LONDON – Israeli-British Professor Haim Bereshit, one of the initiators of the British academic boycott against Israel more than two years ago, had slammed Defense Minister Ehud Barak's decision to recognize the Ariel College as a university.
"There are thousands of professors living in Israel, many of them known worldwide. If they eat this vermin, we will continue to act against the Israeli academia as an agent of the occupation," he told Ynet on Friday.
"We are deluding ourselves that Israel is a normal country, because in a normal country the defense minister does not deal with university permits, and particularly not in an illegal university in occupied territories," Bereshit argued.
On Wednesday, five years after the Israeli government decided to declare the Ariel College a recognized university, the defense minister agreed to implement the decision that was part of the political clashes within the coalition.
In the first stage, the college will be officially recognized as a "university center", as it defines itself today, and another discussion will be held in several years ahead of making it Israel's eighth university.
Bereshit used particularly blatant words to describe the move: "We are unfazed by the fact that an Israeli general, a war criminal, declares a university. Perhaps in order to expand the education institutions, he will think it right to occupy additional territories and declare universities in those places as well.
"The most serious thing, which should not be seen as insignificant, is the fact that there is an educational institution in occupied territories," Bereshit claimed. "We in the British professors' organization have not waited and have worked even before this happened to include the Ariel College in the 'gray list', which does not allow academic institutions to have any ties with this institution. This is in fact a boycott process, although it is not defined as such due to the complexity of this matter."
According to the professor, academic institutions in South Africa were included in the same list during the apartheid era.
"I have never heard of any academic institution or academic organization in Israel adopting a resolution against the killing of innocent civilians in Gaza or any mass student protests on this matter, and this leads me to believe that no one cares," Bereshit accused. He added that the Israeli population was one of the best in the world in terms of academic training.