Academia for Equality Protest to UNESCO: Ariel University is Not in the State of Israel

Academia for Equality, an Israeli left-wing organization with a membership of more than 700 university and college lecturers and professors, sent the following letter last week to the International Association of Universities, International Universities Bureau at UNESCO:

“We are writing to you regarding the status of the institute known as ‘Ariel University’. This institute is currently listed in the IAU under the state of Israel, as a legitimate Israeli university. We would like to ask you to remove this institute from your list of universities and places of higher education in Israel, as it is NOT in the State of Israel.  As you may know, Ariel is a settlement in the territories occupied by Israel in 1967. These territories are under military occupation with no human rights for their Palestinian inhabitants. Ariel was founded in 1980 for Israeli settlers inside the military occupation area, in violation of international law and UN resolutions (such as United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 (2016)); it has not (at least yet) been annexed to Israel. The international community regards Ariel and other settlements as illegal under international law, and as major obstacles for progress towards a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Dr. Anat Matar (Screenshot: YouTube)

“The establishment of Ariel University is an attempt to recruit the Israeli academia into the service of the occupation and settlement efforts. We therefore find it completely unreasonable that this institute in Ariel will appear in the list of institutes of higher education that are recognized by the UNESCO organization. We ask that you refrain from listing this institution in your list, as it is a tool for human rights violations and military occupation. This letter has been sent on behalf of all members of Academia for Equality, which unites over 700 members of the academic community and works for the democratization of the academic institutions in Israel and of the Israeli society as a whole.”

“Recently one of our members, Dr. Anat Matar (Tel-Aviv University), wrote to the International Association of Universities-International Universities Bureau regarding this issue. The reply that was received said that since Ariel University is listed by the Israeli Council of Higher Education, it is treated as an Israeli institute, and that only if it is removed from this Israeli list, it will be removed also from the UNESCO list. However, no one expects the Israeli government, who built this illegal institution and supplies it with financial resources, to remove it from its list. We therefore expect that the UNESCO uphold its commitment to international law and human rights, and remove this institute from its list of recognized higher education institutes.”

On next Monday, January 9, Academia for Equality will hold a discussion with Francesca Albanese, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The discussion will focus on her recent report that addresses several human rights concerns related to the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination in the context of the settler-colonial features of the prolonged Israeli occupation.