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Leftists protest outside college campus (Archive)
Courtesy of Courage to Refuse
Photo: Doron Sheffer
Judea and Samaria College
Photo: Doron Sheffer
Professors: Ariel University - illegal outpost
University professors from across Israel protest decision to convert college in West Bank settlement of Ariel into university, say plan politically-motivated, committee that approved it affiliated with the Right
Senior staff members from universities across Israel on Sunday submitted a letter to the Southern Command chief, alerting him they intend to appeal to the High Court of Justice next week against a recent decision to turn the West Bank College of Judea and Samaria in Ariel into a university, claiming the decision is illegal.

 

In their letter, the professors demand that the committee formed last October by the High Education Council to examine the possibility of transforming the college into a university be annulled, due to what they describe as the committee's "political bias."

 

The letter was signed by prominent scholars from Tel Aviv University, Ben Gurion University in Beer Sheva, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Haifa University and Weizmann Institute in Rehovot.

 

On May of last year, the government decided to convert the College of Judea and Samaria into a university, and at the same time establish another university in the Galilee. The decision stirred a wave of opposition on the side of left-wing organizations, which held demonstrations on campus to protest what they believed to be a politically motivated move by the government.

 

'Livnat promoted her agenda'

 

One of the scholars who signed the letter to the IDF chief, Prof. Yaron Ezrahi, blasted the decision, saying it was "an attempt to establish a university like an illegal outpost, while disguising it as a legal educational institute."

 

Ezrahi claimed the decision was the legacy of former Education Minister Limor Livnat, who "used her powers to promote the politicization of the high education system in Israel."

 

"There is a political interest here to strengthen the settlements by turning a college into a university, which in itself was born in sin," Ezrahi stated.

 

In their letter the scholars also claim the Education Ministry's committee that approved the establishment of a university in Ariel was made up of "members of the Right's academic elite."

 

"While there is no dispute over the members' academic qualifications, the committee's most prominent members are directly or indirectly affiliated with rightist, and even extreme Right organizations," the letter stated.

 

"Prof. Israel Aumann, an expert on game theory, was on the committee. I wonder what he would have to say on Livnat's political games," Ezrahi added.

 

Another scholar who signed the letter, Dr. Niv Gordon, added there was no real academic demand for a university in Ariel.

 

Livnat: Not my own private whim

 

Meanwhile, Ariel College officials charged the professors' letter was in itself politically motivated.

 

"These people act on political agendas. They don't mind if a university is formed, they object to it being established in the West Bank," Chairman of the Ariel college Executive Committee Yigal Cohen-Orgad said.

 

"As to the committee's members, three are Israel Prize laureates, and one a Nobel Prize laureate, while the petitioners are all politically affiliated with the Left," he added.

 

Former Minister Livnat said in response to the allegations the decision to turn the college into a university was "a government decision, not my own private whim."

 

"If the reason they are filing this petition is that the university is located on Palestinian territory, then they are politicians, not academics. If this is the case, this should be a political argument about Judea and Samaria."

 

The High Education Council said a final decision on the matter is still pending. "The committee has yet to present its conclusions to the Council. When it does, the Council will discuss it," it said in a statement.

 

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