Yigal Cohen-Orgad, Chancellor of the Ariel University Center of Samaria, said on Sunday that Israeli universities should not accept students who are not loyal to the State of Israel’s Declaration of Independence.
Cohen-Orgad, a former Likud MK who served as Israel’s Finance Minister between 1983 and 1984, spoke to Arutz Sheva amid reports that young Arabs have been attempting to infiltrate Israeli colleges and universities for the purpose of harming and changing their Zionist Jewish character.
“Whoever’s actions or behavior are not consistent with the Declaration of Independence should not be allowed to study or work at an educational center, whether he is a Jew or an Arab,” Cohen-Orgad said, noting that “kosher Jews” [Hebrew expression for real Jews, ed.] had in the past worked in different universities and colleges in Israel against the State's Jewish character, joining anti-Israel organizations, waving PLO flags and vandalizing Israeli flags.
The Ariel University Center has both Arab and Jewish students, he emphasized, and the university finds it important to remind all of its students that it is a Zionist academic institution for all intents and purposes.
“Each classroom or laboratory has an Israeli flag and we convey a clear message in this regard,” noted Cohen-Orgad, adding that every student, Jew or Arab, is required to take a course in Judaism, Zionism or Israel each semester.
He said that the Center has not encountered any tension between Jews and Arabs in its 20 years of operation. “We experienced both of the Intifadas and thankfully we did not encounter any tension between the various populations study with us, including Arab students and ‘settlers’.”
Cohen-Orgad concluded by referring to a recent article in the Haaretz newspaper which profiled leftist lecturers who choose to teach at the Ariel University Center of Samaria. Leftist, however, he said, does not have to mean anti-Zionist, and can mean a poitically left interpretaion of Zionism.
“The article in Haaretz reflects the fact that the Center has students and professors from across the country who have a variety of opinions and who share the common denominator of perceiving Israel as a Jewish, Zionist and democratic state,” he said, adding, “I'm happy that people from all corners of Israeli society, among them people whose political views are different from mine, integrate into our Center.”
The Judea and Samaria Council for Higher Education (CHE-JS) recently decided to recognize the Ariel University Center as a full-fledged university, after a long battle for university status. The decision was seen as a major victory for nationalists, while leftists expressed horror at the idea of a university existing in Samaria.
The Council of Presidents of Israeli Universities has tried to prevent Ariel from becoming a full-fledged university by sending a letter to the head of IDF Central Command, Nitzan Alon, asking him not to approve the center’s recognition as a university. The reasons are financial, reflecting a lack of willingness to share the education budget. This is in line with Hebrew University's opposition to the recognition of Tel Aviv University years ago.
Final approval of the CHE-JS decision needs to come from the IDF, which has legal authority over Judea and Samaria.
In the letter, the Council members wrote Alon, “This decision of the CHE-JS was fundamentally flawed - it was made without authority, without a prior and through examination procedure of the scientific needs of Israel and the criteria required for the requested recognition.”
MK Danny Danon (Likud) has called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to intervene and complete the process of recognizing the Ariel University Center in the Shomron as a full-fledged university.
Danon’s call came following reports that Defense Minister Ehud Barak has been delaying the announcement of Ariel’s recognition as a university.