Friday, July 27, 2012

Major Breakthrough: University in Ariel

This week, the university center in Ariel became an official university. This is not just a small victory for an institution that has proven itself to be professional and eminently capable - and until now has been ostracized. This is an achievement with strategic significance much broader than the political debate over the future of Judea and Samaria.

The real story behind the new university is the absolute hegemony of the Israeli Left in academia. It is an open secret that a kippah-wearing student may feel quite uncomfortable in the Tel Aviv or Be'er Sheva universities. If a woman is studying in the Tel Aviv University Nursing School, she will be told that the administration does not look kindly upon students who need a vacation to get married or for maternity leave. If a student wants to succeed in the humanities, he had best hide his patriotism. There are countless connections between various lecturers in the humanities and the New Israel Fund – and to key positions in government offices.

The stiff opposition of all the universities in Israel against the inclusion of the only independent university in Israel's academic world into its ranks was a foolish attempt to keep an unrelenting grip on the thoughts and minds of Israel's university students. The university heads repeatedly brandished the fact that the religious Bar-Ilan University also objected giving Ariel university status. But that is like when Ahmadinijad brandishes the support that he gets from the extremist Haredim who snivel up to him as an expression of their abhorrence of the State of Israel. Since Rabin's assassination, Bar Ilan is an institution that has been spiritually neutered. It will do anything to merit a bit of legitimacy from its colleagues in academia
How was Ariel given university status? Without Manhigut Yehudit and the empowerment of faith-based forces inside the Likud, it would not have happened. Education Minister Sa'ar and Finance Minister Steinitz courageously withstood the pressure and paved the way for intellectual liberty in Israeli academia. They had the political backing that allowed them to remain firm.

Does this mean that the Likud will always do the right thing in the future? No. But we have certainly witnessed an important development – one of many. In the complex reality of Likud government, there are also many positive points. 

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