More than 200 Israeli academics on Tuesday signed a petition calling on Israel’s Council for Higher Education to reject the government’s plan to apply Israeli law on academic institutions of higher learning in Judea and Samaria.
Currently, academic institutions beyond the green line fall under the jurisdiction of the Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria, but earlier this month the Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved a bill that would apply Israeli law to Ariel University and other academic institutions of higher learning in Judea and Samaria, thus incorporating them into the Council for Higher Education in Israel (CHE).
“Ariel University is situated in an area that has a sharp separation between Palestinian residents and the settler community,” read the letter addressed to the members of the CHE that was published in Ha’aretz on Tuesday, arguing that “annexing Ariel University to Israel turns the entire Israeli academia into an active partner in the occupation, as it is defined in Europe and in other places in the world.”
The letter continued: “Therefore, we are calling on you not to be a partner in the decision of the Ministerial Committee, and to prevent this move that has grave implications to the distinguished Israeli academia and academics in universities and colleges that are within the borders of the State of Israel.”
The letter was signed by academics from 15 different Israeli universities and colleges, with the majority coming from Hebrew University, Tel-Aviv University and Ben-Gurion University.
“This is BDS from within, and nothing less,” Im Tirtzu Chairman Matan Peleg said in response. “These so-called enlightened academics have joined the ranks of the most vile, anti-Israel advocates in the world who use boycotts as a means to destroy the Jewish state.”
“This is further proof of the urgent need to implement the proposed academic code of ethics, which will restore sanity to Israeli academia,” Peleg concluded.
Every phase in the history of Ariel University has been mired in resistance from the left-leaning academic institutions inside the 1967 border, which saw the new institution as both a rival for state funding and a danger to their relationship with left-leaning academics abroad.
In 2005, when then Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert supported upgrading then Ariel College to university status, both Minister of Education Yuli Tamir (Labor) and the Council for Higher Education in Israel said they would block it, and the council announced that it would not recognize degrees awarded by Ariel University. In December 2012, then Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the IDF Central Command to officially recognize Ariel University as a fully accredited university.
In January 2014, Czech ambassador Tomas Pojar was the first ambassador from an EU country to visit Ariel University.