Zohair Abu Shahan is among the hundreds of Gaza students who have been awarded scholarships to attend colleges in Europe or and United States but are prevented from leaving due to Israel regulations. Mr. Shahan won a Fulbright scholarship to attend the University of Connecticut and after losing that chance gained a scholarship to an English university after Israeli officials informed American officials he was a security risk. Mr. Shahan actually got on a bus that was halted at the Gaza border because connecting buses never arrived. His younger brothers have now lost hope in the power of education and will not pursue earlier dreams of attending a western university.
I feel deep connections to these Muslim students who are persecuted by an ignorant and short-sighted Israel government. If any nation in the world should oppose denying education to young people it is Israel. It was not that long ago, even in nations like the United States, quota systems limited Jewish youth access to college and housing restrictions denied them access to suburban communities. It was always the dream of education which drove so many poor Jewish children in nations like the United States and the UK. And, today, Israel denies access to education to poor children of Gaza because they are Muslims
One wonders what runs through the minds of Israel officials who deny a Gaza resident the opportunity to study at the University of Connecticut where he would interact with Jewish students and professors and form bonds of friendship. Instead, they apparently believe Israel’s security is furthered by making him bitter, and by denying him education compelling Mr. Shahan to remain in Gaza where he undoubtedly will spend time with other bitter students and become more radical. There is something both morally and intellectually sick about Israel leaders.