The Spanish Government Boycotts the Environment

spain bull fighting israel photoBoycotting and destabilizing a country’s business heart for political reasons is fine in my books. But boycotting art, schools, or the environment? Spain, with which Israel has a number of high profile collaborative environmental projects in solar energy and in water, have decided to boycott a solar science project from an Israeli academic team because their college is in the West Bank region of Judea and Samaria.

The Israeli team was to have participated in the Madrid-hosted Solar Decathalon to take place next year. A similar event is happening the second week in October in the US. 

The Solar Decathalon in Madrid is supported by the US Department of Energy, Philips, Mitsubishi Electric, solar energy companies, Chrysler, DuPont, Velcro and many other large corporations.

According to Spanish News, “On Wednesday Spain disqualified academics from Israeli [sic] from competing in a solar power design event, due to the fact that their university falls into the West Bank region. This is part of a new set of sanctions against Israel relating to its current settlement policy.”

The boycott was proposed by the Spanish Housing Ministry, and the competition takes place next year in Madrid. The move disqualifies the students from the architecture department of Ariel University Center of Samaria from attending the meeting, for which they received $100,000 Euros to build their project.

It should also be noted that a very large percentage of the Arab students at the school are learning in this department, although I’ve read no media reports stating whether or not there were Arab students involved in this particular project. Should it matter?

From Ariel University, the Israeli student team had developed a project for the Solar Decathlon, an international competition between 20 universities intended to create the best design for solar powered homes. They called their project Stretch. 

The National Union of Israeli Students on Thursday sent a letter to both the Spanish and European student unions protesting the move, reports the Jerusalem Post:

“It’s unfortunate that irrelevant, faulty political motives have led to the decision to remove the application,” the letter stated. “We condemn the blatant harm that this has caused to academic freedom and ask you to help us act against this troublesome phenomenon.”

More from the Jerusalem Post: “Ariel University has also fired back, and in a response given earlier this week, the university called the decision “anti-academic”, and one that “harms some 10,000 students who study at the University, including the 500 Arab students who study here, and particularly the Jewish and Arab students of the School of Architecture.”

According to the Spanish news source, the “action comes as a result of current EU policy that opposes Israel occupying land that it deems belongs to Palestine, which Spain is supporting.”

Ynet writes: Sergio Vega, project manager of the Solar Decathlon, wrote in a communiqué to the college, “The decision was made by the Spanish government based on the fact that the university is located in occupied territory in the West Bank. The Spanish government is committed to uphold the international agreement under the framework of the European Union and the United Nations regarding this geographical area.”

The boycott was urged by Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine led by BNC – The Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions Campaign National Committee. And if you smell any trace of Naomi Klein in an Israeli boycott, you usually find her.  She’s a Canadian Jew, and pretty much behind any of the recent proposed boycotts of Israel from boycotting the Dead Sea scrolls in Toronto, to films about Tel Aviv in the Toronto International Film Festival.

She comes from a family of left-wing agitators, and has gained notoriety for her book No Logo, which we’ve reviewed on Green Prophet (frustrated with her screed). The Economist magazine has written a number of arguments against her flawed brand of anti-brandism. And later, the “Naomi Klein smackdown roundup”.

The boycott is truly good news for the Islamic Awakening forum, in their jihad news group where members supports Bin Laden: “Nice news! It seems the rising against IsraHell has awaken in the whole world! Tough times ahead for the little Genocidal Zionist Country!”

What did they boycott anyway?

From Ariel University website:

tent-of-abraham-solar-house-arielInspired by the “Tent of Abraham”, the Stretch House is modular, versatile and welcoming. It is adaptable according to its owner’s wishes and is able to expand and create hospitable spaces.

In its closed state when additional space is not required, it uses only half the energy necessary to operate a regular house, and when needed, it opens up – much like a modern tent – and welcomes you in.

Interesting to note how the Spaniards would accept submissions from the school if it were not located in the West Bank, considering that the Israeli Government supports Ariel as it does other institutions of higher learning in Israel.

My view is if you are going to boycott a country, you should do it in whole and on sanctions regarding imports and products – and you should do it across the board with all your government ministries. To boycott Ariel College and not other Israeli universities is just ridiculous. Boycott them all I say, or none at all.

One in 20 students at Ariel University is from the Arab population, so who are they hurting? And if the Spaniards want to do the boycott even more justice, they should boycott Solel, now building solar power stations in Spain, and Israeli water technology and know-how, being implemented to help Spain stave off drought.

