Forskning under lupen av okkupasjon

Under oppholdet i Palestina avtalte vi et møte med en som kunne fortelle oss mer om hvordan det er å forske i et land hvor alt blir studert og kontrollert av en okkupant. Av hensyn til ønske om anonymitet vil vi ikke nevne personens navn eller nøyaktige arbeidsplass, da redsel for straff fra myndighetene også begrenser hva folk er villige til å fortelle. Av det som blir fortalt, og fra hva vi kan lese selv, forstår vi at forskningsmiljøer ellers i verden og det palestinske har flere likheter, men også veldig ulike utgangspunkt. Personen vi snakker med forteller om hvordan det blir gjort plass til forskning på alt fra medisin til kunst og datateknologi, og at det hos dem jobber omkring 600 ansatte med forskning spesifikt. Det er med andre ord et stort miljø det er snakk om, og dermed mange som rammes av restriksjonene som de siste årene har begrenset forskningen.

Det siste året har nemlig israelske myndigheter innført flere restriksjoner – blant annet en restriksjon om at maks 100 utenlandske personer kan gjeste universiteter på Vestbredden i året for å forske og undervise, og at de kun kan være der 6 måneder av gangen. Det er også restriksjoner på det akademiske nivået til disse gjestene, og emnene de vil kunne undervise og forske innenfor. Dette innebærer at de få som får lov til å komme, ikke kan bli lenge nok til å bli en fullverdig del av en forskningsgruppe, eller til å fullføre forskningsprosjekter. I tillegg til å ramme forskningen direkte er det også innført restriksjoner på internasjonale studenter – israelske myndigheter har innført en grense på 150 utvekslingsstudenter per år, og også disse får kun lov til å bli værende i 6 måneder.

Dette med begrensninger på opphold for internasjonale besøkende gjør seg spesielt gjeldende i forbindelse med forskningsavdelingens konkrete mål. Ifølge personen vi snakket med har de flere, hvor det første de nevner er å øke internasjonalt samarbeid. Et mål de deler med mange andre land, men som også har et ekstra poeng i at de håper internasjonalt samarbeid også vil øke internasjonal solidaritet meg det palestinske folket. Man forstår at målet blir vanskelig å oppnå tatt de tidligere nevnte restriksjonene i betraktning. Da det i tillegg finnes en stolthet i fagmiljøet som gjør terskelen høyere for å invitere samarbeidspartnere til seg, da de palestinske forskerne vet hvilken vei som venter eventuelle samarbeidspartnere i ervervelsen av Visa og spørsmål på flyplassen i Tel Aviv, gjøres det enda vanskeligere å oppnå målet. Heldigvis fortelles det også om allerede eksisterende samarbeid med flere universiteter i Europa, Canada og andre land i Midtøsten – og kun i Norge finnes det flere eksempler ved flere universiteter på samarbeid med palestinske universiteter.

Det andre målet personen fortalte om var målet om å jobbe med prosjekter som tjener samfunnets beste, og som løser problemer spesielt relatert til FNs bærekraftsmål. Men også dette målet forsøkes forhindret – valgfriheten i hva man får forske på begrenses nemlig sterkt av israelske myndigheter. De hindrer forskning ved blant annet å blokkere import av flere stoffer til Vestbredden som de mener kan brukes til å danne eksplosiver. Et eksempel på dette er restriksjonen på import av radioaktivt jod. Dette begrenser klinikken spesielt, da det er et stoff som brukes som en del av behandling ved blant annet høyt stoffskifte og kreft i skjoldbruskkjertelen. Personen vi snakker med forteller at et sykehus i Ramallah, en palestinsk styrt by på Vestbredden, nylig fikk tillatelse til å importere det, men også dette kom med visse restriksjoner.

Problemene med import er heller ikke begrenset til selve varen, men også transport av varer generelt. En annen vi snakket med i forskningsmiljøet fortalte om tilfeller av å måtte vente tre måneder på leveransen av et apparat han behøvde i forskningen, som han mente ville tatt to uker å levere ellers. Er man palestiner som jobber på institusjoner på okkuperte territorier har man muligheten til å bestille ting til adresser utenfor Vestbredden, for så å ta dette med seg til institusjoner på Vestbredden – men også dette blir gjort vanskelig. Vestbredden er full av checkpoints, som gjør at man aldri vet hvilke veier som er stengt og åpne, og noen ganger stenger israelsk militære alle innfartsveier til en by. Dette fører både til at pendling blir gjort vanskeligere, og til at varer som bestilles rett til Vestbredden blir holdt igjen ved checkpoints over lengre tid.

Økonomisk er det heller ikke så mye å glede seg over. Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education er ifølge de vi snakker med ansvarlig for økonomisk støtte til universitetet, men sist de fikk støtte til forskning var i 2018. «We can’t fund your research, we have to feed people», er beskjeden de får da de søker offentlige midler. Begrunnelsen er forståelig, og mangel på økonomisk støtte til helse ellers er synlig også på sykehusene, men det er ingen tvil om at å være avhengig av støtte og donasjoner fra hovedsakelig rike menn er en hemsko for forskermiljøet og en begrensing for hva det forskes på.

Altså er det flere hindringer og utfordrende å forske, men det er likevel få tilfeller av dyktige palestinere som flytter til utlandet for å jobbe der, såkalt brain-drain, da tradisjonelle familieverdier står såpass sentralt i det palestinske samfunnet at de fleste velger å komme tilbake til familien. Heldigvis, da det er viktig at folk blir boende slik at man kan fortsette utviklingen av forskningsmiljøet i Palestina til tross for restriksjonene, som stadig blir flere. Det er ikke å forvente at en skal holde motet oppe under forhold som disse, og målet må være at man skal slippe å måtte tolerere uholdbare restriksjoner for å utøve forskningsarbeid potensielt gunstig for et helt verdenssamfunn. Nylig skrev rektor og viserektor for utdanning ved UiO om plikten vi har for å skape bærekraftige samarbeid med forskning- og utdanningsinstitusjoner i konfliktområder, og vi håper de mener det de sier.

Kilder utover intervjuobjektene:

Om restriksjonene:

https://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2022/7/15/palestinian-universities-are-once-again-under-attack

Om behandling med radioaktivt jod:

https://sml.snl.no/radiojodbehandling

https://oslo-universitetssykehus.no/behandlinger/skjoldbruskkjertelkreft-radioaktiv-behandling

Om stenging av checkpoints:

Om norsk samarbeid med universiteter i konfliktområder:

https://khrono.no/universiteter-i-krigs-og-konfliktsoner-behov-for-mer-kunnskap-og-langsiktig-samarbeid/708481

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