Ariel College


A school in Ariel – yes, a “settlement” – has a program to help Arab students get into college in Israel… and amazingly, it gets high praise from everyone except Israel’s left:

The one-year program, which is financed by a new grant from the Council for Higher Education, offers math, English, Hebrew, computer and learning skills classes. Students who do well in the pre-college program according to criteria established by the college will be able to enroll in B.A. programs without taking the psychometric exam that is required of all potential university students in Israel.

Following the government’s decision to initiate a process for granting the College of Judea and Samaria the status of a university earlier this year, the college came under harsh criticism from individuals and groups of left-wing Israeli academics and political activists, who protested against granting university status to an institution they considered to be located on “a settlement in occupied land.”

The students, however, feel differently:

Traveling home on Monday afternoon from the College of Judea and Samaria, nineteen-year-old Majdi Karaki explained why he decided to commute a total of four hours a day, four times a week, from his home in the Ras El-Amud neighborhood of east Jerusalem to Ariel, where he enrolled this week in a special pre-college program for Arab students.

“Sure, some of my friends criticized me for my choice of school,” Karaki told The Jerusalem Post. “They asked me why I was going to study in the same college with Jewish settlers, but I just don’t care about what they say.”

[ . . . ]

Like others among the 300 Arab students currently enrolled in the college itself, however, Karaki said that a good, government-subsidized education, rather than politics, were his personal consideration when he decided to enroll.

“A friend of mine studies here, and I think this is one of the best colleges in Israel,” Karaki said.

“Arab students that come to study here are fulfilling a dream,” said Rifat Sweidan, who received a Masters in social work from Bar-Ilan University and is now the College of Judea and Samaria’s academic advisor for Arab students.

[ . . . ]

Cohen-Orgad also said that the college did not require its Arab students to hold Israeli citizenship. “The college’s charter says that it welcomes anyone whose deed or behavior does not counter the principles of Israel’s declaration of independence,” Cohen-Orgad said.

“The past four years have been very difficult ones,” he added. “But they passed without tensions between Arabs and Jews, and with an Israeli flag in every class and every lab.” Indeed, according to Sweidan, no Arab students have complained “of feeling racism or prejudice.”

Nobody’s arguing that the situation for Israeli Arabs is great. All agree that prejudice – in schools, in the job market – exists. But, in this example at least, it seems that there are people trying to actually do something to improve the situation… and then there are people attacking them for it. And they’re not the people you might expect.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Just asking 11.02.05 at 6:19 AM

Why the scare quotes on the word “settlement”? More generally, what are your views on settlements?


2 DaninVan 11.02.05 at 7:43 AM

Fe fi fo fum, I smell the the blood of a troll….


3 Just asking 11.02.05 at 4:26 PM


When people use scare quotes, it’s usually because they disagree with the word being used that way. Does Sega deny that Ariel is a settlement? If so, what is it? If not, why the use of scare quotes?

For me to be a troll would have required me to make inflammatory statements or to try to disrupt the discussion. There was no discussion to disrupt on this post and there wasn’t likely to be one and nothing I said was inflammatory, unless you consider talking about settlements to be inflammatory per se.


4 DaninVan 11.02.05 at 6:00 PM

a) Who or what is “Sega”?
b) Sari, will no doubt in the fullness of time, answer your questions.
c) In the meantime, by way of continuing the “discussion”, here’s my thoughts on the subject.

Sari used the quotations to call attention to the “settlement” factor as they (and the word)are a hotbutton. The point was that the “settlement” is doing something very proactive in helping non-Israeli Arabs break the cycle of self pitying welfarehood; something that’s completely contrary to Arab/palestinian protestations against anything and everything Israeli. It’s a good-news item that needs to be disseminated.
Note that the topic is Israelis helping Arab youth, not persecuting them. A “troll” wouldn’t see that.


5 segacs 11.02.05 at 6:32 PM

As nice as it is to see people happily explaining things on my behalf and putting words in my mouth, I’m also pretty capable of explaining what I mean on my own.

I used scare quotes around the word “settlement” because Israel’s enemies usually use the word in a pejorative term. Ariel is a city; an established community and a part of Israel. It was established legally with land that was purchased legally. It is in an area that is overwhelmingly Jewish, and the Ariel bloc will very likely be part of any future peace deal that might exist (perhaps with some sort of land swap). It belies the truth to call Ariel a “settlement” which brings to mind images of a tiny outpost surrounded by barbed wire in the middle of an Arab area.

You may find this recent interview with Ariel’s mayor an interesting read.


6 josh 11.02.05 at 8:16 PM

First of all,
it doesn’t take two hours to get from the college to east Jerusalem. I can do it in 40 minutes. Oh, maybe she’s talking about the bus. That actually enters a few “settlements” on it’s way to Jerusalem and extends the ride.

Ariel is a settlement and a city at the same time – there’s no contradiction and it interesting how people blind themselves into denial. It is …surrounded by barbed wire in the middle of an Arab area. ‘We’ are now building another fence around the city. A fake maginot line ‘separation fence’ that will be connected to nothing and completely open on the west side. There is no such thing as settlement blocs and no one accepts them except the Israelis who use it as fake rhrtoric. Gush Katif was a settlement bloc tucked far away from Arab areas with virtually no Arabs living in it either. Either Ariel and Har Bracha are in Israel or they aren’t. There’s no legitimacy or reality to say that Ariel is legitimate ‘Israel’ while ten metres from the fence isn’t.



7 DaninVan 11.02.05 at 9:30 PM

I can’t believe you guys are so easily distracted! The “settlement” thing is a red herring; the topic was the college’s efforts.
But thank you anyway, Josh, for your on-the-ground info. Some of the finer detail gets lost here due to the distance involved.


8 Tina 11.13.05 at 11:26 AM

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