Education, Occupation &

Liberation Programme
The Education, Occupation & Liberation programme marks Fobzu’s 40th anniversary and is co-hosted with the University and College Union (UCU).

The series of lectures and seminars brings together Palestinian, UK and international scholars, students and practitioners to explore the challenges facing Palestinian education and its role in creating a free and flourishing Palestine. Speakers consider the struggle of Palestinian students and educators, approaches to liberation education and the contribution of Palestine to decolonising curricula in the UK.

The Education, Occupation & Liberation programme is made possible thanks to the estate of the late Sarah Hayward.

Maintaining Hope and Humanity in Gaza

Dr Yasser Abu Jamei, Director General, Gaza Community Mental Health Programme


Chair: Dr Martin Kemp, UK-Palestine Mental Health Network


Fobzu is honoured to present a lecture co-organised with the UK-Palestinian Mental Health Network, featuring Dr Yasser Abu Jamei, Director General of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme.

Dr Abu Jamei's presentation combines hard data with individual stories of how the ongoing blockade and bombardment affect the lives and mental health of children, parents, and health practitioners in the Gaza Strip. His examples bring to life individuals and communities trying to maintain daily and family life in conditions of ongoing and repeated threat and destruction.

Within this landscape, Gaza's mental health practitioners use their skills to develop ways of instilling hope and offer support to repeatedly traumatised people. 

We also have a video of the post-lecture conversation between Dr Yasser Abu Jamei  and Dr Martin Kemp.

In this conversation Dr Abu Jamei vividly describes the impact of the blockade and bombardment on the daily lives and mental health of the people of Gaza.

Isolating Palestinian Higher Education:

New restrictions on Palestinian universities under occupation

Professor Beshara Doumani, Birzeit University

Dr Hassan Jabareen, Adalah

Chair: Dr Donna Baillie, Fobzu


In March 2022, Israeli military authorities issued a new directive governing entry and residence in the occupied West Bank. Implementation of the new policy, which represents a major escalation of repressive measures against Palestinian universities, was delayed but came into effect on 20th October. 

The new regulations require international students and faculty to demonstrate that they meet other criteria set by Israeli military authorities, breaching both Palestinian sovereign rights, the autonomy of Palestinian universities and undermining Palestinian academic freedom.

The speakers discuss the latest steps taken by the Israeli military authorities to isolate Palestinian higher education and their impact on Palestinian universities.

Professor Beshara Doumani is President of Birzeit University

Dr Hassan Jabareen is the Founding Director of Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel

Dr Donna Baillie is Chair of the Board of Trustees of Fobzu

Ecumenical Palestine, Colonialism and Education

Professor Ussama Makdisi, Rice University

Chair: Dr Mezna Qato, Cambridge University


Professor Ussama Makdisi's (Rice University) talk on 'Ecumenical Palestine, Colonialism and Education' challenges caricatures of the Arab world as a region dominated by age-old religious and ethnic sectarianism. Drawing from his new book ‘Age of Coexistence: The Ecumenical Frame and the Making of the Modern Arab World’ (2019, University of California Press), Professor Makdisi uncovers the origins and development of a rich culture of anti-sectarian pluralism in Palestine in the late Ottoman period which came under attack with the arrival of European colonialism. From British colonial education policy designed to train Palestinians solely for agricultural work and curtail their struggle for self-determination, to the Arab educationalists determined to foster an anti-colonial culture of coexistence, Professor Makdisi's talk sheds new light on this critical period of Palestinian and Arab education history.

Ussama Makdisi is Professor of History and the first holder of the Arab-American Educational Foundation Chair of Arab Studies at Rice University.

Mezna Qato (Chair) is the Margaret Anstee Centre Fellow at Newnham College, Cambridge.


Decolonising the Study of Palestine 71 Years after the Nakba

Professor Abdel Razzaq Takriti, University of Houston

Chair: Professor Karma Nabulsi, Oxford University


Award-winning scholar of modern Palestinian and Arab history, Professor Abdel Razzaq Takriti, provides an overview and critique of some of the influential frameworks that have governed the study of Palestine in the western academy. In this talk he argues instead for a liberationist approach, recognising the structural reality of colonialism while centring the Palestinian people and their collective struggle for self-determination and return.

Abdel Razzaq Takriti (D.Phil., Oxford University) is Associate Professor and the inaugural holder of the Arab-American Educational Foundation Chair in Modern Arab History at the University of Houston.  An expert on anticolonialism, revolutions, and transnational movements in Palestine and the Arab world, he is the author of the award-winning book, Monsoon Revolution: Republicans, Sultans, and Empires in Oman, 1965-1976 (Oxford University Press, 2013; paperback edition 2016), and the co-author and co-editor, with Professor Karma Nabulsi, of The Palestinian Revolution website (Oxford University Department of Politics and International Relations, 2017).  Professor Takriti's opinion pieces have appeared in a variety of English and Arabic media outlets including The Guardian, Aljazeera English, Al-Ahram Weekly, Jadaliyya and al-Quds al-Arabi.

