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484 terrorist prisoners getting degrees in Israeli prisons, in violation of Israeli law
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BA degree earned by terrorist prisoner
involved in murder of Israel's Minister of Tourism 
  • 484 terrorist prisoners are studying for BA degrees in Al-Quds Open University program, in cooperation with the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Education
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  • Terrorist prisoners with academic degrees supervise, test other terrorists, and grade them; lawyers bring in study materials, and bring out grades to be recorded at the university
  • Tuition paid by PLO Commission of Prisoners' Affairs, which is funded by the Palestinian National Fund, recently declared a terror organization by Israel
  • Israeli law prohibits university programs for terrorists in prison, as they constitute a reward for terror
Nan Jacques Zilberdik and Maurice Hirsch
 
Terrorist prisoner Majdi Al-Rimawi, a Palestinian terrorist serving a life sentence for participating in the planning and carrying out of the murder of Israeli Minister of Tourism Rehavam Ze'evi in 2001, has just received a BA degree in prison:
 
"Al-Quds Open University and the [PLO] Commission of Prisoners and Released Prisoners' Affairs yesterday [March 13, 2017] celebrated the graduation of prisoners Majdi Hussein Yusuf Al-Rimawi..."
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 14, 2017]
 
As a response to the Israeli Supreme Court's ruling to uphold the Israeli government decision to prohibit terrorist prisoners from studying for academic degrees, the Palestinian Al-Quds Open University started offering studies to prisoners in March 2016. [Al-Quds, March 1, 2016]
 
The program is based on a "memorandum of understanding with the [PLO] Commission of Prisoners' Affairs and the [PA] Ministry of Education and Higher Education." [The Al-Quds Open University Message, December 2016]
 
Prisoners in general and security prisoners in particular, are only allowed to conduct specific activities permitted to them by Israeli law and the rules of the Israeli Prison Service. In accordance with these, since 2011, security prisoners are no longer permitted to participate in degree courses. 
 
Furthermore, it is important to stress that the Al-Quds Open University program for prisoners is funded by the PLO Commission of Prisoners' Affairs, which is funded by the Palestinian National Fund. The Palestinian National Fund was declared a terror organization by Israel on March 16, 2017.

According to Israeli Supreme Court President Miriam Naor's ruling in 2015, this is a further reason not to allow the studies:
 
"I see no place to intervene in the decision of the [Israeli] Prison Service, according to which it is not obliged to allow prisoners to acquire academic education, despite its importance, if it becomes clear that the funding for this arrives from terror organizations... Transfers of money from terror organizations to prisoners - whether as compensation for the crimes that they committed, or as an incentive to continue ideological activity against the State [of Israel] - are liable to endanger the security of the state."
 
[Further hearing of the Israeli High Court of Justice 204/13, ruling 22, page 19]
 
An article in the Al-Quds Open University newspaper describes how the program bypasses the Israeli Prison Service (IPS):
  • The PLO Commission of Prisoners' Affairs pays tuition
  • Lawyers bring in study materials
  • The university appoints terrorist prisoners with a master's or a doctoral degree to oversee the terrorist students, give tests, and grade them
  • Lawyers bring out grades to be recorded at the university
Director-General of the study program in the PLO Commission of Prisoners' Affairs Muhammad Al-Batta explained the success of the program:
 
"It is not dependent on the whims of the Israeli Prison Service and its steps, but rather is being carried out in direct contact with the academic supervisory committees within the prisons through a lawyer on behalf of the Prisoners' Club (i.e., PA funded organization)."
 
"He explained that the study course materials are being brought in and the grades are being brought out [to be recorded at the university] with the aid of the lawyers. He added: 'This program is being carried out far from the Israeli Prison Service, for it has no connection with it as the books are being brought in by the lawyers, and this is also how the grades are being transferred.' Al-Batta noted that the [PLO] Commission of Prisoners' Affairs is the one funding this program through the payment of tuition."
[The Al-Quds Open University Message, December 2016]
 
The Al-Quds Open University study program is introduced at prisons where lawyers are able to bring in study materials, and where prisoners with academic degrees can form an "academic supervisory committee" to oversee the studies:
 
"Among these important conditions [for setting up the program] are the ability to bring the study course materials into the prison and the presence of at least five prisoners with a master's or doctoral degree who will serve as the program's supervisory committee within the prison. This committee is the one that is responsible before the university, the [PLO] Commission of Prisoners' Affairs, and the [PA] Ministry of Education and Higher Education for all of the processes, the activities, and the supervision of the study process with all of its components, including examinations, transferring the grades to the university, and signing the grade lists."
[The Al-Quds Open University Message, December 2016]
 
President of Al-Quds Open University, Professor Younes Amr, stated that three prisons are involved so far, with a total of 484 prisoner students studying in three main departments: Arabic Language, Islamic Education, and Social Work. The university is hoping to add a fourth prison and reach a total of 600 students.
 
