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Spain’s High Court Awards Israeli University $100,000 in Discrimination Lawsuit

Spain’s Supreme Court awarded Israel’s Ariel University over $100,000 in damages after it was illegally excluded from a scientific competition by Spain’s Housing Ministry, Benjamin Weinthal reported in The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.

The landmark ruling marks the end of a case that began after the university was blocked in 2009 from participating in the Solar Decathlon Europe, a global competition to design solar-powered homes.

According to a university statement, Ariel received an invitation to participate in the international competition from Spain’s Housing Ministry, the organizer. The competition was open to universities from around the world.

“In 2008, Ariel University was selected as one of 21 finalist universities,” the statement said. “Ariel University was the only Israeli and Middle Eastern finalist in the competition.” …

According to the university, in 2009, the Spanish government notified it that it had been ousted from the competition because “your institution is located in the occupied territories and since we are bound to respect the position of the European Union in relation to this matter, we are compelled to announce that it will not be possible for your center to continue in this competition.”

The court found that the exclusion of Ariel University contravened Spanish law, which guarantees a right to equality in Article 14 of its constitution.

Yigal Cohen-Orgad, the university’s chancellor, said that the court’s decision was “a partial, but necessary, response to the pressure being mounted by the BDS movement around the globe, and proves that efforts to isolate and demonize Israel can and will be thwarted.”

Weinthal quoted Angel Mas, president of the Spanish pro-Israel organization ACOM, who said, “Every day, in every attempt by BDS [and others] to delegitimize and demonize the only democracy in the Middle East, we make sure they all receive a vigorous response.”

According to Northwestern University law professor Eugene Kontorovich, “The important legal victory shows that Europe’s treatment of Israeli entities and people in Judea and Samaria is legally baseless, and amounts to arbitrary discrimination.”

This is the second significant legal setback to anti-Israel activists in Spain. Last month, a top Spanish court cancelled arrest orders issued against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other past and present senior Israeli officials for their role in the Mavi Marmara incident in 2010.

The Spanish Supreme Court decision comes at a time when a number of European nations are defying the European Union’s controversial labeling guidelines for Israeli goods produced beyond the 1949 armistice lines.

In November, Hungary’s foreign minister said that his nation opposed the EU’s guidelines, calling them “irrational” and harmful to peace efforts. Last month, Greece also announced its opposition to the directive. A few weeks later, the Czech Republic’s parliament recommended that the government reject the guidelines, with Czech Culture Minister Daniel Herman observing that it was “absolutely necessary to reject the efforts to discriminate against the only democracy in the Middle East.”

[Photo: Flash90 ]