While many across the world took the October SAT exam a week ago, Palestinians in the West Bank were prevented from sitting for the U.S. college entrance exam. The closure of Israeli customs offices for several Jewish holidays allegedly prevented the tests from reaching the West Bank’s only testing center in Ramallah, AMIDEAST. The College Board had originally sent the exams several weeks earlier.
A two-week delay in administering the SAT may seem insignificant, but understandably, failing to take the test on time can affect students’ ability to meet university admission deadlines. In this case, Palestinian students—already a minority in United States colleges and universities— were similarly disadvantaged by the delay, as confirmed by Mahmoud Amara, principle of the Friends School in Ramallah.
On Wednesday, U.S. State Department Spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland, said that the problem had been resolved. 100 students in the West Bank would now be allowed to sit for the test this weekend. Yet, the issue recasts focus on uncomfortable truths about life under Israeli occupation in Palestine, which have yet to be resolved.
Two Palestinian students at Harvard University recently made this point in an article published in the Harvard Crimson, ‘Israel vs. No. 2 Pencils.’ In the piece, the authors, both alums of Ramallah Friends School, express their frustration with the delay, but more importantly point to a bigger picture of systemic Palestinian disenfranchisement. They state:
This latest SAT episode is merely a symptom of systematic attacks on Palestinian education… By depriving this year’s RFS seniors of the ability to take the SAT, and more broadly hurting Palestinian education, Israel is jeopardizing the academic trajectories of future leaders.
The writers argue that the cancellation of the October SAT exam must be viewed as part of a historical legacy of occupation, one where Palestinian educational institutions are deemed illegal by Israeli occupation forces, where restrictions on mobility (i.e. blockades and curfews) have and continue to infringe on people’s right to an education, and where parents are forced to set up classrooms in private spaces, including in their own homes.
NOTE: The piece referred to in this article has become the number 1 most read piece in the Harvard Crimson. In a single day, there were over 4,200 shares on Facebook.