When our forefathers laid the cornerstone for the Hebrew University
in 1918, the number of Jews in the country was smaller than the number of settlers today. There was no real academic need for it, and the old university establishment objected to its formation, only referring to relevant arguments, of course.
The main argument was that there is already one university in the region, in Beirut, and there is no need for another one.
Nonetheless, the Hebrew University was eventually established, because the Zionist enterprise was eager to set up its own higher education institution. The university was an impressive display of normalization by a hardworking, determined national movement.
The Jews dried up swamps, built a university, and ultimately established a state.
There are no swamps in Ariel,
but there are other sources of trouble, and happily a wonderful academic institute has been in place there, for many years now. This institution was also established mostly because of a desire for normalcy, yet just like its elder sister from Jerusalem, by now it has become an objective academic necessity.
Some 13,000 students cannot be wrong. They head there from all across the country and from both peoples. I recently saw with my own eyes a Muslim female student with half her face veiled on campus. If she has no problem earning her degree in Ariel, what’s the problem then?
Why are so many Jewish professors pained by the fact that a Palestinian female from east Jerusalem will write her doctoral dissertation beyond the Green Line? Why do they care that a settler from Elon Moreh would be able to complete her master’s degree in communication a 20-minute drive from home?
And there is one more thing I saw in Ariel: An Israeli flag in every classroom. As far as I recall from my days at the Hebrew University, there are no Israeli flags in classrooms there. In other universities in Israel we see entirely different flags being waved.
Some of these universities have become in recent years labs of post-Zionist unrest. The lecturers there are now lamenting Ariel University’s negative contribution to Israel’s academic image, yet up until recently they too enlisted for the cause of the international boycott on Israel’s higher education institutions.
Just in order to prove to them that the boycott does not pay off, it is very important to establish a university in Ariel. The State of Israel needs a pro-Zionist university that will not mix chemistry or social work studies with war against the occupation.