USACBI Condemns US Science Funding of Illegal Israeli Institutions

On October 28, 2020, the Trump administration eliminated U.S. government restrictions on US scientific funding to Israeli institutions in illegal settlements in Palestine.  Those restrictions were part of U.S. policy since the 1970s.  On the same day, the Trump administration initiated a new science and technology cooperation agreement between the U.S. and Israel that further legitimizes Ariel University and illegal Israeli settler-colonial institutions in general [1].

The Organizing Collective of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) condemns this latest step toward normalization of Israeli apartheid by the U.S. Government.

Ariel, the settlement in which Ariel University resides, was built on land stolen from Palestinian families who had lived and farmed on it for generations [2].  Human Rights Watch describes Ariel’s development as “inseparable from a history of continuous dispossession of Palestinians from their land and restrictions on their freedom of movement”[3].   United Nations Resolution 2334 declared that this and other Israeli settlement activity “has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law” [4]. The settlements are a part of Israel’s system of oppression, and dominate all aspects of Palestinian life. Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Israeli settlements constitute a war crime.

In 2018, leading physicists, including David Gross, Martin Rees and Edward Witten, published an open letter calling for scientists not to attend a conference at Ariel University, and to decline to participate in “attempts to normalise the occupation of Palestinian territories” [5].  Ariel University continues to be excluded, rightly so, from funding by the European Union and the German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development.

USACBI calls for a renewed commitment to the principles of BDS, and to the academic and cultural boycott of Israel. In the words of Nobel Peace prize laureate Desmond Tutu, “Israeli Universities are an intimate part of the Israeli regime, by active choice. While Palestinians are not able to access universities and schools, Israeli universities produce the research, technology, arguments and leaders for maintaining the occupation.” [6]


[1] U.S. Embassy in Israel Press Release: U.S., Israel Expand Reach of Binational Foundations and Establish New Scientific and Technological Cooperation Agreement, October 28, 2020

[2] Ariel settlement fact sheet, B’tselem, 2010, updated 2012

[3] Occupation, Inc. How Settlement Businesses Contribute to Israel’s Violations of Palestinian Rights, Human Rights Watch Report, January 19, 2016

[4] United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 (2016)

[5] Don’t let science legitimise Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, Guardian, U.S. Edition, August 31, 2018

[6]  “Israeli ties: a chance to do the right thing,” Times Live, Archbishop Desmond Tutu , 26 September 2010

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