Ariel University of the Shomron won a battle in the fight against the Israel boycott after Spain agreed to pay over $100,000 in compensation over discrimination against the school because of its location over the Green Line.
The case started six years ago, when students from Ariel were eliminated from an international competition for design of “green” environmentally-friendly buildings solely because their campus was in the Shomron.
Even though the Israeli students had already entered the competition and arrived in Spain for the finals, the Spanish government, bowing to pressure from anti-Israel groups, informed them that they could no longer participate.
Concerned not only about the treatment of its students but also about its precedent setting potential, the university sued the Spanish government for compensation on grounds of discrimination and demanded that they be readmitted to the competition.
After initially resisting, the Housing Ministry gave in, after Spain’s National Court decided in 2013 to order it to consider paying the compensation. In March 2014 it finally agreed to pay 430,000 shekels in compensation. The amount was recently transferred to the university.
Yigal Cohen-Orgad, president of Ariel University, told Ynet that “the decision to compensate the university and to declare the removal (of the students) from the competition as ‘nullified and illegal’ is the required, ethical and legal response to the attempt to boycott Israel.”
He added that the about-face “proves that it is possible to succeed in thwarting these attempts.”
“We went to court so as not to set a precedent,” Cohen-Orgad said. “It was the first, and fortunately the only, time we were disqualified from a competition anywhere in the world. There were unsuccessful attempts in the past and we thought we had to put up a fight.”