for this termination.

Unfortunately, Wallach was not telling the truth. In both January and March 2019, the Academic Board of SOAS convened to discuss the ‘Hebrew Year Abroad.’ Wallach prepared the reports for the two Board meetings, along with Dr. Tamar Drukker, his colleague from Jewish studies. The report is supportive of the Year Abroad program, “The premise of the Year Abroad is to allow students to study the language in an immersive environment, where they encounter it not only in language classes. This is the pedagogical value and logic of the Year Abroad.”

However, Wallach and Drukker informed the Board that “The main objection raised in the case of the Hebrew University is that the campus is on occupied territory.” Because “the campus’s periphery extends into occupied territory (part of the dormitory as well as the sports center). The main campus is not on occupied land (neither the Rothberg institute nor any other Hebrew University teaching facility). EU policy, according to the EU embassy in Israel, is to consider Mt. Scopus Campus as within the 1967 lines, that is, within “Israel proper,” and not to see the campus as located on occupied territory.”

Surprisingly, while Wallach and Drukker announced that Hebrew University is not situated on “occupied land,” they still proposed “two alternative options,” for teaching Hebrew – at the Palestinian Territories universities of Bir Zeit and al-Quds.

The report by Wallach and Drukker stated that “In Bir Zeit, which is in the Palestinian occupied territories, Hebrew is taught as a foreign language. Otherwise, teaching is conducted in Arabic or English.” This was not sufficient because students would have limited exposure to Hebrew. “In that sense, there is no point in sending them on a year abroad in the first place.” The second option was the Al-Quds university. “Teaching in al-Quds is conducted in Arabic, and again, Hebrew would be taught as a foreign language, which defeats the purpose of the year abroad. However, given al-Quds’s location in Jerusalem, at least students would have exposure to Hebrew. Depending on the quality of the program, and how it is tailored and organized, we would have considered such an option, had it existed.” But, according to the report, “there is no Hebrew program advertised in al-Quds. There is no mention of any Hebrew tuition in al-Quds’s website. We have emailed al-Quds to express our interest and to ask if they offer Hebrew, but have not received reply.” The report concluded that “Unfortunately, these are not viable options.”

Wallach and Drukker provided the Academic Board with a misleading proposal as if it was possible to teach Hebrew at Palestinian universities, that are in fact, no-go areas for Israelis. To recall, Amira Hass, the Haaretz pro-Palestinian journalist was asked to leave a conference at Bir-Zeit University, and so was Professor Ilan Pappe, because they were Israelis.

The report states that the proposal to teach Hebrew in Palestinian universities was made by Sai Englert.  Dr. Simon (Sai) Englert is a BDS activist and an anti-Zionist Jew who currently teaches at Leiden University in the Netherlands. He is a socialist-activist who completed his Ph.D. at SOAS in 2018. He researches the changing relationship between the labor movement and the state in Israel under neoliberalism. Englert was recorded on a 5 minutes video discussing how anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism and how the dispute with the Palestinians is all Israel’s fault.  In 2017 Englert was quoted by the BBC as a Jewish Ph.D. student at SOAS and a member of the university’s Palestine Society, who said: “The idea that somehow supporting BDS, supporting boycott etc is a blanket boycott on individuals I think is very dangerous. It’s not. “It’s about saying ‘we don’t want institutional links, economic links, political links with institutions, governments, companies that are complicit in attacks on rights’.” 

This is not surprising, Wallach is a long-standing political activist, he should not have taught Israel Studies at SOAS. For example, he has little appreciation for Israeli Ambassadors. When Israeli ambassador Mark Regev was invited to speak at SOAS, Wallach responded, “I was not in favor of the invitation… Ambassador Regev is not a scholar or a public intellectual. He is a PR speaker representing the viewpoint of his government… but the intellectual value of an address by an official state spokesperson is questionable. This is why I saw little merit in the event. I declined to chair the talk, and advised the organizers to reconsider it.”

Clearly, the SOAS Academic Board has been led by the nose by these pro-Palestinian activists.  This is not the first time that Palestinians recruit Israelis and Jews in their war against Israel. British Universities should not allow radical-political activists to manipulate their decision-making.

https://twitter.com/YairWallach/status/1290958596960903176
Yair Wallach @YairWallach  Aug 5  
Disappointing to see the @PinskerCentre circulate unfounded rumours.
SOAS’s Year Abroad agreement with the Hebrew University ended as planned. SOAS signed a new agreement with Haifa University. Decision made on academic reasons. That’s it.

