Demonstration against the decision of the Government of Israel to convert the Ariel College into a university details in English below

May 4 2005

צילומים יעקב כתריאל  Photographs by Jacob Katriel  © 4.5.2005

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 9 May 2005

Proteste gegen Umwandlung von College im Westjordanland

Unterdessen verschärfen sich die Proteste gegen die Entscheidung des Kabinetts, das „College” in Ariel im Westjordanland in eine Universität umzuwandeln. Das hatte die Regierung am vorletzten Sonntag mit 13 gegen sieben Stimmen aus der Arbeiterpartei beschlossen. Damit soll die Siedlung gestärkt werden. Am Wochenende kam es zu Demonstrationen in Ariel.

In Zeitungen wurde kritisiert, Ariel lasse offiziell seine Studenten auch in illegalen Kleinsiedlungen wohnen. Der Präsident der Universität von Haifa, Ben Zeev, wandte ein, schon jetzt brächen die Universitäten finanziell zusammen. Neugründungen ohne Geld seien fatal. Der von der Regierung eingesetzte „Rat für Höhere Bildung” fühlt sich übergangen und will die Kabinettsentscheidung prüfen.












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 saying:
"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 are accomplices".

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 days ago.

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 supplied.



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