West Bank Academics Skip London Meet Rather Than Hide Identity

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Ariel University.Credit: Moti Milrod

Lecturers from Ariel University refused to attend a London conference after organizers asked them to hide their affiliation with the West Bank institution, according to Israeli media reports.

The university issued an official statement on Thursday, after the Times Higher Education Magazine reported on the incident earlier last week.

The event, which took place in September, "is an extreme manifestation of hypocrisy and absurdity," the statement read. "While the conference organizers are interested in research and researchers of Ariel University, they are trying to ignore the existence of the institution where these studies have emerged.

“Fortunately, this is a rare phenomenon in the landscape of international conferences, where Ariel University researchers are received with much esteem. Ariel University will continue to strive to lead in the field of research and academia. Also deserving mention is the protest of the participants of the conference from Israel and abroad against the absurd behavior of the organizers.”

Yigal Cohen Orgad, chancellor of the school, took conference organizers to task for the incident in an interview with Israel National News.

"This is a ridiculous event, in which a small minority is trying to boycott us by saying to researchers: you are acceptable to us, just don't say you're from Ariel University," said Orgad. "Everyone knows they haven't appeared from a vacuum and are working in Ariel."

Last year, the European Union issued guidelines barring cooperation with Israeli entities that have times to West Bank settlements, East Jerusalem or the Golan Heights.

Israel acceded to the new EU guidelines, which placed a ban on funding institutions in the settlements over the Green Line, announcing it would compensate settlers financially harmed by the EU funding ban.

The compromise allowed the two sides to sign in June the Horizon 2020 scientific cooperation agreement, giving Israel access to EU research.

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