The Pinsker Centre @PinskerCentre
  Aug 4
It has been reported that @SOAS has bowed down to student pressure, and terminated its relationship with @HebrewU.
Why should pressure from a minority fringe of activists deprive other students of the opportunity to enrich themselves at a world class institution in Israel?
1:31 PM · Aug 5, 2020·

Yair Wallach @YairWallach
Aug 5
Replying to @YairWallach
Programmes in both universities are excellent. We chose what seemed to us more suitable. Year Abroad is suspended due to COVID, will resume in 2021-22.

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https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/opendemocracyuk/exchange-scheme-sends-british-students-occupied-palestinian-territory/

Oxford and other top British universities under fire for sending students to illegal Israeli settlements

Amnesty says the universities are “actively linking themselves to a whole system of illegality, discrimination and exploitation”. Adam RamsayWalid El Houri 3 August 2020  

Leading British universities have been accused of “actively linking themselves to a system of illegality, discrimination and exploitation” by participating in the illegal occupation of East Jerusalem, openDemocracy can reveal.

The institutions, including the universities of Oxford, Manchester, and Leeds, run exchange schemes with The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. As part of the programme, students usually stay in halls of residence in a Palestinian area of Jerusalem illegally occupied by Israeli settlers.

Commenting on universities who take part in the scheme, one legal expert said “universities that believe in human rights, justice and the rule of law should refrain from being partners in projects that undermine international law and ignore the suffering of the victims”.

Munir Nuseibah, assistant professor at the faculty of law at Al Quds University, the Palestinian university in Jerusalem, added: “By participating in this exchange, the universities… disregard the international consensus that East Jerusalem is occupied and that its annexation by Israel is contrary to international law.”

The leading human rights organisation Amnesty International also criticised the universities, saying they are “actively linking themselves to a whole system of illegality, discrimination and exploitation”. 

Kristyan Benedict, Amnesty’s crisis response campaign manager, added: “We’ve been calling for all businesses to cease their operations in Israel’s settlements and the parallels here are stark – a student village is little different to a settlement in its illegality if it’s been built on stolen land.”

‘I felt betrayed’

Speaking to openDemocracy on condition of anonymity, one student who took part in a year abroad scheme arranged by his British university described his shock at discovering that the accommodation provided for him was in occupied East Jerusalem. 

“I really resented being used as a tool for the legitimisation of the occupation”, he said. 

Rob Abrams, a British Jewish graduate from a summer programme at the Rothberg International School, which is part of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said: “I felt like I’d been lied to. I felt very betrayed. I was on a programme where we focussed on supposed coexistence, but there we were on land that, under international law, is an illegal occupation.”

The land in question is Al Samar, which belonged to the village of Lefta and today is referred to as the ‘French Hill’ settlement and hosts the university’s Student Village. This land, and the surroundings of the university in general, have been a site of contention between the Palestinian inhabitants and the university for decades. 

The university has expanded by dispossessing Palestinians of territory, according to experts who have studied the campus. A strategy of policing Palestinians in the surroundings while keeping a pretence of fostering “community relations” has accompanied the expansion, they say.

openDemocracy has spoken to a number of students who have stayed in the student village, who confirmed that residents at the accommodation included students from SOAS, Leeds, and the University of Birmingham, all of whom advertise exchange programmes with the Hebrew University.

The Universities of Durham and Manchester, and University College London offer exchanges with the Hebrew University, and specifically advertise its student village on their websites, despite it being on occupied territory. 

The University of Oxford, Queen Mary’s, University of London, and Trinity and University Colleges in Dublin also advertise years abroad at Hebrew University, but don’t specify on their websites what accommodation is available to students on these programmes, though students who have spent time at the Hebrew University have said that the overwhelming majority of students on years abroad from all universities stay at the student village, and therefore on occupied territory.

‘Segregation’

More than one student who had studied at the Hebrew University described the conditions on the campus as “segregation”. 

“The truth is that Israeli, Palestinian and international students barely interact. The majority of Palestinian students are there at times of the year that there really aren’t that many Israeli students around,” said Rob Abrams. 

“There’s a lot of suspicion and security in between the campus and the Palestinian villages around it. Soldiers regularly harass Palestinans near the student accommodation to keep them segregated and away from… the student village.

A Black student who had attended the university as part of her dance course at a US university also described the living conditions as “segregation”. She added that it was on a tour of the campus after she arrived that she was shown the fenced-off Palestinian area next to the campus.

Speaking to openDemocracy, she said she felt her university hadn’t properly prepared her for the highly racialised context to which it was sending her.

“My Black sisters had some experiences that were traumatic personally,” she said, describing being spat at and stoned in an Orthodox area of Jerusalem. 

