More Than 3,000 Scholars Worldwide Support a Statement Condemning Spain's Expulsion of the Ariel University Center From the Solar Decathlon 2010

By Scholars For Peace In The Middle East, PRNE
Sunday, February 14, 2010

CLEVELAND and VIENNA, February 15, 2010 -

    - By - Peter J. Haas, Case Western Reserve University; President, SPME

         - Ruth Contreras, Ph.D., U. of Vienna & Natural History Museum

Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) has issued a statement
( signed by 9 Nobel
Laureates and 3,100 faculty members from 33 countries condemning the
expulsion of Ariel University Center from the 2010 Solar Decathlon in Spain
and requesting reinstatement.

Many of the academics who signed this statement, including scholars from
universities that have participated, or are now participating, in Solar
Decathlon competitions, have expressed concern that the expulsion, as an
exclusively political decision, could damage the reputation of the Solar
Decathlon and its organizers. Others pointed out, as Ariel's president did,
that the decision affects not only Jewish but also Arab students. Our
principle, as one signer put it, is that "academic freedom and human rights
must be protected and extended, universally, across the world."

In September 2009, the Spanish Ministry of Housing expelled the Ariel
University Center from participation in the Solar Decathlon 2010 competition.
Ariel had been chosen, in October 2008, as one of 20 finalists in that
competition, the first of its kind to be held in Europe. The reasons for
Ariel's expulsion were not academic or technical but strictly political, as
the Spanish government itself declared. According to a press release
( issued by the
Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Spain's Ministry of Foreign Affairs justified
the expulsion by invoking the "position of the international community" on
Israeli settlements and the fact that "the European Union has repeatedly
declared that settlements are illegal under international law and constitute
an obstacle to peace."

Further documentation is provided by the statement of one of the
organizations pushing for the expulsion, PACBI (the Palestinian Campaign for
the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel)
(, a letter
( of July 2009 from the
International Union of Architects (UIA) to the Spanish Ministry of Housing,
and requests ( from the
Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Campaign to the Spanish Ministry of Housing
and the Rector of the Universidad politecnica de Madrid.

According to Ariel's president, Professor Dan Meyerstein, who was
contacted by SPME, this decision affects not only Jewish students but also
the 500 Arab students at the Ariel University Center.

Letters of concern asking for reinstatement of Ariel have been sent to
the Spanish government and other officials. To date these letters remain
unacknowledged and unanswered.

SPME has sent its statement to EU President Jose Luis Zapatero, to the
incoming EU president Herman van Rompuy, and to Professor Steven Chu, the
U.S. Secretary of Energy; the Department of Energy is the main sponsor of the
Solar Decathlon competitions.

Peter Haas, SPME President, peter.haas at, or Ruth Contreras, SPME Board of Directors Secretary, ruth.contreras at;

will not be displayed