Professor enlists Hamas-linked ex-convict for boycott of college in Samaria

An Israeli professor partnered with a Hamas-linked colleague and several others to urge a boycott of an Ariel University physics conference located in Samaria.

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

In the first gathering of its kind in Israel, Ariel University in Samaria hosted a conference September 3-6 on cosmology and particle physics.

The university was forced to defend itself from a politically motivated attempt by an Israeli professor, Ofer Aharony, to derail the conference. At least one partner to whom Aharony turned for help was none other than a convicted, Hamas-linked colleague.

Aharony, a theoretical physicist in Rehovot’s world-renowned Weizmann Institute, sent a letter to over a dozen speakers before the event asking them to withdraw since the university is located in what he deems “occupied territory.”

He also sent the letter to the British paper The Guardian, which published it along with the names of the 14 other signatories. Listed right under Aharony’s name on the letter was Prof. Imad Barghouti of the Al-Quds University, who has been identified as working with the Hamas terrorist organization.

Barghouti is not just an armchair activist. He spent time in Israeli prison for inciting violence just two years ago, in 2016. And two years prior to that, he appeared in various YouTube videos calling on Palestinians to “take up arms,” and “liberat[e] Al-Aqsa and the holy places.”

In one particular video, as translated by Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), he demanded “M.A. theses and studies to develop the Al-Attar precision-guided missiles” to help the “resistance” because “Palestine has not yet been liberated.”

Barghouti envisioned programming the missiles with electronic chips with “the fingerprints of the Zionist soldiers, their voice prints, their retinal patterns, and their service numbers” to be fired from the Gaza Strip “to hunt them down in their bedrooms.”

Aharony defended his actions in Israel Hayom by saying it was his “duty” to point out to his colleagues from abroad exactly where the university is located, since he claimed the conference was being “misrepresented as being in Israel proper.”

However, the letter was worded in much more extreme language.

For example, those who signed it “believe that participating in any activities held in a settlement amounts to accepting the Israeli government’s policy of gradually annexing the occupied territories to Israel.”

The signatories also called on their “colleagues and the wider scientific community” not to “take part in any attempts to use science to normalize the occupation of the Palestinian territories [sic].”

Aharony was the only Israeli to sign the letter. By doing so, he potentially contravened the code of ethics that Israel’s Council for Higher Education (CHE) accepted this year that, among other restrictions such as politicizing their classrooms, bans professors from promoting academic boycotts of Israeli universities.

Although the code will only to be implemented in 2019, Matan Peleg, CEO of the pro-Zionist Im Tirtzu organization said in reaction to Aharony’s letter, “It is inconceivable that a blind eye can be turned toward such a thing.”

The CHE did take notice of Aharony’s actions, protesting them and putting out a statement saying that it “strongly disapproves of calls supporting the boycott made by lone members of the academic faculty in institutions of higher learning in Israel.”

The Weizmann Institute, however, took a different position, commenting in a statement, “Professor Aharony clearly noted that he is addressing the conference participants as a private citizen. As such, he is entitled to express his opinions and his worldviews.”