Another former student we spoke to said that a far-right student group on campus harassed him after he spoke out about the situation. 

Student campaign

Palestinian SOAS student Yara Derbas, who is a member of the campaign group Apartheid Off Campus, accused the universities of “sending their students to directly take part in the maintenance of war crimes and normalise relationships with institutions which are rooted in the most brutal form of racism in our time: colonialism, apartheid and European supremacy. 

“These programmes should have never been formed in the first place, and they must end immediately.”

More than a hundred students’ union officers have signed a letter condemning the exchange programmes.

In the letter, seen by openDemocracy, they draw a contrast between statements of support for the Black Lives Matter movement from universities and their involvement with Israeli institutions. It says: “It is an undisputed fact that UK universities are actively enabling Israel’s colonial policies against the indigenous people of Palestine.”

The letter continues “eleven UK universities maintain… exchange programmes with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which is not only partially built on illegally occupied land but is also openly and systematically racist against its Palestinian students and staff. Such partnerships effectively mean that many UK exchange students were housed in illegal settlements, contravening any ethical framework and International Law.”

Universities cancel programmes

When openDemocracy contacted the School of Oriental and African Studies to ask about its involvement in the scheme, a spokesperson said that the university had agreed to back out of its arrangement with the Hebrew University at the end of the 2019/20 academic year.

The spokesperson added: “As a result of concerns raised from the SOAS community, SOAS looked at the various options for Hebrew Year Abroad provision, and eventually it was agreed that we would move our provider to Haifa University after this coming academic year.”

The University of West London also responded to our inquiries by announcing that it had cancelled its partnership.

Commenting on these schemes being cancelled, Derbas added: “SOAS and UWL ceasing links with Hebrew University is a milestone in our academic boycott campaign, setting a precedent for other universities in the UK to break their links with Israel’s apartheid regime.”

However, a number of universities defended their schemes. Responding to questions from openDemocracy, a spokesperson for the University of Manchester said:

“These agreements are vital to delivering a world class learning experience to our students and to maintaining an international experience on campus. One of these agreements is with Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which is an internationally widely recognised institution in Israel which in turn has agreements across 27 countries.”

The university confirmed that it didn’t have a formal agreement with any Palestinian university. 

Queen Mary, University of London, confirmed that two of its students have taken part in exchanges with The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, both in 2019, but added that it didn’t hold any information on the accommodation these students stayed in.

A spokesperson for the University of Birmingham said that it has “a robust due diligence process in place, which places student experience at its heart, when considering which partner institutions to work with to host study abroad students. We consider all issues in our review process for renewals and any continuation of agreements with our partners.”

A spokesperson from the University of Leeds said:

“[We have] more than 300 university partners worldwide – enabling [our] students to develop their skills and experience and enhance employability. One of these partnerships is with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

“Having been informed by a student, after their return to Leeds, of an issue relating to their accommodation, we are taking steps to discuss it with our partner university.”

Asked whether any of these partnerships were with Palestinian universities, Leeds confirmed that they weren’t.

Oxford University and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem did not respond to our request for comment. 

Palestinian students behind bars

Meanwhile, Palestiniain students are facing what they have labelled a campaign of arrest by Israeli forces which have targeted more than eighty university and high-school students in the West Bank alone. A letter by the Committee on Academic Freedom of the Middle East Studies Association of North America addressed to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Brigadier General Rasan Alian, head of civil administration in the West Bank, describes the arrests as “a continuation of an undeclared but indisputable Israeli policy of targeting and disrupting Palestinian higher education”.

More recently, the Right to Education campaign at Birzeit University in the West Bank warned that “more than 80 detained students are exposed to an imminent danger as a result of the spread of Coronavirus inside Israeli prisons”, while the campaign of arrests of students continues.   

Krystian Benedict from Amnesty International said: “Palestinian students face numerous obstacles in accessing education – including forced displacement, demolitions, restrictions on movement, attacks and harassment from Israeli settlers. UK universities must not contribute to a system of oppression which routinely violates the right to education of Palestinians.” 

 =========================================================

https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/student-led-palestinian-rights-group-forces-universities-break-ties-illegal-settlement

Student-led Palestinian rights group forces universities to break ties with illegal settlement

03/08/2020

STUDENT campaigners claimed victory today after two universities pulled out of an exchange programme with a university on illegally occupied Palestinian land.

Soas and the University of West London (UWL) have both ended agreements with Israel’s Hebrew University of Jerusalem — partially built on occupied land in the east of the city.

They had come under pressure from the Apartheid Off Campus (AOC) campaign, which has accused British universities of “actively enabling Israel’s colonial policies against the indigenous people of Palestine.”

