What does life and education look like in emergencies and war situation? A glimpse into life in the West Bank

An impromptu discussion of OLIVE with Researchers for Palestine in Porthania building and online, 15 December 2023

With the opportunity of Ahmad Al Janazrah, OLIVE* project coordinator for Birzeit University in the West Bank, visiting Finland and the Faculty of Educational Sciences at the University of Helsinki.

During the discussion we had with researchers from different Finnish Universities and Faculties, an overall picture of the bleak situation in the West Bank and Birzeit University came up.

As the war in Gaza, during the visit, was (and is still-at the moment of writing these lines) menacing, its impact is visible, lived and felt to the bone in Ramallah, Hebron, Nablus and other areas in the West Bank. The occupation has always been there. However, now it has unmasked an even more cruel, lethal face.

Life of academics and students is no exception with many getting arrested and killed, no reason or justice. To make matters even worse, academics have to live on reduced salaries because of the war, which comes on top of an already shrinking income.

As the discussion evolves, the focus turns to the need to open up channels for Palestinian voices by reaching out to the Palestinian civil society, artists and other professionals and activists as well as contact with Palestinian unions.

As the attacks and atrocities over human and non-human beings and the environment is ongoing in Gaza and the West Bank, the threats against both ‘nature’ and ‘culture’ and the risk to impoverish the Palestinian people increases.

Women’s agricultural cooperatives in small town around Ramallah are noticeable examples of Palestinian initiative for community development with sustainable ways of production and entrepreneurship. As the olive harvest, a basic ingredient of many of the cooperative’s products, not only has been disrupted but also destroyed, the livelihood of the women and their families is faced with serious and imminent threat.

*OLIVE project, funded by the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Agency of Education, is a partnership between the University of Helsinki, the University of Eastern Finland, Al-Azhar University in Gaza and Birzeit University in the West Bank, Palestine.

Gallery. Women bringing fresh vine leaves, olives, and other products for sale at the open market of Damascus Gate.

Gallery. Damascus Gate (top left) one of the main Gates of the Old City of Jerusalem, is located in the wall on the city’s northwest side. Being an entry point, the area is one of the main focal areas of Palestinian life in Jerusalem.

One Reply to “What does life and education look like in emergencies and war situation? A glimpse into life in the West Bank”

Leave a Reply