The Birzeit elections, a reflection of public opinion?

Author: Dalal Erekat

Most analysts and writers argue that the Birzeit University elections are an honest and fair measure of the general mood. I even read an article that recalled the strained looks of my father, Saeb Erekat, secretary of the Liberation Organization, as he met journalists after the Islamist bloc’s victory in the Birzeit University elections in 2015. He quotes him saying, “We lost a lot, I can’t give a simple reason for that, but that’s the mindset of the Palestinians.”
I agree with the analysis of the author on the level of election results and the status of factions and currents, but I am sure that the logic and thought of Saeb Erekat confirms that Birzeit University is the winner and that democracy is the biggest winner, and whoever loses has to re-examine many reasons, but the most important thing in Erekat school is to remember what universities are, because they are centers The production of thought and knowledge in the first place, yes this is the natural role of universities.
After the electoral experience, we are reconsidering the role of universities and their duty to teach the fundamentals and skills of communication, which we witnessed in the electoral debate a few days ago, and the shouting, noise and the polemics that were absent logic, absent thought and the absent mind of youth, a scene titled the failure of universities to form knowledge and a culture of dialogue, rational thought was absent. The absence of renewal in the proposal, the absence of national unity, the absence of constructive criticism, the absence of a culture of pluralism, the absence of acceptance of the other and of difference, the lack of influence and persuasion, the absence of the role of universities in graduating a generation of young Palestinians capable of creating the change we desire.
There is a difference between realistic pragmatism and revolutionary romanticism: we cry out for liberation without study, without planning, far from the science of logic and constancy.
The fact that elections have taken place is a source of pride for Birzeit University, where freedom of opinion and expression has been strong, and it is the foundation on which any democratic system is built. We recall here article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, as well as article 19 of the Palestinian Basic Law, which emphasized that freedom of opinion is not violated.
What we have witnessed in the debate on the modalities of freedom of opinion and expression is disturbing and rejected, just as resorting to outcry on anything relating to public opinion is in itself a dilemma that deserves to be approached by universities. The lexicon of the language is rich in correct and sound vocabulary, but there is a percentage that still tends to a method that does not rise to the ethics of the language or the status of university students. .
Students must be trained before the debates… The difference between strategic communication on the one hand, and public relations and propaganda campaigns on the other! Public relations aims to present events, people or institutions in a certain way, regardless of their reality, and propaganda deceives the masses. As for strategic communication, it deals with truth with information documented with figures and reality, and its mission is new and honest storytelling based on the language of facts Strategic communication includes the elements of influence and persuasion. There is no need to shout, nor to prolong, nor to minutely detail, nor to revise. Strategic communication depends on defining the audience, the message and the language; The nature of the audience controls us to use specific language, means, tools and words without others, and message is the content, information or lesson to be communicated, while language is the amount of fluency or complexity of the language used to express ideas, and strategic communication does not neglect body language and gestures.
O misfortune to us, when the trivialization and mockery of others and speech devoid of any thought became a phenomenon included under the item reviewing the freedom of opinion and expression in debates! Universities must strongly reject this and these behaviors must be monitored and corrected. It is unacceptable to be silent at this level of performance. All of us, individuals and universities, are required to act seriously, quickly and truly, ensuring that we redirect the compass that has strayed from its national unitary path, and work to train these students and provide them with the basics of human communication and science that befits the Palestinian people.

The students represent the people, they are the sons of the country. The steadfast Palestinian people are the embodiment of sacrifice and the love of survival. As for the emotion during the debate, unfortunately, all the findings prevailed. This calls for a reassessment of traditional indoctrination education systems that rely on rumination, away from creative critical thinking, and away from evidence-based analysis. I hope what we witnessed in the Birzeit University election debate is not a measure of Palestinian consciousness and patriotism, because the scene is devoid of rationality.
May Shireen Abu Aqleh be the living example from which the younger generation learns to be persuasive with logic with calm and decency, to convey the message and to be a talker!

– Dalal Erekat: Professor of Diplomacy and Strategic Planning, College of Graduate Studies, Arab American University.

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