Anyone with a basic knowledge of third-grade math will raise an eyebrow at the mathematical gyrations displayed by the Israeli daily Ha’aretz regarding the efforts to block the certification of Ariel College, located east of the ,67 armistice line, as a full-fledged university. The numbers in their report on academicians’ objections to the new facility just don’t jive.
The headline reads:
Thousands of academics against turning Ariel College into a University
The first line of the opening paragraph reads:
About a thousand academic scholars, including 18 Israel Prize laureates, signed a petition calling to stop the process of transforming the University Center in Ariel into a fully-recognized university.
The second sentence in that same opening paragraph reads:
The petition was sent last month to Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar bearing 300 signatures.
This reminds me of the story of the guy who comes running into town screaming that he’d been chased by a thousand wolves.
“A thousand wolves, are you sure?” the townspeople ask him.
“Fine, not a thousand, but 500 wolves is plenty scary,” says the man.
“Really? 500 wolves? That sounds like a whole lot for these parts…”
“Maybe there were fewer, but, trust me, even 100 wolves are a frightening thing to behold…”
“And you’re sure, there were 100 wolves there?”
“Could be 20…”
“As many as 20, you’re saying?”
“Maybe fewer… Maybe just three wolves, but fierce, hungry wolves each one of them!”
“You actually saw three wolves?”
“Well, who do you think was making those noises in the bushes?”
If the number of objectors to Ariel’s recognition as a university hovers around 300 – unless a few of them had signed without knowing it, those things have happened – then the folks at the new university have nothing to fear.
The petition drive has been the brainchild of Prof. Nir Gov, of the Weizmann Institute. Gov told Ha’aretz: “When did the Council for Higher Education decide that another university was needed in Israel? Who said that Ariel is the college that can most efficiently become an official research university in Israel?”
Turns out it was at least four of Gov’s own colleagues, who were cited by Ha’aretz as opposing the petition: Israel Prize laureate Prof. Meir Wilchek, of the Weizmann Institute, who is a member of the Council for Higher Education of Judea and Samaria, along with Nobel Prize laureate Prof. Yisrael Aumann, and three other professors, who told the paper yesterday: “We examined Ariel academically and we found that, from the point of view of the quality of the scientists there, they are no less good than the scientists who signed the petition.”
In the end, it’s down to location, location, location. What bugs Prof. Gov and his 299 (if that many) supporters, is the fact that a thriving Jewish center east of the green line is thriving even more, to the point where it is able to compete for cultural influence on the academic level. The same Prof. Gov would never have dreamed of saying “When did the Council for Higher Education decide that another university was needed in Israel?” if the center in question was in Arab Taibe, or in Druze Usafia.
It’s Jewish Ariel in Samaria that gets this scientist’s goat. Too bad Ha’aretz can’t hire night editors with a better grasp of elementary math. Perhaps they should start hiring Ariel graduates.