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Ariel Becomes Israel’s New University of Occupation

ariel college

protest sign–“Ariel College introduces: Occupation Sciences” (Jacob Katriel)

The Israeli government, after debating for five years, has approved the application of Ariel College to be a full national university.  The College (which I will in future call the University of Occupation), is located in the settlement town of Ariel.  Every Israeli university objected strenuously to the College’s effort because they knew that Ariel was substandard academically, that there was no need for another Israeli university, and the campaign was political rather than educational.

But there’s another issue that plays a role here that few are considering (including few in the BDS movement thus far): the upgrade of Ariel is a huge boon to this movement, one of whose calls is for the boycott of Israeli cultural and academic institutions.  By turning Ariel into a university, the government is thumbing its nose at both its own domestic educational apparatus, but also the international education and political communities.  Through this decision, which is entirely political in nature, the BDS movement will now be able to turn to academic institutions around the world and say that in Israel politics and Occupation trump educational priorities:

One Israeli university official said that Ariel was a political college, and that the “absurd” idea to promote it stems from the fact that it has political patronage.

If Israel tells the world that Ariel is on a par with distinguished institutions like Hebrew University, Tel Aviv University, Ben Gurion and University of Haifa, the world will see through this in a heartbeat.  Foreign universities considering affiliations or joint projects with Israeli institutions will have to weigh not only whether they wish to associate with a national educational system that places politics before pedagogy, but whether they can trust the claims of excellence of any Israeli school.  The mediocrity and political nature of Ariel will drag down the high rankings of other Israeli schools.

Or as the caption of the protest sign says in the above photograph: Ariel will proudly introduce to the world the new field of Occupation Sciences.

Not to mention that Ariel will be one of the few universities in the world answerable not to civilian authorities, but to the IDF military commander in the West Bank.  It’s all a big charade, but because the West Bank is not yet formally annexed as Israeli sovereign territory, the state apparently can’t declare itself the proper civil authority guiding Ariel’s affairs.  For that, it calls upon the military authority which administers the region on behalf of the State.  Which means higher education in the Territories is being delivered at the muzzle of a gun?

{ 19 comments… add one }
  • yankel December 25, 2012, 7:03 AM

    Everything in the Occupied Territories (education included) is being delivered – and got – through the muzzle of a gun.

  • Vorimir December 25, 2012, 7:11 AM

    What about the 600 Arabs who study there–a greater percentage than at any other Israeli university?

    • Richard Silverstein December 25, 2012, 9:51 PM

      @Vorimir The Voice of Hasbara…

  • mary December 25, 2012, 8:43 AM

    It’s located in Occupied Palestine. Does this mean Palestinian students can attend?

    • Deïr Yassin December 25, 2012, 9:21 AM

      According to Ariel College’s hasbara yes, according to a Meretz-member of the Knesset no.
      link to 972mag.com

      I read somewhere (maybe the University’s own hasbara ?) that Ariel has the highest % of “Arabs” [i.e. Israeli citizens] of all Israeli universities. Haaretz had an article back in August saying that 500 “Arabs” were already enrolled last year, according to the College.

      • Mary Hughes-Thompson December 25, 2012, 7:00 PM

        So the only “Arabs” who can enroll are also Israeli citizens? Not Palestinians who live in the West Bank?

        • Richard Silverstein December 25, 2012, 9:44 PM

          There are a few Palestinian students there I know. But I strongly doubt Ariel College would allow non-citizens to register for courses.

        • Ohad F December 25, 2012, 10:58 PM

          But why, oh why, would anyone WANT to enroll to a “university” that, as Richard so aptly put it, is accredited by the military and not some academic authority?

          Would it not be in the best interest of the said palestinians to enroll to some distinguished institute run by palestinians and being taught in Arabic, their mother-tongue?

          Of course, alas, no such institute is to be found… but I’m sure that’s Israel fault too, and not, hmm, let me think, the fact that in the 20-odd years since Oslo accord not a single cent of the contribution money granted by the world at large went to develop a thriving, successful academic network.

          • Richard Silverstein December 26, 2012, 1:29 AM

            @Ohad: You’re an idiot. There are of course a number of good universities and colleges in Palestine, both the West Bank & Gaza. They are, of course, supported by donations from many sources including from “the world at large” which you claim hasn’t happened.

            There’s a problem when you’re semi-intelligent as you clearly are and think you have infinite command of facts and argument (which you don’t). You come across as commanding but once you see through the haze you’re nothing but a Wizard surrounded by smoke and mirrors.

