Who decided to establish new universities over the years? It was the government, and only the government. And it was the government that decided to grant university status to the school in Ariel now.
In the history of Israel, never has a university been established without any opposition from the existing universities that preceded it. I spoke with someone who attended the committee that decided on the establishment of Tel Aviv University in the 1950s. He told me about the fiery opposition voiced in that forum by Hebrew University’s Professor Ben Zion Dinur: “Degrees will roll around freely,” he reportedly said. “Woe to higher education.”
Ironically, only Ariel actually met the strict criteria that were instituted especially for the occasion. Pay close attention to the individuals who manned the evaluation committee that examined Ariel’s academic activity: Nobel Prize laureate Professor Robert Aumann (Hebrew University); Professor Amos Altshuler (Ben-Gurion University); Professor Meir Wilchek (Weizmann Institute); Professor David Hasson (Technion); the late Professor Yuval Neeman (Tel Aviv University); and Professor Daniel Sperber (Bar Ilan Univeristy).
How is Emanuel Trajtenberg, the chairman of the Planning and Budgeting Committee, or the Committee of University Heads more authoritative than these renowned professors, who determined that Ariel did in fact meet the necessary criteria? What do the former know that the latter have yet to learn? One of Israel’s most veteran professors, who was involved in the establishment of previous universities, said to me: “You want to know why there is opposition? They want monopoly. That is all. Everything else is excuses, including the budget issue. These are just empty arguments to hang onto. They want monopoly.”
In conclusion: Ariel University will flourish as Israel’s eighth university and pose a profound Zionist challenge to the old academic establishment.
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