Israeli university compensated for being barred from Spanish competition

Samaria-based Ariel University. Credit: Michael Jacobson/Wikimedia Commons.

( The Spanish government paid NIS 430,000 (about $109,000) in compensation to Samaria-based Ariel University for barring students from an international academic competition in 2009. Spanish authorities had been pressured by Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement activists to disqualify the Israelis because they studied in territory located beyond Israel’s 1967 lines.

A team of 15 architecture students from Ariel University had been among 21 finalist teams in a competition for designing an environmentally friendly home. The contest was sponsored by the Spanish Housing Ministry. Ariel University launched what would become a five-year legal battle, demanding the Spanish Housing Authority either compensate the Israeli school or overturn its decision to ban the students from the competition.

The Spanish Housing Authority asked Spain’s Foreign Ministry for proof that the housing authority could indeed disqualify Ariel University from participating, but in 2014, the Spanish government officially stated that disqualifying the students over their university's location “has no legal basis and is unjustified.” Ariel University eventually accepted the housing authority’s offer for compensation.

“We went to court so as not to set a precedent,” Ariel University Chancellor Yigal 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.”

Posted on January 6, 2016 .