The programme has been offered at 11 institutions including the universities of Manchester, Oxford and Leeds.

As part of the exchange, British students usually stay in halls of residence in an illegally occupied area of East Jerusalem.

Some students who signed up for the year abroad were not told by their university that they would be staying in an illegal Israeli settlement, according to a report by Open Democracy.

AOC said that the expansion of the university’s Mount Scopus campus has driven the displacement of Palestinians from their land.

Soas announced that it will end its agreement with Hebrew University this year and move the programme to Haifa after concerns were raised by students.

“We decided that Haifa University offers a better option due to the structure of the programme and issues around students’ welfare,” a Soas statement said.

UWL also told Open Democracy that it was ending its involvement in the programme.

British universities have received a letter urging them to pull out of the programme, signed by 120 student union officers.

“Such partnerships effectively mean that many UK exchange students were housed in illegal settlements, contravening any ethical framework and international law,” it says.

But a number of universities, including Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds, have refused to break ties.

The University of Manchester told Open Democracy that its relationship with the Hebrew University is “vital to delivering a world-class learning experience to our students.”

AOC, which was launched in May this year, has vowed to continue mobilising students across the country until “all complicity with Israeli apartheid has ceased.

“It is unacceptable that UK students are sent to study on stolen land while the occupied population are denied their rights and freedom. Our recent victories show that,” it said.

