In the past year, a consensus has emerged in Washington that Beijing poses an economic, security, and military threat to American interests. The Trump administration has therefore been pressuring its allies, including Israel, to pull back from commercial and technological cooperation with China. As a result, the Jewish state has taken some important steps to distance itself from the Asian power. But, write Mark Dubowitz and Jonathan Schanzer, the U.S. must also help Jerusalem find much-needed economic investment elsewhere, and can do so in ways beneficial to America’s emerging anti-China coalition:
Founded in 1977 by the U.S. and Israel with bipartisan support from Congress, the Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation (BIRD) had approved 1,000 joint American-Israeli projects and grants of $363 million, as of 2019. Other binational agreements between the two countries build on the BIRD model, including the Binational Agricultural Research and Development fund and the Binational Science Foundation.
[Additionally, there is the] potential of bringing in America’s Indo-Pacific allies who view Beijing’s rise with justifiable alarm. They can displace Chinese investments. The India-Israel Research and Development Cooperation Initiative, for example, which is based on the BIRD model, could include American participation to jumpstart greater Indian investment in Israel’s high-tech sector. Other Indo-Pacific allies should be brought into new BIRD-like trilateral agreements with the U.S. and Israel in order to unleash more capital.
Congress should build upon the success of the BIRD. It has already jumpstarted U.S.-Israel high-tech cooperation. It’s time now to help Israel and our friends in the Indo-Pacific region develop technologies critical to the competition with Beijing. In doing so, America can displace Chinese funding in Israel and mount a successful campaign to counter Chinese influence that should have started long ago.