Scholars for Peace in the Middle East Acts on Expulsion of Ariel University Center from European Solar Decathlon Competition 2010

Published October 14th, 2009 - 12:51 GMT

The Board of Directors Scholars for
Peace in the Middle East (SPME), representing 28,000 academics from 3500 colleges
and universities worldwide has conveyed a letter to the Spanish government and other
officials asking them to reconsider the recent decision to expel the team of Ariel
University Center from the Solar Decathlon Europe 2010.

In reaction to the pressure of several pro-Palestinian groups (Architects for
Justice in Palestine- APJP, PACBI, BDS Movement - Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions
for Palestine) the Spanish Ministry of Housing recently decided to expel the team of
the Ariel University Center from participation in the competition. The decision was
made apparently on exclusively political grounds.

The SPME letter expressed dismay that the decision was not based on academic or
technological reasons consistent with the competition, but on purely and admittedly
political grounds. The letter was sent also to all the other universities that are
participating in the competition.

SPME expresses in its letter the "fear that the actions of the Spanish government
could serve as a precedent for governments to reach into academic competitions and
make political determinations as to who may compete and who may not. The protection
of science and scholarship from government interference is a long-held value in the
West."

SPME considers the decision to eliminate an academic institution of higher learning
that includes both Jews and Arabs in its student body and training these students to
work and live together regrettable and counterproductive to reasonable aspirations
for peaceful co-existence.

The letter was sent not only to the president of Spain and the Minister of Housing,
but also to the organizers of the Solar Decathlon and all the remaining
participating institutions.


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