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Proposed study abroad program to Palestine garners excitement

February 12, 2019

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Proposed study abroad program to Palestine garners excitement

A proposed two-week study abroad trip to Palestine review process is being prolonged by administration, according to Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas studies professor Rabab Abdulhadi.

The AMED program intends to send 25 students from various majors, universities and backgrounds to attend lectures at An-Najah National University in Nablus from June 7 to 20.

If approved, this would be the University’s first study abroad program to Palestine.

Saliem Shehadeh, AMED lecturer and co-faculty trip leader, said the proposal was signed after the Nov. 1 deadline by the College of Ethnic Studies Dean Amy Sueyoshi, who then replaced Abdulhadi with race and resistance department Chairperson with Jason Ferreira.

According to emails shared with Xpress, Ferreira did not want to sign off on the trip, but did so only after Abdulhadi persisted.

Shehadeh said once signed, it was then sent to the Office of International Studies, but he is concerned that the review questions sent from Enterprise Risk Management are biased.

Shehadeh said he is concerned that the questions were not sent from any sort of academic oversight committee and are focused on AMED’s academic partnership with An-Najah and the scheduled meeting with the
Israeli Peace Movement.

“Only some of the questions was about format and not content, like the other two were,” Shehadeh said. “It’s been in a really prolonged process — despite that, there is still an immense amount of excitement.”

Noel Madbak, a humanities major in the AMED program, helped organize the Google Docs interest survey to support the proposal.

Madbak, who signed the interest survey herself, said the program has attracted a lot of support from the SF State community.

Students who filled out the interest survey are part of organizations like the General Union of Palestine Students, the Black Student Union, La Raza, MEChxA, Students for  Quality Education, Students for Justice in Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace in Berkeley, Muslim Women Students Association, SKINS and the League of Filipino Students.

“There is a wide, diverse group of students who are all showing interest,” Madbak said. “It’s not just AMED students, although there are, it’s students from all over. There are a lot of people who are interested and excited.”

Shehadeh said the reaction to their announcing of a study abroad program to Palestine at the 2018 SJP national convention hosted by UCLA shows him there is interest.

“It was met with standing ovation,” he said. “It shows there is not just support at SFSU, but students across California and the U.S. not only that, but also in Palestine. They are so excited to have us.”

He said An-Najah University already opened up their classrooms, earmarked professors to come and give guest lectures and offered these students the institutional resources available.

The proposed study abroad program is open to any student enrolled in the CSU, UC or California Community College systems, he said.

So far, the 39 students who have signed up via a Google Docs file have exceeded the limit for this study abroad trip, Madbak said.

According to the proposal shared with Xpress, students will visit Al-Quds, Birzeit, Hebron, Bethlehem and Jenin universities in a trip to old cities and Jerusalem.

Abdulhadi said the 14-day trip is an exploration into culture, history and social justice movements in Palestine and Jerusalem.

She said she is worried that it may be denied amid her ongoing lawsuit against top ranking administrators and various grievances alleging that administration is not providing her with same pay and a reduced workload due to health issues.

She is also concerned that a labor grievance she filed against Sueyoshi and Ferreira, and a discrimination lawsuit she filed against President Leslie Wong and other top-ranking administrators, will affect whether this study abroad program is approved.

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