Ariel study rejected because author refused to remove written in Israel

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An activist group asked the journal to change the address to say “Ariel University, illegal Israeli settlement of Ariel, Occupied Palestinian Territory.”

Ariel University (photo credit: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/יצחק שליסל)

Ariel University

(photo credit: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/יצחק שליסל)

The international science journal “Molecules” canceled the publication of a study by Dr. Mindy Levine from Ariel University after she refused to erase the word “Israel” in the address of the university, according to Israeli activists.

The study was originally meant to be featured in the journal’s January 2021 edition. Levine marked the address in the study as “The Department of Chemical Sciences, Ariel University, Ramat HaGolan 65, Ariel, Israel.”

A group of chemists from around the world complained to “Molecules” that Ariel is located in occupied territory and not in Israel. The group is led by Prof. George Smith, winner of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, and Prof. Malcolm Levitt, a Fellow of the Royal Society. The group asked the journal to change the address to say “Ariel University, illegal Israeli settlement of Ariel, Occupied Palestinian Territory,” according to the Palestinian No Academic Business as Usual with Ariel University initiative.

After the complaint was issued, the editors of “Molecules” asked Levine to remove the word Israel from the address at the head of the study, but Levine refused and the journal cancelled the publication of the study.

Levine is an olah (immigrant) from the US who was at the University of Rhode Island, Columbia, MIT and other universities before arriving at Ariel in 2019, according to a profile on Ariel University’s website.

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The group led by Smith and Levitt has worked for years to prevent cooperation with Ariel University, claiming that the university is illegal and built in an illegal settlement.

“All we asked in the original petition was for Professor Levine to correct the address of her university to comply with international law: Ariel is an Israeli Jewish settlement in Occupied Palestinian Territory, not a town in Israel,” said Smith in response to the cancellation, according to No Academic Business as Usual with Ariel University.  “Sadly, she has refused, effectively choosing pro-occupation propaganda over her own academic freedom and the larger interest of the global science community in unfettered publication of scientific ideas and results. The editors of Molecules are to be commended for taking the only responsible course of action in the circumstances.”

“All that was asked of Dr. Mindy Levine was that she be more exact with facts. Ariel is not part of the State of Israel. That is not a political statement, it is a simple fact,” said Adam Keller, the spokesperson for the Gush Shalom movement, in a statement. “Ariel is not part of the State of Israel, not according to international law and also not according to the laws of the State of Israel itself.”

Keller stated that the full legal process including a decision by the government and the passing of an annexation law by the Knesset, would need to be carried out for Ariel to be considered part of Israel. “A process such as this has never been carried out concerning Ariel,” stressed Keller, pointing to the planned annexation announced earlier this year that would have affected Ariel, but was never carried out.

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“Therefore, the factual situation is clear – Ariel is not a part of the State of Israel and also does not stand to become a part of the State of Israel in the foreseeable future,” said Keller.

“Scientists are obligated to be precise with facts – this is a basic and self-evident duty for all chemists as in any other science. The publication of the address ‘Ariel, Israel’ at the head of an article would constitute a blatant and obvious factual distortion to any eye, and would call into question the factual credibility of all the research that followed it,” added Keller. “It is a pity that a talented and active researcher, who gained a reputation in the American universities where she lectured and engaged in research, chose to move to a university in occupied territory and thus cast a heavy shadow on the continuation of her scientific work.”

The Jerusalem Post has reached out for comment for additional comments from both sides. This is a developing story.

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