Paris, 7 October 2009
In a letter to Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR, an office of the OSCE) Director, Ambassador Janez Lenarcic, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's Director for International Relations, Dr Shimon Samuels, called attention to "Spain's contravention of its commitments as a State Party of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe."
Samuels pointed to the announcement by Spanish Housing Minister, Beatriz Corredor, excluding the Ariel University scientific team from the Solar Decathlon Europe competition, as "constituting:
- political discrimination against free academic discourse;
- impugning of the professional reputation, and potentially damages the career advancement, of those disinvited;
- denial, especially to impoverished sectors, vital knowledge for the use of free solar-powered housing."
The letter continued, "In a country where polls indicate a high increase in media-inspired antisemitic expression, this decision by the Spanish authorities certainly violates the OSCE Berlin Declaration on Antisemitism of 29 April 2004, and the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency Working Definition of Antisemitism, disseminated in March 2004 on the grounds of incitement to hatred."
Samuels added, "The Spanish action, moreover, is collective punishment of both the Jewish and Arab students of the targeted Israeli university."
The Centre urged "ODIHR's condemnation of Spain for its discriminatory behaviour."