===========================================================

Academic Board 13.03.2019
AB 18/19 4 F
Appendix 1
The options for Hebrew Year Abroad provision
AB is asked to approve the following Report
Executive Summary
ADC requested that the matter of Hebrew Year Abroad be referred to Academic Board for discussion. The Hebrew programme was asked to examine alternatives to the current arrangements with the Hebrew University. This document surveys the options for Year Abroad providers in Israel for the BA degrees in Hebrew and NME Studies. SOAS sends a small number of students each year to the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Potential Hebrew schools were contacted by email and phone to ascertain the level of language provision and assistance they provide for students. This paper also provides a response to the counter-proposal sent in advance of the last Academic Board
Sponsored by Ben Murtagh
Recommendations & Next Steps
The paper outlines a number of options based on teaching suitability, pastoral care and cost while noting political concerns.
The Hebrew section recommends that we continue with the Hebrew University programme based on The suitability of the programme for our students and the degree of pastoral care offered. The best alternative to this is this Kibbutz Ulpan, there will be challenges in agreeing a programme that fits out students needs but there will be cost benefits. We have not yet visited Kibbutz Ulpan and if advised to seek an agreement with this provider a site visit would be necessary. The other non-university providers are seen as unsuitable for reasons explained in the paper. The Universities of Bir Zeit and al-Quds have also been considered but unfortunately these are not viable options.
Academic Board should make a recommendation as to which provider the Hebrew programme should work with for future Hebrew Year Abroad provision.
Financial Impact
The Hebrew University Programme costs $12, 235 for a full year and $8,275 for half a year. Other university providers have a similar cost.
Kibbutz Ulpan costs $1500 for half a year and $3000 for a full year.
£750 has been budgeted (from SLCL) for any necessary visits to sites if directed to establish a relationship with a new provider.
48
Academic Board 13.03.2019
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Appendix 1
Risks
As with any Year Abroad programme the provision of pastoral care by the local provider is key in minimising a variety of risks that might affect student outcomes. The quality of the provision is essential in ensuring a good student learning experience. For these reasons we have focussed on these factors in assessing the suitability of potential providers.
To choose a non-university provider other than Kibbutz Ulpan would increase risks in these two respects. In addition students there would be significant issues for students as they would be unable to apply for student visas with these providers.
Equality implications
Suitable pastoral care is only offered by the Universities and the Kibbutz Ulpan. To partner with a non-university partner which does not offer pastoral care would have implications for some students with specific learning, wellbeing and support needs.
Consultations
Providers listed in the paper have been consulted.
49
Academic Board 13.03.2019
AB 18/19 4 F
Appendix 1
1 March 19
Survey of Year Abroad providers for the BA in Hebrew and Israeli Studies
This document surveys the options for Year Abroad providers in Israel for the BA in Hebrew and Israeli Studies. SOAS sends a small number of students each year to the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The Hebrew programme was asked to examine alternatives to the current arrangements with the Hebrew University. Potential Hebrew schools were contacted by email and phone to ascertain the level of language provision and assistance they provide for students.
The main requirements from Year Abroad providers are on aspects of tuition, quality and pastoral care. At a minimum, providers should offer intensive courses of Hebrew instruction (Ulpan) of 4-6 weeks, followed by an academic term (or two) in levels suitable for our students. Some providers offer additional classes in English on non-language topics and themes, which is an advantage. Providers should provide adequate pastoral care for SOAS students, in welcoming the students and providing support and advice on a variety of issues, such as housing, mental health etc. Providers should offer assistance in obtaining student visas which would allow students one-year visa that would cover the period of study. Providers should have track record in teaching and looking after international students.
The Alternative Proposal document mentioned two alternative options – the Universities of Bir Zeit and al-Quds. Unfortunately these are not viable options.
The premise of the Year abroad is to allow students to study the language in an immersive environment, where they encounter it not only in language classes. This is the pedagogical value and logic of the Year Abroad.
In Bir Zeit, which is in the Palestinian occupied territories, Hebrew is taught as a foreign language. Otherwise, teaching is conducted in Arabic or English. Therefore students would have very limited exposure to Hebrew, and they would not hear Hebrew spoken outside class, unless they travel especially to areas in Israel proper (which would be limited to weekends at best). In that sense, there is no point in sending them on a year abroad in the first place.
The second option mentioned in the document was Al-Quds university. Teaching in a-Quds is conducted in Arabic, and again, Hebrew would be taught as a foreign language, which defeats the purpose of the year abroad. However, given al-Quds’s location in Jerusalem, at least students would have exposure to Hebrew. Depending on the quality of the programme, and how it is tailored and organised, we would have considered such an option, had it existed.
But there is no Hebrew programme advertised in al-Quds. There is no mention of any Hebrew tuition in al-Quds’s website. We have emailed al-Quds to express our interest and to ask if they offer Hebrew, but have not received reply. We also requested more details from Sai Englert, the author of the proposal, but have not heard back.
The options for the Hebrew Year Abroad are therefore outlines as below
Current provider
The Rothberg International School, The Hebrew University Jerusalem
50
