Clarification on SPME Ariel University Center Statement in Response to Feedback…And For Something Completely Different – The Taboo That Just Won’t Shut Up, Chapter 43

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Clarifying SPME’s Position On the Ariel Effort In Response to Feedback

Dear SPME:

I have supported SPME actions for several years. However, your objections to the expulsion of Ariel College from Spain raises this question: Should there not be a distinction: Is Ariel an Israeli university just like Bar Ilan or Hebrew U? despite its not being in Israel but in the West Bank? There is no distinction at all?


Avi Eisbruch
University of Michigan

Dear SPME:

I was deeply moved by reading your letter. This is a big success to our efforts to reverse or cancel the corrupt political anti-democratic recognition of the Ariel Institute. All Israeli universities and most faculty opposed this erection of an Israeli institute abroad – on lands confiscated or stolen from their Arab-Palestinian (not necessarily private) proprietors. This act was another blow to the prospects of peace or at least some rest in the fighting in Israel and the occupied territories.

Ko Lechai to the Spanish organizers. This is my humble contribution to the honest debate in these days of McCarthyism in Israel.

Prof. Ron Hoz
Ben Gurion University, Israel

Dear SPME:

I support the premise that boycotting Israeli academic institutions is unfair and unethical. However, I am not signing this petition. Ariel University Center of Samaria clearly is a part of the Greater Israel policy. Just the fact it calls itself the AUC of Samaria speaks to its philosophy. In their marketing video Natan Sharansky speaks of the college being “…in the heart of Jewish land.” The Ariel marketing says, “Ariel is located in the heart of Israel…” Ariel is not only not on the Green Line but far inside of the West Bank. Students at AUCS are required to take one course every semester on Judaism, Jewish heritage or the Land of Israel. Demographics of the student body are described in terms of North and South Israel; no reference to students coming from the West Bank or even Judea and Samaria. I believe that if SPME is to be effective, it needs to choose issues that can be rationally argued. AUCS has chosen to restrict and therefore isolate itself by its policies and philosophy. They should recognize that there will be repercussions for them that are not justified for other colleges and universities located in the State of Israel. I would hope that AUCS could participate in Spain, but I do not think they or SPME have a sufficiently reasonable argument to pursue the issue.

Stephen Schaefer
University of Manitoba

Dear SPME,

I posed a question to you kindly. One that interests me very much concerning your strategy and possible pressure on the US withdrawing their sponsorship of the whole event. In response to my query I supposed you sent me something (A “special issue”), though I don’t know why, that has absolutely nothing to do with what I inquired about.

As a supporter and co-signer myself, is it too much to get a reasonable answer or is it something that you don’t want to make plain at this stage. I would appreciate an honest response instead of a material without any particular message or a kind word.

I’m still very curious about the issue I inquired about.


Gábor Fränkl
Queen Mary University, London,
Post Grad. (Studies Delayed)

Dear SPME,

I generally support your endeavors regarding peace in the Middle East. I am at least ambivalent, if not outright opposed to the campaign of preventing the expulsion of the Ariel University Center from Solar Decathlon 2010. I just think that the Ariel University should never have been established in the first place. Ariel is an outlier, deeply entrenched in the West Bank, settled with ultraconservative settlers, who have no intentions to retreating or becoming a part of a quid-pro-quo settlement with the Palestinians.

No amount of window dressing of having a few Arabs in their student body will alter the fact that this “University” is a foreign body in the Palestinian surroundings. I doubt that the majority of the Israeli academic community in particular, and the Israeli population in general, consider this university, as well as the Ariel Settlement altogether, as a part of the Israeli academic establishment or as part of the Israeli Yishuv.

Perhaps boycotts and expulsions are not the right way of opposing Ariel-type settlements and their settlers’ intransigents, but I personally do not sympathize with them. I wish this settlement and their “University” would never have been established, and their inhabitants should not vie for any international recognition, including participation in the Solar Decathlon 2010.

Dan Golomb, PhD
University of Massachusetts Lowell

To SPME board,

Dear Sirs/Madams

I am writing in response to a recent call to Support the SPME Statement on the Expulsion of the Ariel University Center from Solar Decathlon 2010. As a long time member of the SPME and a strong supporter of academic freedom and separation from politics, on face value it may have seemed that I would be an obvious supporter. However this case is not a usual one and “Ariel University Center” is not a regular University. As you should know the Ariel academy, after failing to get academic accreditation as a University on the basis of merit, the Ariel Academy approached the political system to establish a separate academic system for Israeli institutions in the west bank. This new entity granted the Ariel Academy a university status by the authority of the military governor of the west bank and the Israeli minister of defense, in a strong deviation from academic freedom.

In light of these events an organization such as yours, fighting against political intervention in academia, should sound a strong voice against such clear intervention of military that brings to mind the darkest of times in human history. I think that you as an organization should go public with clarification and condemnation of the above process ….


Rafael Levi,
UC, Irvine

Dear Sirs,

K U D O S for your brave stand!

Dr. Asher Eder,

SPME Response To These SPME Network Participants on the Ariel Effort

Thank you for contacting SPME with your views concerning our statement on the exclusion of Ariel University Center from the Spanish Solar Decathlon of 2010. Please note that our statement is not based on the complex issues surrounding the location of the university or the status of the university. We have taken no official position on these questions.

Our statement addresses only our stand that no university should be banned from international academic competition for purely political reasons.

Please understand that SPME did not define the issues in this dispute, but is reacting as an international community of scholars who believe that the maintenance of academic principles when dealing with the Middle East leads to better understanding of issues and increases the chance for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

Peter J. Haas
President, SPME
Abba Hillel Silver Professor of Jewish Studies
Chair, Department of Religious Studies
Case Western Reserve University

Ruth Lichtenberg- Contreras
Secretary-SPME Board of Directors
Vienna Natural History Museum
University of Vienna

….And Now For Something Completely Different From Jeffrey Goldberg

Andrew Sullivan, in, praises a writer for the American Conservative, Daniel Larison, for his bravery in addressing what he sees as a strong connection between terrorism and America’s support for Israel. Larison, Andrew writes, “as often, treads where angels fear to.”

How true! How brave it is to stand athwart the Jews and yell “Stop!” We are a dangerous group of people. Just look at what has happened to other critics who have gone where angels fear to tread and criticized Israel. Take, for example, Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, the authors of “The Israel Lobby.” Walt, as many of you know, is in hiding in Holland, under round-the-clock protection of the Dutch police, after the chief rabbi of Wellesley, Mass., issued a fatwa calling for his assassination. Mearsheimer, of course, lost his job at the University of Chicago and was physically assaulted by a group of Hadassah ladies in what became known as the “Grapefruit Spoon Attack of 2009.” Now he teaches political science at a community college in Hayden Lake, Idaho, under police guard. And Michael Scheuer, the former CIA man who argues that American Jews are traitors to their country, was recently burned in effigy during a riot led by a cell of Reconstructionist rabbis. All across this country, assaults by Jews on their critics are on the rise. It’s gotten so bad you can’t even publish a mildly anti-Semitic cartoon without having your office sacked by gangs of extremists from the North American Federation of Temple Youth. It’s tough out there for brave truth-tellers these days.

Clarification on SPME Ariel University Center Statement in Response to Feedback…And For Something Completely Different – The Taboo That Just Won’t Shut Up, Chapter 43

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