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Monday, October 18, 2010

500 Arabs enroll at Ariel University

One of my classmates in elementary school was Dr. Yitzchak Klein, who is better known today as one of the founders of Professors for a Safe Israel. Yitzchak left Boston after 6th grade, made aliya in 9th grade, and later returned to the US to attend college at Brandeis University. He returned to Israel and now lives in Judea. We spent a year in yeshiva living next door to each other.

He has a story he used to love to tell about an argument he once had with the Jewish chaplain at Brandeis. The chaplain asked him where he saw himself 20 years hence, and Yitzchak told him that he saw himself as a professor at 'Shomron University.' The chaplain looked at him in horror and said "Shomron University? Isn't that occupied territory?"

Yitzchak had a lot more foresight than the chaplain. The picture at the top of this post was at the dedication ceremony for Ariel University in Samaria, as 'Shomron University' is known today. The sign at the top says "the Judea and Samaria Academic College" because that's how it was known until it got its university license. But the chaplain at Brandeis in the mid-70's might be consoled by the fact that 500 'Israeli Arab' and Druze students are enrolled at Ariel this semester. Yes, the university that so upset the Leftists because it's located in Samaria (the Leftists tried to prevent it from being licensed) is a model of coexistence.
"I scored high on my psychometric exam and could have enrolled in Tel Aviv University and other institutions, but here the enrollment process was quicker. This was the first place that accepted me, so I decided to go for it," said 20-year-old Tayibe resident Manar Diuani, who is studying computer science.

A group of prominent Israeli artists recently caused a public uproar when they drafted a letter declaring their refusal to perform in Ariel's new cultural hall for political reasons.

Diuani, an Arab-Israeli, told Ynet the settlement issue does not concern her. "I separate studies from politics. I don’t think where I go to school will matter to anyone – only my grades and diploma will matter."

Another Arab student, who chose to remain anonymous, said, "We did not come here because of the ideology; we came here to get an education, and we don’t want to link this to politics."

Asad, 25, from the Druze village Hurfish, was recently discharged from the IDF after serving as an officer in a secret unit. He rents a room at the university's dorms and is studying for a BA degree in civil engineering. "I didn’t take the psychometric exam, so the Technion (Israel Institute of Technology) was out of the question. Beersheba is too far, and as a family man I wanted to stay close by," said Asad, who is married with a daughter.

"Ariel is a large city that has existed for many years and will continue to exist without me. In this case, politics is pushed to the side," he told Ynet.
Forget the politics. Real coexistence is happening wherever the Arab side is willing to let it happen.


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