Academic Board 13.03.2019
AB 18/19 4 F
Appendix 1
Part of the Hebrew University, The Rothberg International School offers courses for overseas students since 1956. Currently has a student body of over 2000 students a year, from 90 countries.
Students who go to Israel for the full-year take a summer intensive Hebrew course, followed by two academic semesters, in which they have between 8-12 hours of Hebrew instruction a week alongside other courses taught in English for them to choose.
Students who do a Year Abroad between two countries come to Israel in January and do a four-week intensive Hebrew course before joining the other students for the spring semester.
Students can apply for accommodation at university dorms, and receive pastoral care assistance 24/7. An emergency number is available for students at all hours.
Registration for the programme entitles students to apply for a student visa.
Cost:
Full year: $12,235
Half year: $8,275
(discounted fees to SOAS students by agreement with the Rothberg International School)
Alternative University providers offering a similar programme –
1. Ben Gurion University of the Negev
Full year tuition $12,700
Half year: $8,700
Tuition Fees for all Semester or Year-Long Programs include weekly social activities, academic field trips, trips around Israel, access to the university sports center & health insurance.
2. Tel Aviv university
Full year tuition: $12,950
Half year: $8,700
Program Trips, student activities, facility fees and health insurance are all included in the tuition fees quoted above.
3. Haifa University:
Full year tuition: $12,300
Half year: $8,400
Foreign students registered for full time education in Israeli universities can get a student visa, valid for one year.
Non university providers – different programme 51
Academic Board 13.03.2019
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Appendix 1
The only non-University provider to meet SOAS minimum requirements, in terms of student support and pastoral care, is Kibbutz Ulpan – Ulpan Eztion Kibbutz Tzuba. This programme differs from university ones and does not easily correspond to UK academic year, and so would require special tailoring.
This programme runs for 5 months, twice a year (starting in May or October).
Students study Hebrew for 25 hours a week and work 24 hours a week, either in the kibbutz, or as interns in Jerusalem. They are not paid for their work, but are provided with free accommodation on the kibbutz, three meals a day, and there is pastoral care 24/7.
The programme is aimed at university graduates, and the same language school also trains the British diplomatic staff in Israel.
Students registered on this programme are eligible to apply for a student visa and the kibbutz movement hosting the programme can facilitate this procedure.
Cost, for a five months programme
5500 NIS (approx. $1500)
The dates for this programme do not correspond easily with our academic year. Based on a conversation with the manager, there is a possibility of making adjustments/changes, and requires further discussion.
If this option is to be considered, a site visit would be required to confirm the conditions and teaching arrangement.
Other language schools in Israel – unsuitable alternatives
There are other potential Hebrew language schools in Israel, but they do not meet the requirements in terms of tuition and pastoral care.
Most Hebrew Language teaching institutions are run by the Ministry of Education/Ministry of Absorption [of immigrants] and are mainly designated for new immigrants, not foreign students.
There are some private Hebrew language teaching providers (ulpans), such as Ulpan Milah (Jerusalem), Gordon (Tel Aviv) Etzion (Raanana). These schools provide language tuition only, are not geared to provide assistance for students, and are not interested in taking such role in an arrangement with SOAS.
They normally offer between 4-5 hours of language tuition a day, 4-5 days a week (20-25 hours).
Students registered for a full-time Hebrew language programme in a private ulpan cannot apply for a student visa and will need to enter Israel as tourist, with a three-months visa only.
Ulpan Milah, Jeursalem:
Three months term – four mornings a week, four hours a day
Cost: NIS3480 (about $950).
There are no facilities to offer dorms, no social activities, no health insurance nor pastoral care/support 24/7.
Similar provisions at Gordon Ulpan, Tel Aviv and Ulpan Etzion, Raanana
Political objections 52
Academic Board 13.03.2019
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Appendix 1
The main objection raised in the case of the Hebrew University is that the campus is on occupied territory. As explained in previous document, the campus’s periphery extends into occupied territory (part of the dormitory as well as the sports centre). The main campus is not on occupied land (neither the Rothberg institute nor any other Hebrew University teaching facility). EU policy, according to the EU embassy in Israel, is to consider Mt. Scopus Campus as within the 1967 lines, that is, within “Israel proper”, and not to see the campus as located on occupied territory.
All other universities and schools referred to here are within Israel proper, the 1967 lines.
Summary
University schools for international students are the most suitable providers for Hebrew Year Abroad in Israel. Of these, the Hebrew University is in our view the best option in pedagogic terms, and its fees are comparable to other universities in Israel (similar or slightly cheaper).
Private Hebrew schools do not meet the requirements for Study Abroad providers. They do not provide any pastoral care for students, are not set up to provide such assistance, whether in terms of housing and dormitories, mental health, or any other assistance.
The most obvious problem is the issue of visa. These private schools cannot offer assistance in obtaining one year student visas, which means that students would enter the country on a three months tourist visas – shorter than their programme. This is not a viable option.
The only non-University provider which meets the requirements in terms of pastoral care is the Kibbutz Ulpan. However their programme would have to be tailored, particularly for students who do a shared year abroad to ensure they can spend sufficient time in Israel for their half Year Abroad.
This report was prepared by Dr. Tamar Drukker, Senior Lector in Hebrew, and Dr. Yair Wallach, Senior Lecturer in Israeli Studies. 

