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.