The Biden Administration’s Boycott of (Some) Israeli Universities Helps No One

On Monday, the State Department announced that it has directed government agencies to cease all scientific and technological cooperation with academic institutions located in territories acquired by the Jewish state during the Six-Day War. Elliott Abrams considers the effects on Ariel University, a West Bank institution with some 17,000 students, a medical school, and a special program for Ukrainian refugees:

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. 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.

Second, the argument that supporting research in those locations (east Jerusalem, the Golan, and the West Bank) is “inconsistent with U.S. foreign policy” and thus absolutely foreclosed because those are “final-status issues” [for Israel-Palestinian peace negotiations] is, to be polite, unpersuasive. Suppose there is, eventually, a negotiation that places Ariel in the new state of Palestine (an unrealistic notion to be sure, indeed an impossible one, but play along). How does it harm Palestinians and their new state that there have been and are great research projects underway at that university? Or is it that the Biden administration thinks the existence of such projects makes it less likely that in a negotiation, Israel would be willing to give up the city of Ariel and Ariel University?

Such a position is not mandatory nor is it sensible, so the decision on research grants is something else. It seems like a gratuitous swipe at Israel, or perhaps more accurately Israel’s government—like the refusal to invite Israel’s prime minister to visit the White House. None of these moves helps achieve the administration’s apparent goals. For that at least, I suppose many Israelis will be grateful.

Read more at Pressure Points

More about: Academic Boycotts, Joseph Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship, West Bank

An Israeli Buffer Zone in the Gaza Strip Doesn’t Violate International Law

 The IDF announced on Thursday that it is safe for residents to return to some of the towns and villages near the Gaza Strip that have been abandoned since October 7. Yet on the same day, rocket sirens sounded in one of those communities, Kibbutz Mefalsim. To help ensure security in the area, Israel is considering the creation of a buffer zone within the Strip that would be closed to Palestinian civilians and buildings. The U.S. has indicated, however, that it would not look favorably on such a step.

Avraham Shalev explains why it’s necessary:

The creation of a security buffer along the Gaza-Israel border serves the purpose of destroying Hamas’s infrastructure and eliminating the threat to Israel. . . . Some Palestinian structures are practically on the border, and only several hundred yards away from Israeli communities such as Kfar Aza, Kerem Shalom, and Sderot. The Palestinian terrorists that carried out the murderous October 7 attacks crossed into Israel from many of these border-adjacent areas. Hamas officials have already vowed that “we will do this again and again. The al-Aqsa Flood [the October 7th massacre] is just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth.”

In 2018 and 2019, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad organized mass marches towards the Israeli border with the goal of breaking into Israel. Billed by Palestinians as “the Great March of Return,” its name reveals its purpose—invasion. Although the marches were supposedly non-violent, they featured largescale attacks on Israeli forces as well as arson and damage to Israeli agriculture and civilian communities. Moreover, the October 7 massacre was made possible by Hamas’s prepositioning military hardware along the border under false cover of civilian activity. The security perimeter is intended to prevent a reprise of these events.

Shalev goes on to dismantle the arguments put forth about why international law prohibits Israel from creating the buffer zone. He notes:

By way of comparison, following the defeat of Nazi Germany, France occupied the Saar [River Valley] directly until 1947 and then indirectly until reintegration with Germany in 1957, and the Allied occupation of Berlin continued until the reunification of Germany in 1990. The Allies maintained their occupation long after the fall of the Nazi regime, due to the threat of Soviet invasion and conquest of West Berlin, and by extension Western Europe.

Read more at Kohelet

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, International Law, Israeli Security