Dozens of demonstrators arrived on Wednesday morning to the gates of the Judea and Samaria College in the settlement of Ariel to demonstrate against the Israeli government's decision Monday to turn the college - also known as Ariel College - into an Israeli university.
Courage to Refuse members, who organized the demonstration, were joined by members of Yachad (Meretez) party, by Israeli academics and by Israeli students - among them leaders of the Students' Protest. Daniel Safran-Hon, one of the Students' Protest's leaders, explained that the protest that swept only a couple of months ago hundreds of Israeli students to a vast struggle against the budget cuts and the decision to close faculties in Tel Aviv university, should be linked to the protest against the establishment of an Israeli university in an occupied territory.
Safran-Hon pointed out that the establishment of a university in a settlement is a political decision, and that it represents the governments' distorted priorities in which investing in maintaining the occupation comes on the expense of the education in Israel that on the expense of the weaker publics in Israeli society.
Arik Diamant of Courage to Refuse indicated that Ariel is located in the heart of the West Bank and that it will make a major obstacle to any future agreement. He also reminded the demonstrators - as well as the college students who gathered to watch the demonstration - that only a week earlier an IDF soldier was killed a few kilometers from Ariel.
Uri Zaki, of YACHAD party, called the government decision "the March of Folly". "While on one hand the Israeli government disengage from Gaza Strip, it deepens the occupation in the West Bank", he said.
The demonstrators held signs declaring: "This is a Settlement, Not a University" and "Ariel is not Israeli".
Many of the college students gathered nearby the demonstration's venue, listened to the speeches and engaged in discussions with the demonstrators. A few settlers shouted at the demonstrators that they are "Proud to be occupiers" and claimed that "Ariel in not a settlement".
The demonstration was widely covered by Israeli and foreign media: