Demonstration Against the
Decision of the
Government of Israel to Convert the
Ariel College into a University
/ by Jacob Katriel,
Haifa, May 4th 2005
The demonstration took place on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 at 08:00am, in
front of the main campus gate in Ariel. It had been summoned the evening before,
via email, by the following groups: Courage to Refuse, Young Yacahd, Gush
Shalom and Hakampus-lo-shotek (the campus does not shut up). About 70 students,
faculty members and other concerned citizens were present, holding banners
"Ariel is not Israel"
"This is not a University; This is a Settlement"
"Ariel College introduces: Occupation Science"
"Ariel is not in the consensus"
"We want to study in Israel, not in the occupied territories"
as well as "Occupation, they who don't refuse
Many people who would have taken part had opted to protest in Bil'in,
where the occupation army was busy destroying
olive groves that constitute a major economic
resource of the local Palestinian population, for the benefit of
another illegal Israeli settlement. Indeed, in Bil'in the army
applied unconstrained violence against the
peaceful demonstrators, as it had done a few
The opposition to the establishment of the Ariel University is shared by a
large segment of Israeli academe and society.
However, there is a range of motivations.
Most of Israeli academe is critical of the enormous waste of resources
that this will require in an era in which the
state is unable (or unwilling) to allocate
reasonable budgets to its existing universities. They point out the huge
deficits of most of Israel's universities, the dwindling resources
for support of graduate students, young faculty,
acquisition of critically needed equipment,
materials, books and scholarly periodicals.
Courage to Refuse have pointed out in their message the fact that people's
lives are lost in the ongoing violence that is
an immediate consequence of the existence of the
illegal settlements, such as Ariel, in the occupied
territories. They question the wisdom of investing huge resources
in a project which is doomed to be dismantled
before Israel can hope to achieve a peaceful
resolution of its much too long conflict with the Palestinian people.
However, some people (the undersigned included) stress that while the
budgetary situation of the Israeli research
universities verges on the catastrophic, while
the lack of resources for medicine, welfare and creation of employment
has tragic consequences for the long-term health of Israeli
society, and while the maintenance of the
occupation is extremely costly in terms of human life
and in terms of its material resources – the establishment of a
university in the occupied territories should be
strongly opposed simply because it constitutes a
violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention which prohibits an
occupying country from facilitating the settlement of members of
its own population in the occupied territory.
This last objection would be valid even if the
very badly needed lacking resources of the universities were generously