Broadcast Authority Director Disqualifies Radio Campaign for Gaza Students – Silences Former Education Minister Yossi Sarid

· "We all need to learn; Gaza students included," say former Education Minister Yossi Sarid and Israeli authors Yehonatan Geffen and Alona Kimchi in the banned radio ad.

· Broadcast Authority claims that the right to education is "ideologically controversial."
· Gisha appeals refusal to broadcast the advertisement.

"Hello, this is Yossi Sarid. The right to education is a fundamental right. No country in the world may deny this right; Israel also may not deny this right. However, the State of Israel is preventing hundreds of Palestinians from leaving Gaza for studies abroad. In so doing, the government is preventing these young people from becoming all they can and have the right to be. We all need to learn; Gaza students included."
(text of disqualified radio advertisement)

Wed., August 27, 2008 – Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement  filed an appeal today with the Israel Broadcast Authority protesting the refusal to air a radio campaign in which former education minister Yossi Sarid urges the Israeli government to allow Palestinian students from Gaza to go overseas to pursue academic education. In the appeal, Prof. Kenneth Mann, Gisha’s legal advisor, demands that the advertisement, which was disqualified by Broadcast Authority Director-General Motti Shklar, be cleared for broadcast. In the campaign, Yossi Sarid and acclaimed Israeli authors Yehonatan Geffen and Alona Kimchi and call upon the government of Israel to enable hundreds of students from the Gaza Strip to leave Gaza in order to reach their studies abroad.

Gisha sought to buy advertising slots on Israel Radio (Reshet Bet) to broadcast its campaign in advance of the start of the academic school year. However, Gisha was informed that "the director general of the Broadcast Authority does not approve the recording and airing of the campaign in the radio stations of the Voice of Israel since the subject matter of the campaign is politically and ideologically controversial and because the data provided in the commercial are not unequivocal." In the appeal filed this morning Prof. Kenneth Mann argues that "the campaign articulates uncontroversial norms, acknowledging the supreme importance of higher education as well as the duty of the State of Israel to facilitate the realization of aspirations for those seeking to pursue education."

Appendix to News Release:

The wording of the disqualified advertisements:

"Hello, this is Yehonatan Geffen.
"Shortly after completing my military service, I was awarded a scholarship from the British consulate and studied English and English literature for one year in Cambridge, UK. It was there that I met my first girlfriend, Ann, a beautiful blonde girl. Studying in the UK allowed me to make a living from translating plays for the Israeli theatre when I was still a novice, penniless writer.
"Israel’s policy is trapping hundreds of students in Gaza Strip, darkening not just the city but also the minds of young people who aspire to develop and attain knowledge in universities abroad.
"The right to education transcends political borders and conflicts. We all need to learn."

"Hello, this is Alona Kimchi.
"Higher education is a formative experience in developing identity and enlightened values, an experience that we all have the right to. However, the government of Israel is preventing hundreds of Palestinians from leaving Gaza to study abroad.
"Opening the gates for academic education abroad for Gaza students will facilitate the development of an educated, moderate, and peaceful society. We all need to learn; Gaza students included."

Background:

Since June 2007, the closure and other restrictions imposed on the civilian population in Gaza by the Israeli government has prevented hundreds of Palestinian students in Gaza from traveling to the overseas universities to which they have been accepted. In doing so, Israel is violating its obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights law, to protect the rights of those living in occupied territory to freedom of movement and to access education Israel exercises exclusive control over Gaza’s air space and territorial waters and substantial control over its land borders, including the Rafah Crossing with Egypt, which has been closed since June 2007. As the start of the academic school years approaches, Israel has declared that it will let just a few dozen students leave Gaza for study abroad, even though hundreds of student are trapped and at risk of losing their places in overseas universities and the scholarships they have been awarded.