Education can be a source of alienation or an instrument of freedom

Dr Samah Jabr, Palestinian Ministry of Health

Chair: Gwyn Daniel, Tavistock Clinic

Samah Jabr, leading Palestinian psychiatrist, writer, and Chair of the Palestinian Mental Health Unit, opened the first event of 2019 in the Education, Occupation & Liberation series with a lecture on the colonial predicament facing the Palestinian people. The event was chaired by Gwyn Daniel, senior psychotherapist at the Tavistock Clinic.

The lecture, entitled ‘Alienation and Freedom: Education in the Struggle for National Liberation’, presented an examination of multiple dimensions of Palestinian alienation, contextualised within the political structure of colonialism, as experienced by Palestinians under occupation and in exile.

The Psychosocial Health of Palestinian Youth: Occupation and Resistance

Professor Rita Giacaman, Birzeit University

Chair: Professor Ann Phoenix, UCL


In our fourth EOL presentation Professor Rita Giacaman addresses the impact of prolonged military occupation on the wellbeing of young Palestinians. In exploring this issue, Professor Giacaman also considers the positive steps Palestinian youth take to resist the oppressive conditions they face. Decades of studying Palestinian psychosocial health has altered the ways Palestinian researchers have understood and measured wellbeing and these innovations are also addressed in the talk.

Professor Rita Giacaman is founder and Director of the Institute of Community and Public Health (ICPH) at Birzeit University in occupied Palestine. During her four decades of scholarship, she has become one of the leading authorities on Palestinian psychosocial wellbeing and public health. Her influential engagement as a researcher and practitioner in the Palestinian social action movement has led to the development of the Palestinian primary health care model. Since 2000, Professor Giacaman has focused on understanding the impact of chronic war-like conditions and excessive exposure to violence on the health and well-being of Palestinians, especially their psychosocial health under occupation; and ways in which interventions can generate active resilience and resistance, especially among youth. She has published her research widely in international journals and scholarly publications.

Palestinian universities under occupation and academic freedom

Dr Mezna Qato, Cambridge University

Professor Roger Heacock, Birzeit University

Dr Adam Hanieh, SOAS

In the third event of the Education, Occupation & Liberation series, Dr Mezna Qato, Professor Roger Heacock and Dr Adam Hanieh examine the continuity and change in structures of control imposed on Palestinian education over the past century and how this has been resisted by Palestinian students and teachers. The event takes place in the context of deteriorating conditions of access for Palestinian higher education under occupation, including

Traditions of Liberation Education

Professor Karma Nabulsi, Oxford University

Chair: Professor Hugh Starkey, UCL


In this second lecture in Fobzu's Education, Occupation & Liberation series, Professor Karma Nabulsi addresses the theme of decolonising education. Examining central questions on the requirements of a decolonisation process, Professor Nabulsi locates answers in the vast repository of anti-colonial struggles: the words, ideas, and practices of those who fought for liberation and equality, and against imperialism and colonialism. When looking at their endeavours, it is clear they succeeded by relying on common principles, building an internationalist solidarity with all who faced a common predicament, while possessing a language and a form of struggle that was remarkably creative in dealing with empire. In this lecture, Karma explores one of these remarkable struggles – that of the Palestinian revolution.

Professor Karma Nabulsi is Fellow in Politics at St Edmund Hall, and Director of Undergraduate Studies at the Department of Politics and IR (DPIR) at the University of Oxford. Her research and publications cover 18th and 19th C political thought, the laws of war, and the politics of Palestinian refugees and representation. In 2017 she completed the Palestinian Revolution, a bilingual Arabic/ English digital research and teaching resource on the Palestinian revolution from the 1950s to 1970s, which she directed and co-edited. Sponsored by the British Academy, and hosted at Oxford’s DPIR, the open access digital humanities resource was a collaborative initiative with museums, universities, research institutes, and scholars from across the global south. Last year Karma won the Guardian Higher Education Network’s ‘Inspiring Leader’ Award; she is UCU Equalities Officer at the university.

Access to Education and Dignity for Palestinian Refugees

Christopher Gunness & Caroline Pontefract (UNRWA)

Chair: Dr Joanna de Groot, UCU President (2017-2018)


In the first of Fobzu’s Education, Occupation & Liberation events, UNRWA Chief Spokesperson Christopher Gunness, and Director of Education Dr Caroline Pontefract talk about UNRWA's role in upholding the rights and dignity of 5 million Palestine refugees through the prism of the young people the agency serves in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

Pin It on Pinterest