At a ceremony celebrating terrorist Al-Rimawi's degree, Director of Commission of Prisoners' Affairs Issa Karake said the Israeli prisons have become "universities" that "empower our prisoner sons":
 
"We have shattered the life sentence and the prison time, as this is not just an academic certificate but a certificate of hope and a future. This is a part of our philosophy and our efforts to empower our prisoner sons... Through the studies, the prisons have turned into universities in which there are creativity, science, studies, and lectures."
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 14, 2017]

Interestingly, while the program was only initiated in March 2016, only a year later, terrorist Al-Rimawi already obtained a BA degree from Al-Quds Open University.
 
Palestinian Media Watch has reported on other terrorist prisoners who have obtained academic degrees while imprisoned.  
 
PMW has notified the IPS that hundreds of Palestinian terrorist prisoners continue to study for academic degrees in spite of the ban.
  
 
The following are longer excerpts of the reports on the university program for terrorists:
 
Headline: "Al-Quds Open University celebrates the graduation of two prisoners"
"Al-Quds Open University and the [PLO] Commission of Prisoners and Released Prisoners' Affairs yesterday [March 13, 2017] celebrated the graduation of prisoners Majdi Hussein Yusuf Al-Rimawi (i.e., terrorist, participated in murder of Israeli Minister of Tourism Rehavam Ze'evi) and Abd Al-Karim Al-Dayem Fayyad 'Khader' (PMW could not verify the nature of his crimes -Ed.), who are among the first students to graduate the university's program that is meant to provide an education to the prisoners.
The ceremony was held at the university's presidential building in Ramallah, in the presence of the prisoners' families and Director of Commission of Prisoners and Released Prisoners' Affairs Issa Karake...
Karake said: 'Today we have shattered the life sentence and the prison time, as this is not just an academic certificate but a certificate of hope and a future. This is a part of our philosophy and our efforts to empower our prisoner sons, particularly in the shadow of the ongoing attempts of [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu's government to fill their lives with ignorance and boredom.'
He continued: 'Through the studies, the prisons have turned into universities in which there are creativity, science, studies, and lectures.' ...
Prisoner Al-Rimawi is serving a life sentence, while prisoner Fayyad is serving an 18-year sentence. The two of them have been in the occupation's prisons since 2002."
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 14, 2017]
 
Majdi Al-Rimawi- Palestinian terrorist who is serving a life sentence plus 80 years for his participation in the planning and carrying out of the murder of Israeli Minister of Tourism Rehavam Ze'evi in 2001.
 
Headline: "Al-Quds Open University breaks through the fences and provides education to the prisoners behind bars"
"Al-Quds Open University recently opened a prisoners' study program within the [Israeli] prisons, and the number of prisoners who joined it has reached 484 prisoners within three months. Likewise, the forecast is that this number will rise to 600 prisoners by the end of the current year [2017], with another prison joining the program...
Prisoner Maslama Thabet (i.e., terrorist, participated in murder of 2), head of the Al-Quds Open University study program committee in the Rimon Prison, said: 'Al-Quds Open University's prisoners' study program has created an academic awakening within the prison and has proven to the Palestinian prisoners that they, like the rest of the members of the Palestinian people, can turn their tragedy into a reality full of hope and success.' ...
Al-Quds Open University President Professor Younes Amr said to The [Al-Quds Open] University Message (i.e., the university paper) that Al-Quds Open University did not hesitate to sign the memorandum of understanding with the [PLO] Commission of Prisoners' Affairs and the [PA] Ministry of Education and Higher Education, through which the university created a special study program for the prisoners in the prisons according to academic conditions that ensure the transparency of the study process and its results.
Amr said: 'In accordance with this memorandum, which was signed in 2014, the university created three study programs in the Ktzi'ot, Rimon, and Gilboa Prisons, in which 484 students are studying in three main departments: Arabic Language, Islamic Education, and Social Work.' ...
It should be noted that approximately 260 students are currently studying as part of the program at the Ktzi'ot Prison, 163 at the Rimon Prison, and 61 at the Gilboa Prison. This is while the university is currently examining a file that was submitted on behalf of the Eshel Prison, and if it is agreed on, the number of students will reach approximately 600 at the end of the current year...
Director-General of the study program in the [PLO] Commission of Prisoners' Affairs Muhammad Al-Batta... noted that this program, which the commission is carrying out in partnership with Al-Quds Open University, is not dependent on the whims of the Israeli Prison Service and its steps, but rather is being carried out in direct contact with the academic supervisory committees within the prisons through an lawyer on behalf of the Prisoners' Club (i.e., organization funded by the PA). He emphasized that the program is meriting great confidence from the commission and is characterized by precision and transparency. He also emphasized that the supervisory committees within the prisons, the Commission of Prisoners' Affairs, and Al-Quds Open University are working diligently to provide all of the means for the program's success, as it is an extraordinary program that polishes the knowledge of the prisoners and their culture and trains them for professional life.
Regarding the role of the [PLO] Commission of Prisoners' Affairs in the program, Al-Batta said: 'Our role is central, as we constitute a connecting link between the university and the prisoners, because the central guarantee for the success of this program is the coordination with the supervisory committees.' He explained that the study course materials are being brought in and the grades are being brought out [to be recorded at the university] with the aid of the lawyers. He added regarding this: 'This program is being carried out far from the Israeli Prison Service, for it has no connection with it as the books are being brought in by the lawyers, and this is also how the grades are being transferred.'
Al-Batta noted that the [PLO] Commission of Prisoners' Affairs is the one funding this program through the payment of tuition. He also thanked the Al-Quds Open University administration for providing special discounts for the prisoners. On everything regarding the future plans for developing the program, Al-Batta said: 'We hope that the conditions in all of the prisons will allow this, so that we will be able to open similar programs in them.' ...
Dean of Student Affairs Professor Muhammad Shahin... noted that there are conditions for implementing this program that are dependent on the nature of the prison in which it is possible to carry out the program, and particularly on all that is related to the nature of the arrest.
Included among these important conditions are the ability to bring  the study course materials into the prison and the presence of at least five prisoners with a master's or doctoral degree who will serve as the program's supervisory committee within the prison. This committee is the one that is responsible before the university, the [PLO] Commission of Prisoners' Affairs, and the [PA] Ministry of Education and Higher Education for all of the processes, the activities, and the supervision of the study process with all of its components, including examinations, transferring the grades to the university, and signing the grade lists...
Regarding the obstacles that stand in the program's way, Professor Shahin said: 'Because this program is being carried out within the prisons, there are lots of obstacles, and all of them relate to the prison administrations and the fact that they are not cooperating with the program, in contrast to the Hebrew (sic., Israeli) Open University program, with which they are cooperating with full ease.'
He continued: 'This program is being carried out through direct contact between the university and the [PLO] Commission of Prisoners' Affairs and the academic supervisory committees in the prisons, and we have no connection with the [Israeli] prison administrations. If the program was carried out with greater facilitation by the prison administrations, it would strengthen it.' ...
He also noted that the transfer of prisoners [from one prison to another] constitutes a serious problem, particularly when a prisoner transfers from a prison in which there is a program like this to one where there is none. In this case, the studies are frozen until it is possible for him to transfer to a prison that provides this program."
[The Al-Quds Open University Message, December 2016]
 
Maslama Thabet - Palestinian terrorist who participated in the kidnapping and murder of Etgar Zeituni and Motti Dayan in Tulkarem on Jan. 23, 2001, as well as additional terrorist activities. Thabet is serving a 25 year sentence.
 
"Director of the education department in the [PLO] Commission of Prisoners and Released Prisoners' Affairs Sayyaf Abu Saif yesterday [Feb. 29, 2016] announced the opening of registration for Al-Quds Open University, which will take place March 1 - 31, 2016. Abu Saif demanded that relatives of the prisoners in the Gilboa prison begin their children's registration, which will take place under the following conditions: A prisoner who is under arrest (i.e., who has not yet received a sentence) cannot register to this program, the prisoner must have a high school diploma recognized by the [PA] Ministry of Education and Higher education in Ramallah, with an average of 85 or higher, a prisoner whose [prison] sentence is more than three years is allowed to register for the program, except for students for the Al-Quds Open University who can join regardless of the length of their [prison] sentence... The only specializations that can be registered for are social work, the Arab language, Islamic education, and social sciences." 
[Al-Quds, March 1, 2016]

 


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