Academic Board 30.01.19
AB 18/19 3E
Appendix 3
The options for Hebrew Year Abroad provision
AB is asked to consider the following Report
Executive Summary
ADC requested that the matter of Hebrew Year Abroad be referred to Academic Board for discussion. The Hebrew programme was asked to examine alternatives to the current arrangements with the Hebrew University. This document surveys the options for Year Abroad providers in Israel for the BA degrees in Hebrew and NME Studies. SOAS sends a small number of students each year to the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Potential Hebrew schools were contacted by email and phone to ascertain the level of language provision and assistance they provide for students.
Sponsored by Ben Murtagh
Recommendations & Next Steps
The paper outlines a number of options based on teaching suitability, pastoral care and cost while noting political concerns.
The Hebrew section recommends that we continue with the Hebrew University programme based on The suitability of the programme for our students and the degree of pastoral care offered. The best alternative to this is this Kibbutz Ulpan, there will be challenges in agreeing a programme that fits out students needs but there will be cost benefits. We have not yet visited Kibbutz Ulpan and if advised to seek an agreement with this provider a site visit would be necessary. The other non-university providers are seen as unsuitable for reasons explained in the paper.
Academic Board should make a recommendation as to which provider the Hebrew programme should work with for future Hebrew Year Abroad provision.
Financial Impact
The Hebrew University Programme costs $12, 235 for a full year and $8,275 for half a year. Other university providers have a similar cost.
Kibbutz Ulpan costs $1500 for half a year and $3000 for a full year.
£750 has been budgeted (from SLCL) for any necessary visits to sites if directed to establish a relationship with a new provider.
Risks
As with any Year Abroad programme the provision of pastoral care by the local provider is 51
Academic Board 30.01.19
AB 18/19 3E
Appendix 3
key in minimising a variety of risks that might affect student outcomes. The quality of the provision is essential in ensuring a good student learning experience. For these reasons we have focussed on these factors in assessing the suitability of potential providers.
To choose a non-university provider other than Kibbutz Ulpan would increase risks in these two respects. In addition students there would be significant issues for students as they would be unable to apply for student visas with these providers.
Equality implications
Suitable pastoral care is only offered by the Universities and the Kibbutz Ulpan. To partner with a non-university partner which does not offer pastoral care would have implications for some students with specific learning, wellbeing and support needs.
Consultations
Providers listed in the paper have been consulted. 52
Academic Board 30.01.19
AB 18/19 3E
Appendix 3
Survey of Year Abroad providers for the BA in Hebrew and Israeli Studies
This document surveys the options for Year Abroad providers in Israel for the BA in Hebrew and Israeli Studies. SOAS sends a small number of students each year to the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The Hebrew programme was asked to examine alternatives to the current arrangements with the Hebrew University. Potential Hebrew schools were contacted by email and phone to ascertain the level of language provision and assistance they provide for students.
The main requirements from Year Abroad providers are on aspects of tuition, quality and pastoral care. At a minimum, providers should offer intensive courses of Hebrew instruction (Ulpan) of 4-6 weeks, followed by an academic term (or two) in levels suitable for our students. Some providers offer additional classes in English on non-language topics and themes, which is an advantage. Providers should provide adequate pastoral care for SOAS students, in welcoming the students and providing support and advice on a variety of issues, such as housing, mental health etc. Providers should offer assistance in obtaining student visas which would allow students one-year visa that would cover the period of study. Providers should have track record in teaching and looking after international students.
Current provider
The Rothberg International School, The Hebrew University Jerusalem
Part of the Hebrew University, The Rothberg International School offers courses for overseas students since 1956. Currently has a student body of over 2000 students a year, from 90 countries.
Students who go to Israel for the full-year take a summer intensive Hebrew course, followed by two academic semesters, in which they have between 8-12 hours of Hebrew instruction a week alongside other courses taught in English for them to choose.
Students who do a Year Abroad between two countries come to Israel in January and do a four-week intensive Hebrew course before joining the other students for the spring semester.
Students can apply for accommodation at university dorms, and receive pastoral care assistance 24/7. An emergency number is available for students at all hours.
Registration for the programme entitles students to apply for a student visa.
Cost:
Full year: $12,235
Half year: $8,275
(discounted fees to SOAS students by agreement with the Rothberg International School)
Alternative University providers offering a similar programme –
1.Ben Gurion University of the Negev
Full year tuition $12,700
Half year: $8,700
Tuition Fees for all Semester or Year-Long Programs include weekly social activities, academic field trips, trips around Israel, access to the university sports center & health insurance. 53
Academic Board 30.01.19
AB 18/19 3E
Appendix 3
2.Tel Aviv university
Full year tuition: $12,950
Half year: $8,700
Program Trips, student activities, facility fees and health insurance are all included in the tuition fees quoted above.
3.Haifa University:
Full year tuition: $12,300
Half year: $8,400
Foreign students registered for full time education in Israeli universities can get a student visa, valid for one year.
Non university providers – different programme
The only non-University provider to meet SOAS minimum requirements, in terms of student support and pastoral care, is Kibbutz Ulpan – Ulpan Eztion Kibbutz Tzuba. This programme differs from university ones and does not easily correspond to UK academic year, and so would require special tailoring.
This programme runs for 5 months, twice a year (starting in May or October).
Students study Hebrew for 25 hours a week and work 24 hours a week, either in the kibbutz, or as interns in Jerusalem. They are not paid for their work, but are provided with free accommodation on the kibbutz, three meals a day, and there is pastoral care 24/7.
The programme is aimed at university graduates, and the same language school also trains the British diplomatic staff in Israel.
Students registered on this programme are eligible to apply for a student visa and the kibbutz movement hosting the programme can facilitate this procedure.
Cost, for a five months programme
5500 NIS (approx. $1500)
The dates for this programme do not correspond easily with our academic year. Based on a conversation with the manager, there is a possibility of making adjustments/changes, and requires further discussion.
If this option is to be considered, a site visit would be required to confirm the conditions and teaching arrangement.
Other language schools in Israel – unsuitable alternatives
There are other potential Hebrew language schools in Israel, but they do not meet the requirements in terms of tuition and pastoral care.
Most Hebrew Language teaching institutions are run by the Ministry of Education/Ministry of Absorption [of immigrants] and are mainly designated for new immigrants, not foreign students. 54
Academic Board 30.01.19
AB 18/19 3E
Appendix 3
There are some private Hebrew language teaching providers (ulpans), such as Ulpan Milah (Jerusalem), Gordon (Tel Aviv) Etzion (Raanana). These schools provide language tuition only, are not geared to provide assistance for students, and are not interested in taking such role in an arrangement with SOAS.
They normally offer between 4-5 hours of language tuition a day, 4-5 days a week (20-25 hours).
Students registered for a full-time Hebrew language programme in a private ulpan cannot apply for a student visa and will need to enter Israel as tourist, with a three-months visa only.
Ulpan Milah, Jeursalem:
Three months term – four mornings a week, four hours a day
Cost: NIS3480 (about $950).
There are no facilities to offer dorms, no social activities, no health insurance nor pastoral care/support 24/7.
Similar provisions at Gordon Ulpan, Tel Aviv and Ulpan Etzion, Raanana
Political objections
The main objection raised in the case of the Hebrew University is that the campus is on occupied territory. As explained in previous document, the campus’s periphery extends into occupied territory (part of the dormitory as well as the sports centre). The main campus is not on occupied land (neither the Rothberg institute nor any other Hebrew University teaching facility). EU policy, according to the EU embassy in Israel, is to consider Mt. Scopus Campus as within the 1967 lines, that is, within “Israel proper”, and not to see the campus as located on occupied territory.
All other universities and schools referred to here are within Israel proper, the 1967 lines.
Summary
University schools for international students are the most suitable providers for Hebrew Year Abroad in Israel. Of these, the Hebrew University is in our view the best option in pedagogic terms, and its fees are comparable to other universities in Israel (similar or slightly cheaper).
Private Hebrew schools do not meet the requirements for Study Abroad providers. They do not provide any pastoral care for students, are not set up to provide such assistance, whether in terms of housing and dormitories, mental health, or any other assistance.
The most obvious problem is the issue of visa. These private schools cannot offer assistance in obtaining one year student visas, which means that students would enter the country on a three months tourist visas – shorter than their programme. This is not a viable option.
The only non-University provider which meets the requirements in terms of pastoral care is the Kibbutz Ulpan. However their programme would have to be tailored, particularly for students who do a shared year abroad to ensure they can spend sufficient time in Israel for their half Year Abroad. 55
Academic Board 30.01.19
AB 18/19 3E
Appendix 3
This report was prepared by Dr. Tamar Drukker, Senior Lector in Hebrew, and Dr. Yair Wallach, Senior Lecturer in Israeli Studies.

