Ariel University wins 100,000 Euro discrimination claim and rogue Spanish judge stopped from issuing arrest warrants for Israelis.
Spain has a particularly virulent anti-Israel movement both in the form of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, and rogue judges who threaten to issue warrants for the arrest of Israeli officials.
As to BDS, recall it was the Valencia BDS group that got American Jewish singer Matisyahu banned from a reggae festival after he refused to sign a declaration denouncing Israel. The decision was reversed after an outcry and statements by the Spanish government that the action was illegal discrimination.
The Spanish court system just dealt another blow to BDS efforts, finding that excluding Ariel University, located beyond the 1949 armistice line in Samaria (West Bank), from academic programs in Spain constituted illegal discrimination. The Jerusalem Post reports, In setback for BDS, Spain awards West Bank school €70,000:
Spain’s Supreme Court, the Council of State, has issued a landmark ruling against the country’s Housing Ministry for illegally excluding Israel’s Ariel University from a scientific competition in 2009.
The legal victory, which was announced last week but made public by Ariel University on Tuesday, is a significant setback for Spanish BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) activists targeting the Jewish state.
The Council of State added €70,000 to a previous court penalty compensation of €30,000 awarded to the university. The award now totals €100,000.
Ariel University’s chancellor, Yigal Cohen-Orgad, said the 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.”
The case dates back to 2009, when Spain blocked Ariel University from participating in a sustainable energy design competition, Solar Decathlon Europe.
“It’s not a simple fight, but we are successfully combating both anti-Semitism and BDS in Spain,” said Angel Mas, president of ACOM, a pro-Israel organization in Spain.
Ynet News has details on the competition and the exclusion:
The compensation was for an incident in which 15 architecture students were barred from an international competition sponsored by the Spanish Housing Ministry because they came “from the occupied territories”.
The payment brought an end to a five-year legal struggle led by the university. The saga began in 2009, when the Ariel University team advanced to become one of 21 finalists in a competition for designing an environmentally-friendly home. The team’s project received an enthusiastic response – in fact, Spain’s housing minister came to see the model house for herself.
Behind the scenes, though, the BDS movement was applying heavy pressure on authorities to disqualify the Israelis because they came from West Bank settlements, resulting in an announcement that the Ariel University team was withdrawing from the competition.
The Tower Magazine points out the significance:
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.”…
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 1967 armistice lines.
Chalk up one victory.
But there was a second recent legal victory in Spain, which has a long history of activist judges (who serve an investigative function in Spain as in many European legal systems) trying to issue warrants for the arrest of Israeli officials purportedly to investigate charges of war crimes.
In March 2009 we explained how American leftists were attempting to use these Spanish judges against Israelis, The American Left Outsources The Spanish Inquisition:
For the left, in American and elsewhere, European universal jurisdiction has become the weapon of choice to resolve political disputes. Israeli officials are the primary target of such Spanish Inquisitions, but Americans have been targeted in the past. European universal jurisdiction has become a tool to attack democracies, while the leaders of countries where real torture is practiced go free.
After extensive abuses, Spain changed its laws years ago, but that hasn’t stopped all the judges.
Spain’s Supreme Court just shut down another such attempt:
Spain’s National Court overruled a lower court’s decision calling for the authorities to arrest Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, and additional officials over Israel’s seizure of the Mavi Marmara vessel in 2010.
“It is good that this matter has been put to rest,” David Hatchwell Altaras, President of the Jewish Community of Madrid and Chairman of Taglit Europe, told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday. “What is appalling is that a Spanish judge would want to open a case related to the only country in the Middle East where a legal system guarantees fairness. Where are cases being opened against Khamenei, Assad, al-Baghdadi and other undisputed violators of human rights?”
These victories show that even in Spain the government and judiciary are waking up to the threat to civil society posed by BDS.