Stand with Israeli university students for a greener planet

Spain has pulled a fast one and taken politics to the arena of academic competition, refusing to let Israel's Ariel University Center - a university with both Israeli and Arab students - participate in Solar Decathlon 2010, after the Ariel U team already qualified for the finals.  Spain is the host of the Solar Decathlon 2010 - the goal of which is to build the best solar house.  According to one of this year's Solar Decathlon Europe's (the first year Europe is hosting it) official web site (click on Solar Decathlon Europe menu, then History),
The Solar Decathlon is a competition organized by the U.S. Department of Energy in which universities from across the globe meet to design and build an energetically self-sufficient house that runs only on solar energy, is connected to a power grid, and incorporates technologies that maximize its energy efficiency.

In the final phase of the competition, teams will assemble their prototypes in the so-called ‘Solar Village.’ The prototypes designed by the participating teams will then ‘compete’ in a set of ten contests (Decathlon) in order to demonstrate the self-sufficiency and energy efficiency of each house.
It is an academic competition, and it is wrong to exclude students that have worked hard and already qualified for the finals.   I believe that it is contrary to academic freedom, detrimental to the spirit of open competition and most importantly, counterproductive to the goal of the Solar Decathlon - which is to find the best group of student scientists that can produce a solar house and provide a model for the world's clean energy future.  That is why I am asking everyone reading this to sign the petition to Spain to have this decision to inject politics in academics reversed, and if they won't, ask the US Department of Energy to rescind its sponsorship of the event.

Spain has expelled the Ariel University Center of Israel from this competition on the premise that the university is located in the West Bank and that Europe does not recognize the Israeli settlements in the West Bank.  It is rather curious that Spain only noticed the location of the university after the Ariel U team qualified for the finals, with the rather ridiculous excuse that they did not come to know of the university's physical location until recently.  I smell something rotten.  Anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic sentiment is on the rise in Spain, and it is being taken out on students.

If Spain won't rescind its decision and let the Ariel University Center team in, then the United States must stand for academic freedom and stand by one of our best allies in the world, Israel.  The Department of Energy, which started the Solar Decathlon and is a main sponsor of it this year, must condemn Spain's behavior and at once, end its sponsorship of this year's event.  I signed the petition, because I agree, wholeheartedly, with this:
Political extremists have launched yet another Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign targeting Israel. They pressured Spain into abruptly expelling Ariel University Center (AUC) from the 2010 Solar Decathlon, an international competition for building a self-sustaining solar house, even though Ariel’s team was chosen as one of 20 finalists. The U.S. Department of Energy created the first Solar Decathlon in 2002, agreed in 2007 to have Spain host the competition in alternating years, and is co-sponsoring the 2010 event.

BDS’s goal of spreading the 60-year-old Arab boycott against Israel violates all standards for international cooperation which call for transcending political grievances in joint research that will advance human knowledge and benefit humanity. BDS activists oppose and threaten those ideals. Spain has capitulated to their demands.
This is an academic event, not a political one.  Aspirations of students and the future of our planet are intertwined.   It's time to stop giving into the hostile campaigns against Israel and uphold the ethics of academic freedom.  Watch the video of Israeli and Arab students speaking out against this unjust campaign:




Please sign the petition.  After you do that, you might want to leave a note to the President at the White House, as well as contact your members of the House and the Senate.

By the way, if you would like to see the incredible work the students at Ariel University Center have already done on this project, check out their project web site.