On a normal autumn afternoon in 1988, in the living room of a house in the village of Kobar near
This “school” is unlike most schools. There were no morning single file lines, school bells, or cold gray hallways and windows with metal bars. In the school in Kobar, and in others like it, you would study with your twin brother in the same class. Your aunt would be your teacher, or perhaps your neighbor, who was a university student. The class may move to the garden of your classmate’s family if it meant helping them in the harvest. The lesson’s topic itself may change, covering the types of crops that can be planted next season, and how one can guard them from insects.
This extraordinary school—and there were many like it—came into being under exceptional circumstances. It was this context which forced Palestinian society in the
Institutions in Revolt
The first appearance of the educational sector as a part of the nascent Intifada was through the participation of school and university youths, who comprised the revolutionary lifeblood of the uprising. With the start of the Intifada on December 1987, there were more than half a million school students and more than twenty thousand university students in the West Bank and Gaza.1 They were no exception to the rule of Israeli suppression and the subsequent wave of revolutionary upheaval which came as a response to it.
In the first year of the Intifada, 166 students were martyred. In fact, more than half of the martyrs of the Intifada were students. Their involvement in the struggle exacted a significant toll, from arrests, to travel bans, to injuries, and to exile.2
Alongside the students themselves, the educational institutions established by popular initiative became direct targets for the various forms of repression, especially since they served the function of fostering future revolutionaries. Many schools were exposed to violent raids as was the case of Dar al-Tifil, Dar al-Fata Al-laji’a, and Dar al-Awlad in 1988 in Jerusalem. These incursions also resulted in the assault of faculty members, as has happened in the two schools of Falastin al-Thanawiyya and Ibn Sina in Gaza.1
- 1. Ibid, p. 39.
Defeating the “policies of miseducation”
In the early months of the uprising, the effects of perpetual school closure and lack of stability began to take its tool. It went beyond children’s boredom or their parents’ frustration. It was obvious that the void created by the absence of consistent schooling had to be filled quickly.
The Communiques of the Intifada, which were an important platform in directing efforts towards the struggle, were issued by theUnified National Leadership of the Uprising (UNLU). During the initial period of school closures, these statements reflected a desire to bring students and academics to the revolutionary crowd and to benefit the struggle with their energies. This manifested in open calls, as with the uprising’s third statement, which called for the mobilization of student masses “in the revolutionary schools, in the schools of struggle in the streets, to contribute to shaking the earth and burning underneath the soles of the occupation.”