Banning Ariel U students is discrimination

The decision by the White House to exclude students of Ariel University from attending the Jerusalem Convention Hall meeting between President Obama and Israeli university students bespeaks of segregation and selective discrimination. Ariel University’s doors are open to Jews and Arabs, its teachers do not incite or propagate disinformation or misinformation, and from everything I have heard, the University is committed to all the norms of truth and open inquiry in their academic classrooms.

The ban excludes individuals on the basis of who they are, not what they do, a recognized violation of human rights and early warning sign of possibly worse to come. Whatever term one uses to describe the land on which Ariel University sits (West Bank? Disputed Territories? Judea and Samaria? Occupied Palestinian Territories? Palestine or Palestinian Authority?), it makes the White House complicit in this violation of human rights. My position is driven by the same concern for human rights which has led me to call upon Israel to develop an ethically coherent policy towards protecting the human rights of Sudanese and Eritreans fleeing persecution in their native countries and the Sinai Peninsula.

Excluding Ariel University’s students is a dangerous first step down the slippery slope of endorsing a Palestinian State which will be Judenrein. If the White House does not revoke this ban, it will be signaling to Israelis and Palestinians that it is a complicit enabler to a Judenrein State, thereby kindling suspicions as to the seriousness of the Administration’s commitment to an agreement in keeping with core universal principles of respect, live and let live, and mutual tolerance for all.

In fact, were I a Palestinian hoping for full Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, I would be organizing petitions to revoke this wrongminded and foolish ban, given the unsettling message it telegraphs to all.

Furthermore, I am surprised that those Israelis and Americans and Europeans interested in advancing a peace process are themselves not doing everything possible to eliminate the teaching of narratives the subtexts of which incite to violence when linked to calls to emulate terrorists who have killed civilian Israels – young and old, women and men just because of who they are, not what they do.

President Obama, revoke the disgraceful and ethically flawed decision to ban students from Ariel University from participating in the meeting with Israel’s university students. The ban sends all the wrong messages. It’s Passover, zman herutanu, the time of our freedom. Ostracize the incitement, not the enlightenment.

About the Author
Dr. Elihu D Richter is a founder of the Jerusalem Center for Genocide Prevention