BDS Fail: Spain Loses Court Battle to Exclude Israeli University

boycott israel
AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere

TEL AVIV – In a major fail for the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, Spain’s Supreme Court issued an historic ruling against the country’s Housing Ministry for illegally excluding an Israeli university from a scientific competition.

The Council of State’s decision last week ruled that 100,000 euros must be paid to Israel’s Ariel University as compensation for not allowing it to take part in the sustainable energy design competition in 2009. The legal victory marks a significant defeat for Spain’s BDS movement, which seeks to delegitimize the Jewish state.

Ariel University’s chancellor, Yigal Cohen-Orgad, said the decision was “a partial but necessary response to the pressure being mounted by the BDS movement around the globe, and proves that efforts to isolate and demonize Israel can and will be thwarted.”

The competition, called Solar Decathlon Europe, was open to universities from around the world. In 2008, Ariel University was selected as one of 21 finalists. It was the only Middle Eastern finalist in the competition.

However, the following year the Spanish government notified the university that it had been blocked from participating in the competition because of its location in “the occupied territories.” The government ruled that “since we are bound to respect the position of the European Union in relation to this matter, we are compelled to announce that it will not be possible for your center to continue in this competition.”

Angel Mas, president of ACOM, a pro-Israel organization in Spain, said, “It’s not a simple fight, but we are successfully combating both anti-Semitism and BDS in Spain.”

“Every day, in every attempt by BDS [and others] to delegitimize and demonize the only democracy in the Middle East, we make sure they all receive a vigorous response,” he said.

“Social networks have become the new battlefields, and the rejection of BDS by mainstream political parties, which ultimately represent the vast majority of people in Spain, is an essential objective of ours,” he continued. “Ultimately, court rulings such as this evidence BDS’s anti-Semitic objectives and will send BDS discriminatory tactics back to the fringes of our democratic society in Spain and the dustbin of history, where they belong.”

“The important legal victory shows that Europe’s treatment of Israeli entities and people in Judea and Samaria is legally baseless and amounts to arbitrary discrimination,” Eugene Kontorovich , a professor at Northwestern University School of Law in the US and a leading expert on BDS, told the Jerusalem Post.

“Coming just as the EU attempts to enforce much more serious discriminatory labeling requirements, Ariel University’s legal victory highlights the inexplicable reluctance of the State of Israel to actively assert its legal rights in the World Trade Organization and other fora,” Kontorovich continued. “The fact that private lawyers had to press this case exposes both the vulnerability of the EU’s legal position and the fecklessness of the Israel government in resisting Brussels.”


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