Ariel – Part university, part political statement

With the well-kept grass verges and cafés serving paninis and chilled beer and coke, Ariel University resembles any modern campus in Britain or the US. It isn’t: it is Israel’s first settler university, given official status with a great deal of controversy in July, writes Michael Chessum for New Statesman.

With Salfit to its south and Nablus further to its north, Ariel is deep inside the West Bank. It is one of the major population centres annexed to ‘greater Israel’ by the construction of the separation wall, whose route loops around the city, taking vast tracts of land from local Palestinian communities. To look at, Ariel’s campus and media presence barely hints at the significance of its geographical location.

The tension between Ariel’s claim to be a normal university and its political role in cementing an Israeli civilian population in the West Bank is rapidly becoming a symbolic battleground over the future viability of a two-state solution and, for many, a sign that Israel’s academia should be boycotted internationally.
Full report on the New Statesman site