Under pressure from Ariel University and outside pro-Israeli settlement actors, the scientific journal Molecules has reversed its decision to withdraw a special issue after the guest editor from Ariel University refused to correct her affiliation falsely listing her university as in Israel.

Ariel University is an Israeli academic institution located in an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied Palestinian territory in violation of international law.

Molecules has since restored the special issue announcement unchanged and its publisher, MDPI, published a “political neutrality” statement that acknowledged it had received “several complaints from the scientific community” over the location of Ariel University on the announcement.

MDPI also updated its “ethical guidelines” for authors adding that it “stays neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.”

Israeli settlements are illegal and are not part of Israel, according to International law, as reconfirmed by the United Nations Security Council in 2016.

Allowing a guest editor to falsify the location of her university and instituting a policy that enables the falsification to continue in all MDPI journals is not neutral and certainly not ethical. Rather, it allows Ariel University to continue what renowned South African international law scholar John Dugard has said it was designed to do, “legitimize and bolster an illegal occupation.”

As Nobel Peace Prize laureate and anti-Apartheid icon Archbishop Desmond Tutu famously said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

The Palestinian call for non-recognition of Ariel University specifically urges all academic journals “to insist that submissions from academics affiliated to Ariel University must include the fact that it is located in an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied Palestinian territory.” This authoritative call was issued by the Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education, the Council of Palestinian Universities’ Presidents, the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE) and the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC).

Ariel University is directly complicit in Israel’s system of oppression that has denied Palestinians their basic rights guaranteed by international law, including the right to education and academic freedom.

Correctly and factually indicating Ariel University affiliations is a natural and moral choice for journals and institutions wanting to uphold those rights for all.