The Biden administration is being called out for deciding to end all scientific and technological cooperation with Israeli entities in the West Bank (Samaria and Judea), East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
In 2020, the Trump administration reversed a longstanding directive preventing cooperation with Israelis living in those areas. It opened up opportunities for both Americans, Israelis and Palestinians to work on scientific projects that could improve the health and infrastructure of Palestinians and people around the world through advancements in science.
Now, as the Biden administration continues to isolate Israel, the Department of State is reinstating the ban, arguing that continued cooperation there “is inconsistent with U.S. foreign policy.”
Hebrew University, Israel’s top university and one of the leading research facilities in the world, is now banned from any work funded by U.S. government grants. In recent years, Hebrew University has made breakthroughs in autism, antibiotics, the reduction of cancer tumors, and Alzheimer’s treatments among hundreds of others. The school, located near the Mount of Olives, was also the first in Israel to accept test scores from Arab students coming from high schools in Palestinian-administered school districts.
In response to the Biden decision, Israel’s foreign minister Eli Cohen said, “I object to the decision and think it is wrong.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, had harsh words for the administration.
“Joe Biden and Biden administration officials are pathologically obsessed with undermining Israel,” he said. “Since day one of their administration, they have launched campaigns against our Israeli allies that are granular, whole of government and done in secret.”
According to Cruz, the Biden administration has defended funding scientific research in Wuhan, China, “but they’re discriminating against and banning cooperation with Jews based on where they live.”
Presidential candidate and former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley also condemned the decision in a statement. “Biden boycotting Israeli scientific projects does nothing to promote peace and is no way to treat an ally,” she said.
The Trump administration rolled back the ban shortly before the 2020 election. The U.S. enjoyed a close relationship with Israel when former president Donald Trump was in office. In 2018, the United States recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv. The Trump administration also recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights and mediated the Abraham Accords, normalizing relations between Israel and several Arab nations. Conversely, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized Biden for improperly intervening in Israel’s internal affairs.
The administration has also been accused of undermining Israel through its pursuit of a new Iran nuclear deal. House Foreign Affairs Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, rebuked the administration for attempting to circumvent Congress and reward Iran’s bad behavior. Israel has not ruled out air strikes against Iran amid fears it might continue to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.
Elliott Abrams, writing for the Council on Foreign Relations, a liberal think tank, also took issue with the decision.
“First, no one can point to any actual harm done by U.S. support for research at Ariel University or anywhere else in the covered territory. That is because there is no harm, and perhaps there is much good,” abrams writes. “I’d love to hear administration officials explain to an Israeli Arab or an Ethiopian-origin Israeli or a Ukrainian scholarship student why it was absolutely necessary that funds that might be supporting their research project had to be eliminated.”
Abrams says the decision, as part of a new isolation of Israel, is “”not mandatory nor is it sensible.”
Proponents of peace between Israel and the Palestinian authority took to social media saying the Biden decision only furthers the separation of Israelis and Palestinians and makes peace more difficult with both sides suffering.
The United States, under Biden, continues to fund Chinese labs and research facilities even as the world has condemned the genocide against indigenous people there.
–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice