Spain expels Israeli scientists from solar energy competition

September 26th, 2009 | Posted in Boycott, Palestine
Share Thursday 24 September 2009.


    Photo: Masser Israel’s apartheid wall in occupied Palestine.

Spain’s government today said it had expelled a group of Israeli scientists from a state-funded solar energy competition because they were based in occupied areas of the West Bank.

The decision to expel the team from the Ariel University Centre of Samaria from Solar Decathlon Europe, an international competition involving 20 universities, provoked angry reactions in Israel.

The Israeli team had been selected as one of the 20 finalists in a competition to design solar-powered housing that is part-sponsored by the US energy department. Spain is hosting the first European version of the event next year and claims ultimate say over who takes part.

“This university is in the occupied territories and all the ministry has done is apply the policy of the European Union,” a housing ministry spokesman said. “The EU does not recognise the occupation of the West Bank which is where this university is.”

The Israeli university replied that it “rejects with disgust the one-sided announcement we received from the Spanish housing ministry”.

It claimed the decision both “contravenes international law and international charters on academic freedom” and harms 10,000 students at the university, including 500 Arabs.

It was only after the Israeli project joined the group of finalists, which include the University of Nottingham, that officials at Spain’s housing ministry were made aware that the university was in the West Bank.

Both the Israelis and the US energy department were advised of the decision over a week ago.

The Israeli team had described their “stretch house” project as being inspired by the Tent of Abraham. “It is adaptable according to its owner’s wishes and is able to expand and create hospitable spaces,” they said. “In its closed state when additional space is not required, it uses only half the energy necessary to operate a regular house.”

Spain had been under pressure from pro-Palestinian groups which claimed that allowing the Israeli university to take part was a breach of international law.

They said that the university was located in the Ariel settlement, the second biggest zone in Israel’s expanding West Bank presence.

In a letter to housing minister Beatriz Corredor, Fayeq Kishawi, coordinator of a Palestinian campaign group against the settlements, said: “As somebody suffering like the others from Ariel’s continuous ‘stretching’ I wonder how the Solar Decathlon can accept a project submitted by an institution that has stolen our land and will build its project on our stolen land.”

Spain has recently been at the centre of complaints by Jewish groups who claim that anti-Semitism there is on the rise.

A decision by El Mundo newspaper to publish an interview with Holocaust-denying historian David Irving angered the Israeli ambassador, Raphael Schutz, who claimed it showed a lack of moral and ethical judgement.

The ambassador has been subject to racial abuse on the streets of Madrid, where he was recently approached by three men who shouted “dirty Jew,” “Jew bastard” and “Jewish dog”.

A report this week by the New York-based Anti-Defamation League complained of what it claimed was a rise in anti-Semitism across Spain and, especially, in its mainstream media.

“We are deeply concerned about the mainstreaming of anti-Semitism in Spain, with more public expressions and greater public acceptance of classic stereotypes,” said the league’s director, Abraham H Foxman.

“Among the major European countries, only in Spain have we seen viciously anti-Semitic cartoons in the mainstream media, and street protests where Israel is accused of Genocide and Jews are vilified and compared to Nazis.”


the cost of Solar Cells for Solar Energy utilization has been decreasing over the past years. pretty soon, solar energy would be a more viable alternative than fossil fuels.

Comment by acnerdy — November 4th, 2009 @ 2:13 AM

Solar Energy is one of the best ways to get clean energy. Today the efficieny of solar power is a bit low but with advances in technology, solar cells will become more and more efficient in harnessing the energy of the sun.

Comment by Harold Brewster — April 13th, 2010 @ 1:50 PM

Solar Energy is one of the best sources of clean and green electricity. I think that we should build more efficient solar thermal power plants and solar cells. frequently. .

Comment by Chloe Anderson — April 29th, 2010 @ 12:39 AM

Leave a comment

Upcoming events