Next week I will be attending my graduation, or, as I like to term it, “Ritual Humiliation While Wearing A Floppy Hat”.
Naturally, this ceremony of absurdities is only being undertaken so that my mother can not only pass the day in a swirl of taffeta hats and proud coo-ing, but also so that we might at last remove the God-awful graduation picture that lingers in the office from my undergraduate days.
Each time I forlornly gaze upon that image, the mantra “death-warmed-up” scrolls across my mind.
In short, it is deeply minging, and I have been duly practising a melange of smirks and poses in the bathroom mirror for the past fortnight.
Nevertheless, graduation remains a ritual, and at Doctoral level, one that inspires immense pride in families and friends alike.
Even if family members cannot attend in person, the university’s media capabilities mean that they can purchase a DVD of the ceremony; watch it online; or hammer an array of pictures depicting grimaces and gurns in black gowns to the home walls.
While I mewl plaintively about the quirky be-tassled cap however, I must bear in mind those who wish to attend, but cannot, due to their status as Palestinians.
One such woman is Amneh Badran, who completed her Ph.D. in politics a few months ago, and has previously campaigned vociferously for women’s rights in Jerusalem and the wider occupied territories.
I first encountered Amneh while organising a panel for the annual interdisciplinary conference, and as the subject was ‘War’, she duly submitted an abstract based on her thesis, which explores a comparative case between Palestine/Israel and South Africa, in terms of human rights and segregation.
Duly impressed at the time, I was subsequently bowled over while chairing by her sagacity and ability to convey a crucial issue, without isolating those audience members who may have been of alternate political orientations, or new to the subject.
It was with great regret then, that I discovered this morning that Amneh will not be able to attend her Doctoral graduation ceremony next week due to visa restrictions.
Despite having contacted the consulate in Jerusalem and requested her supervisor to act similarly, Amneh has yet to receive a positive response.
Since then, she has contacted the local Palestine Solidarity Campaign group with the following request:
I wrote an appeal to the consulate in Jerusalem and informed my supervisor in the University. He wrote to the consul. Also, two of my friends who have a connection with an MP are trying to lobby him. If you and others from the university could write to the consul in Jerusalem and / or the ambassador in Amman in support of my right to attend the graduation, it might help.
As the former Director of the Jerusalem Center for Women, Amneh has worked tirelessly to raise awareness for worthy causes.
It is precisely for this reason that her situation cannot pass unnoticed.
Dishearteningly, she is not alone, as the UK launch this week of the Let Palestinians Study campaign attests (more on which will I shall write anon.).
However, if the issue can be tackled one person at a time, then that is the route I shall follow.
For further information and contact details, visit the Palestine Solidarity Campaign website.
[Image via: law_keven.]