Education for Liberation
We started with 500 schools already, and we are aiming to reach 100 thousand students per year.
Palestinian youth have disproportionately contributed to our decades-old liberation struggle. Their role reached an unprecedented height during the intifada that broke out in 1987 against military occupation and settler-colonial oppression. Soon after, and as part of its relentless attack on Palestinian education Israel gradually shut down all Palestinian universities and schools in the occupied Gaza Strip and West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Colonizing Palestinian minds with hopelessness was Israel’s main objective.
Palestinian educators and students, however, insisted on the right to education by devising alternative “underground” learning spaces – in homes, in mosques and churches, in community centers’ basements – in an inspiring wave of mass defiance of the occupation’s brutal repression. Aside from the basic curriculum, students learned from teachers, parents and each other the rich heritage of Palestinian popular resistance, including sumud (steadfastness), organizing protests and strikes, and boycotting the oppressor’s products, when feasible.
It is that long heritage of rooted popular resistance, along with international anti-colonial and anti-racist struggles, that eventually inspired the BDS movement in 2005. Connecting our liberation struggle not just with other justice struggles but also with the absolute need to end international complicity in Israel’s regime of settler-colonialism and apartheid, the BDS movement was the clearest manifestation of a global, Palestinian-led intifada of sorts.
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Decolonizing our minds is at the heart of this intifada. In 2017, in partnership with the General Union of Palestinian Teachers, the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) launched Education for Liberation, a strategic campaign to effectively engage school students and communities in the struggle for freedom, justice and equality.
Providing community-based training to hundreds of teachers on BDS principles, strategic nonviolent campaigning, and supporting youth initiatives, the campaign has so far impacted over 125,000 students and their wider communities. Student-led BDS campaigns have mushroomed in more than 500 schools, creatively using art, poetry, dabke (folk dance), music, theater, film and other media to mobilize wide boycotts of Israeli products and support for local products.
We have also been working with committed college students to build “BDS Student Clubs” in leading Palestinian universities to offer a space for education and action geared towards local campaigning and international outreach.
After participating in intensive, interactive BDS workshops, BDS clubs’ members organize campus- or community-based campaigns focused on the academic, cultural and economic boycott of complicit institutions and corporations. They mobilize students, faculty and workers’ support to make their universities apartheid free, ensuring that their procurement policies and activities are in harmony with the consensus-based guidelines of the BDS movement.
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We are under no illusion about what more horrors await our people with the rise of overt fascism to Israel’s power. Yet we believe in our people’s, particularly our youth’s, unshakable resolve to resist all oppression and to intensify the struggle for our inherent, inalienable rights. We also believe that your meaningful solidarity is indispensable for this struggle to prevail.