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On Academia, Politics and Survival in the Middle East


Ariel University

Ariel University
Photo Credit: Michael Jacobson

On Tuesday of this week I received the decision to promote Ariel University Center to the status of “university” from the Council of Higher Education of Judea and Samaria and I ask: why was this institution not established as a “university” in the first place, 30 years ago, in 1982, exactly like all of the other universities? When the cornerstone was laid for each one of the other universities, did they already have libraries, laboratories, researchers, staff members, publications, and international partnerships, so that they could be categorized from the start as “universities”?

And to anyone who is concerned about the Gordian Knot that exists between academia and politics, it is important to note that in the beginning of the month, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) recognized the Islamic University in Gaza as an institution suitable for academic partnership. I don’t know what motivated this honorable organization to recognize a university that was established in territory occupied by a terror organization and which operates under its aegis, but my heart tells me that the matter stems from the economic difficulties of UNESCO, since the United States has ceased funding it, and it is trying to attract Arab oil revenues by recognizing the Islamic University in Gaza. Therefore, if it is permissible for the UN to recognize a university that is operated by a terror organization in territory which it conquered, why do the noble knights of Israeli academia not recognize a university that was established in territory that is not occupied and is administered by a democratic state?

But the most important political message is that which was sent by the Council of Higher Education of Judea and Samaria to our neighbors, which is that we in Israel are here to stay. We will not give in to pressure or to terror, we will not apologize for having returned to our land, and we will not yield our rights to do research and to study wherever we live, just as every other people in the world. We did not apologize for establishing the University of Tel Aviv upon the ruins of Sheikh Munis, and therefore there is no reason to apologize for establishing the University of Ariel in the desert. In the Middle East they accept only those who stand up for their rights and are ready to fight for them, because in this area, only those who are invincible live in peace. Moreover: we are willing to help our neighbors establish a university in any of the Arab cities of Judea and Samaria, in order to develop science and education, and to bring the message of progress to the area which needs it so badly: the Universities of Bir Zeit (near Ramallah) and al-Najah (in Nablus) received the status of university not while under Jordanian occupation but under Israeli “occupation,” in the year 1977, and this carried a political message as well, both to Israelis and to the heads of these institutions.

In conclusion, the establishment of a university in any location is an act charged with political significance, and therefore there is no justification for criticizing any specific institution with the accusation that its establishment is a political act. So to all of those who criticize Ariel University I say: look in the mirror, and as we know, those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

Originally published at http://israelagainstterror.blogspot.co.il/2012/07/mordechai-kedar-on-academia-politics.html

About the Author: Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Ph.D. Bar-Ilan U.) Served for 25 years in IDF Military Intelligence specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. A lecturer in Arabic at Bar-Ilan U., he is also an expert on Israeli Arabs.


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One Response to “On Academia, Politics and Survival in the Middle East”

  1. Toby Stupp says:

    A different way to look at the recognition of Ariel as a Unviersity. Definetly not mainstream.

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