I think it will be very interesting to see how diplomats from Spain (and the US via their Department of Energy) will be scrambling to fix this one. I’ve been to many a number of clean technology conferences in Israel, heavily attended by Spanish government officials, mayors and business people. I am quite sure not everyone will be happy with this boycott, which seems small, but which says a lot.

Or maybe the boycott is just a big ruse so the Spanish team can knock out their the competition to win? That’s probably the true motive. Email the Spain’s team leader and ask him: Josep M. Adell, Professor ETS Architecture / Project Manager and Technical Team: [email protected]

::Spanish News

::Solar Decathalon website

::Follow the story on the Associated Press

The Palestine Telegraph posts a fairly interesting to the side of the story (from the Guardian newspaper), reporting on rising anti-semitism in Spain, and Madrid in particular.

(image via subtlepanda)

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11 thoughts on “The Spanish Government Boycotts the Environment”

  1. Does anyone know where the status of this boycott stands?

  2. Esti Allina-Turnauer says:

    Only ignorant people compare Israel’s situation with apartheid and other such segregated policies. It is the Arabs who do not want to mix with the Jews. Is the Arabs who rejected and continue to reject a partition of the land. How exactly is it ‘theirs’? Who are they? Palestine is the name of the country occupied by both Jews, Arabs, and Christians before being declared an independent Jewish State. The arabs were invited to stay and build and live together, but ever since then they choose war. They got Gaza and did they build? No, they destroyed anything left to them – the businesses, the hot houses, everything and escalated their attacks on civilians in sovereign, internationally recognized Israel.

    The so-called disputed territories are only such because no one wants these Arabs – not even their own brethren.

    Again, why is it ok to expel Jews from anywhere, but not Arabs? You (S2ao) wouldn’t be playing the apartheid card if it were Jews being removed from Arab areas.

    Israel is the size of New Jersey, with much of it desert.
    Arabs have 21 countries.

    Now apply some logic to the situation.

    In any case a boycott of a project that can ultimately benefit mankind is just counterproductive, back-assward thinking. It hurts the Arabs, it doesn’t help them except to empower them by adding your hate to theirs.

  3. S2ao says:

    Say what?

    Of course it is right. Israeli settlements on the West Bank are deemed illegal by everyone, regardless of what Israel says, and any project that benefits from using land stolen from Palestinians should be boycotted.

    …and please stop it with the anti-Semitism card

    If Aparheid South Africa, or the current Burmese regime, or Saddam Hussein were building environmental projects, would you want to co-operate with them?

  4. Maurice says:

    Spain boycotting Israel?

    Of course! Look what they’ve done to the Jewish People ever since the beginning of the “Holy Inquisition” in the 1,400’s. The Inquistion, by the way, only formally ended in the 19th Century.

    As for the Arab students, the Church vested it’s hatred toward Muslims as well, throwing out a rich and cultured civilization which had been living in southern Spain for hundreds of years. Cities like Cadiz and Granada still show the influence of the Moors in their archtecture, a profession which was brought to a high level during the reign of the Moors.

    Maybe the Spaniards are trying to prevent the Muslims from taking over their country again, since many Muslims once again live in parts of Spain.

    As for Jews, even though a few are now living again in Spain, there will never be a large presence there.

    It it ironic though that many Israeli solar energy projects have been erected in Spain, despite this boycott.

  5. I think readers should know that one of the men who has founded the boycott Israeli academic institutions movement in the PA is an Israeli Arab currently studying at Tel Aviv University. Talk about having strange priorities. This is a movement – in my opinion – that uses the system and the good values of the west to further its cause, rooted in hate and destruction. Not peacebuilding.

    From Haaretz:

    Link: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1117129.html

  6. I disagree. The decision, according to the Anti-Defamation League was “spurious.” The fact is the university is there. It is supported by Israeli funds, and it is attended to by Israelis, including Arab citizens.

    A boycott, if to be made by Spain, should be made across the board. They, through the BNC, have found a weak link to latch onto. The BNC, if you read their charter, Michael, doesn’t support a 2-state solution at all. They are quite radical.

    And if Judea and Samaria was to become in part a Palestinian state, why couldn’t there be a Jewish university there?

    Please send link to 30% of the University being on privately-owned land.

  7. Michael says:

    A sensible and moral decision from Spain considering that over 30% of the Ariel settlement is constructed on land that is privately-owned by Palestinians. Not the greatest approach to safeguarding either the environment or neighbourly relations.

    If they don’t want to be boycotted, Ariel college should move its faculties to Israel – and stop siphoning away resources from the countries ailing educational and security system.

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