Tel Aviv University competition won't exclude students of Ariel University

After threat of legal action, Tel Aviv University backtracks on anti-Ariel University stance.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Tel Aviv University
Tel Aviv University

Tel Aviv University backtracked Monday on its decision to exclude Ariel University students from participating in a prestigious writing competition being run by the university.

The Arditi Playwriting Competition, sponsored jointly by Tel-Aviv University and the Arditi Foundation for Intercultural Dialogue, invites students from Israeli universities to submit a play on "Jewish-Arab relations" for a chance to win up to $3,500 in prizes.

In Tel Aviv University's initial announcement of the competition posted on March 25, it invited students from eight out of Israel's nine universities to participate in the competition, specifically excluding Ariel University, the only university located outside the pre-1967 borders.

After being contacted by outraged students from Ariel University, the Legal Division of the Zionist watchdog group Im Tirtzu sent a letter notifying Tel-Aviv University that they were acting in violation of Israel's discrimination law, which prohibits discriminating against people due to their "place of residence."

Im Tirtzu requested that Tel-Aviv University update the competition rules to include students from Ariel University.

In response to the letter, Tel Aviv University (TAU) stated that they "do not agree" that excluding students from Ariel University is in violation of the law, but nonetheless if they receive a submission from an Ariel University student they "would be willing to consider it."

After Im Tirtzu threatened to follow up with legal action, Tel Aviv University backtracked and updated the competition rules to include students "from all universities."

Ohad Eizenberg, a second-year Middle East Studies student in Ariel University commented: "I don't understand why a legal threat is needed for TAU to stop treating me like a second class citizen – I served in the IDF, I volunteer, I pay taxes just like everyone else."

Ronen Halil, a first-year criminology student in Ariel University from the Druze town of Daliyat el-Karmel, responded: "A university is supposed to be a place for equality and pluralism; not a place that discriminates against you based on where you choose to go to school."

Matan Peleg, CEO of Im Tirtzu, blasted the university and said that "the fact that Tel Aviv University only agreed to include Ariel University students in light of a legal threat just underscores the gravity of the situation."

"The university's handling of the situation is not only offensive, but is the height of hypocrisy for an institution that prides itself on pluralism.

"We are pleased that we were able to help the students of Ariel University who are now free to participate in the competition," added Peleg.

Tel-Aviv University responded: "The Arditi Foundation's competition for short stories and plays was established by Tel Aviv University six years ago, and in its first year was only open to Tel Aviv University students.

"In light of the success of the competition, in the following year students from the following universities requested to join the competition: Hebrew University, Ben-Gurion and Haifa. And in the following year students from Bar-Ilan University, the Technion and Weizmann Institute also requested to join.

"Now that we received a request from Ariel University, the competition is open to all universities. The university will consider adding additional academic intuitions to the competition if and when there is a request.

"The updated rules for participation in the contest appear on the university's website."