Israel’s Council for Higher Education has slammed calls for a boycott of West Bank settlement-based Ariel University, reported Israel Hayom, following recent efforts to dissuade academics from attending a physics conference at the institution.
Last week, a letter was published in the Guardian – reportedly the initiative of Israeli Professor Ofer Aharony, according to Israel Hayom – signed by a number of scholars from universities in the United States, UK, Finland, Belgium, and the occupied Palestinian territories.
The letter denounced the conference on cosmology and particle physics taking place in Ariel University this week, and urged colleagues to boycott the institution.
Ariel University is located in Ariel settlement, deep in the occupied West Bank. All settlements are illegal under international law, and human rights groups describe them as being at the heart of an inherently discriminatory regime.
The Council for Higher Education, however, “voiced its support for Ariel University”, reported Israel Hayom, stating that it “strongly disapproves of calls supporting the boycott made by lone members of the academic faculty in institutions of higher learning in Israel”.
“In addition, and in accordance with the decision of the Council for Higher Education, academic institutions will act in the coming year to adopt a code of ethics that includes a reference to the fact that an academic boycott constitutes an improper, anti-democratic step that deeply contradicts the essence of academia,” the statement continued.
A spokesperson for Ariel University, meanwhile, said the institution was “continuing its international research activity and would not allow calls for its boycott, despite their being a criminal offense under the boycott law, to harm this successful activity.”