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Over 150 academics refuse participation in academic activities at West Bank university; heads of institution urge faculty to oppose boycott.
By Ben Hartman, The Jerusalem Post
January 09, 2011
One hundred sixty-five Israeli academics issued a petition on Sunday in which
they vow not to take part in academic functions at the Ariel University Center
of Samaria, because it lies across the Green Line.
The petition, which
was initiated by Prof. Nir Gov of the Weizmann Institute of Science, says the
educators took part because of their “discomfort in participating in any part of
the academic activities taking place at the college which operates in the
settlement of Ariel.”
According to the petition, the settlement “is not
part of the sovereign territory of the State of Israel, and therefore it is
impossible to require us to work there. Our conscience and our social
responsibility demand that we bring forth an obvious stance on the
The petitioners also say that Ariel “was founded on occupied
territory. Only a few kilometers from the flourishing settlement, Palestinians
live in villages and refugee camps under difficult living conditions, and
lacking basic human rights. Not only do they not have access to higher
education, a number of them don’t even have access to running water.”
contrast between Ariel and the surrounding Palestinian areas constitute “two
different realities that forge an apartheid state,” the petition adds.
was signed by three Israel Prize laureates, Prof. Yehoshua Kolodny (the
Hebrew University/Earth Sciences 2010), Prof. Benjamin Isaac (Tel Aviv
University/ History 2008), and Prof. Itamar Procaccia (Weizmann
Following reports of the petition on Sunday,
Education Ministry Gideon Sa’ar issued a statement in which he criticized
“public debates that are based on attempts to boycott and
Sa’ar called the boycott “a provocation that lacks any
meaning” and questioned the likelihood that the academics would have been part
of any educational proceedings at the university in the first place.
initiative was also criticized by Ariel Mayor Ron Nachman. He told Israel Radio
that he would respond to boycotts with increased construction.
University’s Prof. Rivka Carmi, president of the Committee of University Heads,
distanced herself and her committee from the boycott, saying that those who
signed the petition did not represent any academic institution in Israel. Carmi
also called for academics to avoid such initiatives in the future.
settlement is home to nearly 20,000 Israelis. In August, three dozen
theater actors and workers penned a letter in which they pledged not to perform
at the then-soon-to-be-opened Ariel Center for the Performing Arts because it is
located across the Green Line. Days later, the artists’ boycott was joined by
150 professors and authors who wrote a letter in which they vowed not to work at
the facility either.