===================================

https://soasunion.org/liberation/priority/bds/

Free Palestine and BDS

The SOAS Students Union was the first UK students union to vote for and support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign launched in 2005 by Palestinian civil society organisations. For over 30 years, the SOAS Palestine Society has been one of the most active societies at SOAS. SOAS students have continuously supported the Palestinian struggle for liberation and decolonisation, with SOAS becoming one of the most active campuses in Britain.

In response to the 2005 call, the SOAS Students Union voted to join, support, and campaign for the boycott of Israel. At the October Union General Meeting this academic year (2014/2015), SOAS students decided to escalate their support for BDS. A school-wide referendum has been called for to decide whether SOAS, as an academic institution, should follow the BDS guidelines and join an academic boycott of Israeli institutions and companies. 

SOAS currently has links with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJ), sending Hebrew language students to HUJ for their year abroad. The Hebrew University campus is located on Palestinian land, Jerusalem, which was confiscated in 1968, a practice which began in 1947 and directly contravenes International Law. Furthermore, the Hebrew University has direct links with the University of Ariel, which is based in the West Bank colony of Ariel, and recognises its degrees. Finally the Hebrew University offers preferential treatment to Israeli soldiers who are engaged in the daily human rights violations in Palestine, particularly Gaza, the West Bank, and Jerusalem.

Find HERE a video exposing the military-academic collaboration between the Hebrew University and the Israeli Defence Force.

Find HERE a video showing the response of some students from Hebrew University which explains the situation they live every day on campus.

THE REFERENDUM WILL BE TAKING PLACE AT SOAS IN THE LAST WEEK OF FEBRUARY (23rd-27th)

The referendum will be open to ALL members of the SOAS community: students, academics, cleaners, security guards, caterers, faculty and support staff and management.

The referendum will be asking all members of the SOAS community whether they think SOAS should fully join the BDS campaign and implement academic boycott following the PACBI guidelines  (Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel).

– For more information on day-to-day events, discussions and more information coming up in the next weeks, access the SOAS BDS campaign Facebook page HERE

– For more information on what an Academic Boycott entails, read the guidelines on ‘Why Boycott Israeli Universities,’ issued by the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP) – HERE

This webpage was last updated on: 18 Jan 2015 15:46

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