New York, NY, October 21, 2009 … The Spanish government “is running out of excuses” for its sudden exclusion of Israeli researchers from an international solar competition in Madrid, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said after hearing from Spain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the issue.
The League wrote to the Spanish government seeking an explanation for the exclusion of an Israeli university, Ariel University Center of Samaria, from the Solar Decathlon Europe, a competition with teams from around the world contending to build a solar-powered house. Ariel University had qualified for the final around, which will be held in Madrid in 2010.
Spain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs replied to ADL that the decision was made based on the “position of the international community” on Israeli settlements and the fact that “the European Union has repeatedly declared that settlements are illegal under international law and constitute an obstacle to peace.”
“The Spanish Government is running out of excuses for its sudden exclusion of Ariel University from the Solar Decathlon Europe,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “Israel is recognized around the world as a leader in solar power technology. The government is using the issue of settlements to justify a hypocritical decision. Spain should admit its mistake and invite the Israeli team back to the competition.”
When it first announced the disqualification of the Israeli team, Spain’s Ministry of Housing said the decision was in accordance with European Union policy. Except there is no policy of non-cooperation with Israeli institutions in the West Bank, some of which have received funding from the ‘EU Framework Programme for R&D.’
“Spain’s politicization of this competition harms scientific cooperation on an important environmental project,” said Mr. Foxman. “Solar-powered homes could benefit untold numbers of people around the world, just as other Israeli innovations have in medicine, agriculture, and communications technologies.”
The League noted that the Spanish government and the EU do cooperate with universities elsewhere in the world in areas they deem occupied, even when those universities were established after the foreign occupation. Universities in occupied areas that have received EU support include:
Artsakh State University, established in 1992 in Nagorno-Karabakh, which received support from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology for an archeology project; and
Eastern Mediterranean University, established in 1979 in Northern Cyprus, which received a EUR 20,000 grant from the European Commission in September 2009.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world’s leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.