Anti-Israel demonstrators in Spain

An Israeli university won a discrimination case against the Spanish government, which banned them from an architecture competition because they came from Judea and Samaria. 

The anti-Israel BDS (Boycott, Sanction, Divest) movement suffered a defeat and Israel won a symbolic victory when the Spanish government recently paid NIS 430,000 in compensation to Ariel University in Samaria after its students were illegally discriminated against is a state-sponsored competition.

Israel Ynet news reported on Wednesday that the Spanish paid the compensation for an incident in which 15 architecture students from Ariel U. were barred from an international competition in 2009 sponsored by the Spanish Housing Ministry because they came “from the occupied territories.”

The Ariel University team was one of 21 finalists in a contest to design an environmentally-friendly home. The BDS movement began applying heavy pressure on the Spanish government to disqualify the Israeli team because they studied in Samaria, and they eventually did, even after the students has already arrived in Spain for the contest.

The university led a five-year legal battle, which the Spanish Housing Ministry fought, claiming its decision had received backing from Spain’s Foreign Ministry, which it denied.

In 2013, Spain’s National Court ordered the government to pay compensation.

In March 2014, the Spanish government conceded that “Ariel University was treated unequally in comparison with other contest participants, allegedly because of the European Union’s position regarding the ‘occupied territories’ and without clarifying how the ‘occupied territories’ might affect the competition. Therefore, the decision to disqualify Ariel University has no legal basis and is unjustified. It is a violation of the fundamental right to equality included in Article 14 of the constitution, as the decision to disqualify the university contradicts Ariel University’s right to equality in the competition. The faulty decision-making regarding disqualifying Ariel University from the competition makes the decision null and void.”

Ariel University recently finalized and accepted the compensation offered by the Spaniards.

Ariel U. Chancellor Yigal Cohen-Orgad said this cased proved anti-Israel activities could be defeated.

“We went to court so as not to set a precedent,” he told Ynet. The decision to compensate the university and to declare the students ban as null and void “is the required, ethical and legal response to the attempt to boycott Israel,” he said.

By: United with Israel Staff

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Source: United with Israel