            As to why those 500 Israeli Palestinians might want to enroll in Ariel–why because it’s a State-founded school and they’re citizens of that State, or did you forget that? And Arabic may or may not be their native language, but they’re certainly entitled to enroll in any school the state sponsors no matter what the language of teaching.

            As for Palestinians resident in the West Bank, it should be their school as much as any settler’s.

            Israeli State funded universities are a “for profit” venture? What are you smokin’?

          • Deïr Yassin December 26, 2012, 3:30 AM

            @ OhadF
            “no such institute is to be found…but I’m sure that’s Israel’s fault too (…..) not a single cent of the contribution money blahblahblahblah….”
            You don’t know what you’re talking about !
            I encourage you to read Sari Nusseibeh’s autobiography: “Once Upon A Country: A Palestinian Life”, and you’ll get an insider’s view on how Israel has done everything possible to prevent a “thriving, successful academic network” to develop. Nusseibeh taught at Bir Zeit, and is the president of al-Quds University. Read carefully the pages about the Wall…..
            Not to mention the university professors from aborad who have to renew their residence papers constantly, and the Palestinian professors sitting in Israeli jails…
            A European report: Israel targeting Palestinian academics:
            link to euromid.org
            Or what about the IOF setting up extra checkpoints – by pure coincidence, of course…. – during Tawjihi-exams or closing down the universities for months, even years.
            Yeah, The-Only-Democracy has absolutely no responsability, there isn’t even an occupation going on, is there ?

        • Deïr Yassin December 26, 2012, 3:02 AM

          My impression is that no Palestinians from the West Bank are allowed to study at Ariel College, simply because it’s in a settlement, and Palestinians are not allowed to enter settlements. That’s at least how the Meretz-member in the above article debunk the hasbara.
          I read an article maybe last year where the journalist spoke with Israeli Palestinian students studying in Ariel. One of them said that she studied there for economic reasons, and that her family wasn’t too happy (or maybe her friends, I can’t remember) about it.
          PS. The comments to Dahlia’s article are interesting too. Sinjim is a Palestinian living in the States, and Philos is a Hadash-voting Mizrahi Israeli who proudly claims his Iraqi origin, and who has left Israel by now. I’ve learnt quite a lot through his comments.

          • Bob Mann December 26, 2012, 5:34 AM

            You wrote: “Palestinians are not allowed to enter settlements” but you must know that isn’t true.

          • Richard Silverstein December 26, 2012, 1:48 PM

            Only Palestinians who work at settlements are allowed entrance. No Palestinian would be permitted to enter a settlement without a work permit.

          • Deïr Yassin December 26, 2012, 4:26 PM

            Yes, according to Machsom Watch among the Permanent Prohibitions:
            no. 7: Entry of Palestinians into the areas of the settlements (even for those whose lands are within the built up area of the settlement)
            link to machsomwatch.org
            I wonder if some of your settler-readers here have the guts to tell us how much they pay a Palestinian labourer for a day’s work, compared to if he were an Israeli Jew.
            I saw a programme recently: French Jews living in a settlement, Palestinian construction workers were guarded by an armed settler during their work hours, he didn’t have a whip though…..

          • Deïr Yassin December 26, 2012, 10:16 AM

            That sentence of mine that you ‘quote’ has a continuation: “That’s at least how the Meretz-member in the above article debunk the hasbara”. Why don’t you read that article, and eventually discuss the case with Zahava Galon.

  • Joel December 25, 2012, 9:57 AM

    And something like 500 Ariel University students are Israeli Arabs…I mean, Palestinians.

    • Richard Silverstein December 25, 2012, 9:50 PM

      Yes, & they’re studying medicine, engineering, neuro science & law. Right? Out of the goodness of the heart of the IDF & its Occupation, right?

      • Ohad F December 25, 2012, 11:01 PM

        They are studying whatever courses the “university” has to offer to its student crowd (I don’t think Ariel offers medicine, for example) and they study there because they (or a grant, to those who qualify) pay full tuition fees. No goodness of anyone’s heart is at play. Universities are a “for-profit” business after all.

  • mary December 26, 2012, 1:21 AM

    It’s one thing to build houses on occupied land – and illegal – but establishing a university which either limits or disqualifies the people under occupation from attending sends a clear message, that Israel isn’t going to ever get the hell out of the West Bank and that it fully expects the Palestinians, and the world, to just suck it up.

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