The settler university at Ariel on the West Bank is about to hold what is billed as an international conference on the current situation of the Jewish People. In order to get foreign scholars to take part in this event, the Ariel University resorted to false pretenses, claiming to be located in Israel – while the university administration is well aware that they are in fact located in Occupied Territory which is not, and never was, part of Israel.
See link to the conference program on the Ariel Univeristy’s website
Over the past week, Gush Shalom sent letters to all foreign academics whose name appeared on the conference program – most of them from Poland and Ukraine, a few from Western Europe – reading:
To Dr. /Prof. ………, University of ………., Greetings! We are writing you from Tel Aviv, on behalf of Gush Shalom (the Israeli Peace Bloc). We are writing with regard to the conference due to be held at the University of Ariel between November 27-30, on the subject “Modern Jewish Existence in a World of Threats and Hostility”, of which your name appears among the featured speakers.
The University of Ariel, like any other institute founded with the stated purpose of promoting academic learning and scientific knowledge, is obliged to keep and maintain standards of factual accuracy in its publications. Yet the conference program, in which your name and intended lecture appears, includes a glaring factual mistake – i.e., the location of the conference is given as “Ariel, Israel”.
That designation is obviously and manifestly wrong. The University of Ariel is not located in the territory of the State of Israel. Rather, it is located at a settlement enclave erected in the territory which Israel has conquered in 1967, which Israel holds under military rule over the past fifty years, and which Israel had never annexed. Not a single country in the world recognizes the territory in which Ariel is located as being part of Israel. More than that: the State of Israel itself does not recognize Ariel and the territory around it as being part of Israel.
Israeli law sets out a very specific juridical procedure which needs to be undertaken in order to apply Israeli law and sovereignty. To achieve that, the government of Israel must submit an Annexation Bill to the Knesset (Parliament), and it must be approved in three readings; then and only then does the territory in question become part of Israel under Israel’s own law. It is an undisputed fact that none of the governments which ruled Israel since 1967 has seen fit to apply this procedure to the territory where Ariel is located, variously named “The West Bank” or “Judea and Samaria”. That territory was and remains an Occupied Territory under International Law. To the contrary, all Israeli governments since 1967 – including the present one, under Mr. Netanyahu – have repeatedly reiterated that under some circumstances they might relinquish Israeli rule over that territory. The designation “Ariel, Israel” is a factual error – of which the university administration must be well aware.
It is important for you to know that by participating in this conference you would not only be taking part in academic activity, imparting from your knowledge and expertise to a discussion on the situation and future of the Jewish People. By participating in this conference you would also be taking a political position. Whether or not you are aware of it, by taking part in a conference at the Ariel University, under the false heading “Ariel, Israel”, you would be taking sides in a hot political controversy. Indeed, you would be taking sides on the issue most deeply debated between Israel and the International Community, between Israel and the Palestinians. It is also the issue most hotly debated between the political factions and parties inside the Israeli society itself. As a person devoted to academic probity and precision, you should not act without having full information. “
Meanwhile, one of the intended participants - Dr Edyta Gawron, Assistant Professor at Institute of Jewish Studies of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland - informed Gush Shalom that she had cancelled her participation and asked the Ariel University to remove her name from the conference program.
“It was very important for us to take this action” says Adam Keller, Gush Shalom Spokesperson. “We have the highest regard for scholars promoting Jewish subjects in countries like Poland and Ukraine. Not only are they serious researchers and academics, with deserved international reputations. They are also persons of courage and probity, ready to unflinchingly uncover dark pages in the history of their own countries. Indeed, one of the intended participants in the Ariel conference gave the lecture he is to give the title ‘Against Silence!’ - probably unaware of the loaded connotations which the words ‘Breaking the Silence’ recently acquired in the Israeli political discourse. It is painful to see the good will and devoted work of such people cynically abused to promote the settler enterprise.“