A glance inside will explain what Israel’s universities have contributed to human progress.The decision by a British academics’ union to urge its members to boycott their Israeli counterparts has generated outrage and concern among academics and supporters of Israel. The stunningly illogical decision to shun Israeli academic institutions threatens some of the organizations most involved in promoting peace and human rights in Gaza and the West Bank and could impede progress Israeli universities enable in scores of fields.
As a service to those who want to argue Israel’s case in this matter, ISRAEL21c has created this special document with facts and figures, and links to stories and reports that will help anyone show how valuable Israel’s academics and universities are to the world. We hope you will find it useful in supporting your argument that academics, people who care about peace, and people who care about progress, should all fight the boycott and the viral impact it might have.
Please, take this information and inform your friends, organizations, local academic institutions, media and other interested parties about the value Israel’s academics add to the world everyday.
One need only glance at the following achievements to understand what Israel’s universities have contributed to human progress and peace.
** A revolutionary drug developed by researchers at Bar-Ilan University holds out hope for tens of millions of people around the world who suffer from schizophrenia. Researchers from Tel Aviv University have also invented a drug candidate which holds out promise in this field.
** An award-winning scientist at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev developed a biological control for mosquitoes and black flies that cause malaria and river blindness, saving the sight and lives of millions of people in Africa and China.
** Scientists at Hebrew University of Jerusalem have developed the FDA-approved drug Exelon for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and are now working on a new anti-Alzheimer’s drug also suitable for treating strokes and traumatic brain injuries.
** Velcade, an effective new cancer drug that treats multiple myeloma, is based on research by two Technion-Israel Institute of Technology professors. The pair won the 2004 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for their groundbreaking work.
** Scientists at Tel Aviv University developed BioPetroClean, a safe environmentally-friendly technology for cleaning oil spills in seas around the globe.
** University of Haifa researchers working as part of an international cooperative team, identified the gene capable of increasing the protein content of wheat – a giant step towards combating world hunger.
** Research by a professor at the Weizmann Institute has led to the development of promising new therapies for acute spinal cord injuries. The late actor Christopher Reeve described Israel as the ‘world-center’ for research on paralysis treatment. Proneuron Biotechnologies, the company founded to commercialize this research is also developing a therapy for Parkinson’s with support from the Michael J. Fox Foundation.
** A team from the Weizmann Institute has demonstrated for the first time how tissues transplanted from pig embryos might, in the future, be able to induce the human body to produce blood-clotting proteins for hemophilia patients.
** An Israeli scientific team from the Technion has succeeded in creating in the laboratory beating heart tissue from human embryonic stem cells.
** Researchers at the Hebrew University and the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge have isolated the protein that triggers stress in order to try to treat post-traumatic stress syndrome.
** A team of Jewish and Arab Israeli genetic researchers from Ben-Gurion University and Soroka Medical Center has identified a genetic defect that causes a severe neurodegenerative disease in Bedouin children, resulting in premature death.
** A researcher at Ben Gurion University has succeeded in creating human monoclonal antibodies which can neutralize the highly contagious small-pox virus without inducing the dangerous side effects of the existing vaccine.
** A Hebrew University doctoral student has developed an innovative drug that gives people the feeling of satiety, an important development in treatment of the obese.
The achievements do not stop there. Israel is the 100th smallest country in the world, but many of the world’s best technologies were invented here, much of the groundwork laid by whiz-kids from Israel’s universities.
** The Pentium MMX Chip was designed at Intel in Israel. Both the Pentium 4 microprocessor and the Centrum processor were designed, developed and produced in Israel, as was voice mail.
** Most of Windows operating systems were developed by Microsoft-Israel, as was voice mail technology.
** Both Microsoft and Cisco built their only R&D facilities outside the US in Israel, attracted by the high quality of engineers.
** Much of the world’s security in the fields of computers, banking, and homeland security rests on Israeli inventiveness – a necessary by-product of the years spent defending the country from terrorism and war. An Israeli company, for example, is now working on software that would prevent the kind of repeat bombings seen on the London Underground. The company wishes to complete its research in the UK, but will be unable to because of the boycott.
Israel’s universities are worldwide centers of excellence with students from all over the globe – Arab, Jewish, and Christian alike. There are no ethnic or religious qualifications for entry, and the universities are not controlled by the government.
A recent survey by the Milken Institute showed that of over 400 universities examined worldwide, Hebrew University (HU) and Tel Aviv University (TAU) were ranked 12th and 21st respectively for registering biotech patents. Only one British establishment, London University, could beat those placings. The Weizmann Institute of Science, one of the most important research centers in the world for brain studies, was voted the best university in the world for life scientists to conduct research.
Israel has the highest ratio of university degrees to the population in the world. Twenty-four percent of the workforce holds university degrees, ranking third in the industrialized world, after the US and Holland; and 12 percent hold advanced degrees. As a result, Israel leads the world in the number of scientists and technicians in the workforce – 145 per 10,000, compared to 85 in the US, 70 in Japan, and less than 60 in Germany. Israel also produces more scientific papers per capita than any other nation, 109 per 10,000 people, as well as one of the highest per capita rates of patents filed.
In proportion to its population, Israel has the largest number of startup companies in the world (3,500, mostly in high tech). In absolute terms, Israel has the largest number of startup companies than any other country, except the US. Israel also has the highest concentration of high-tech companies outside of Silicon Valley, and is ranked number two in the world for venture capital funding, behind the US.
Israel’s universities are at the forefront of work with Arabs and Palestinians to try to improve their quality of life and education. They are a main forum for liberal discussion between Jews and Arabs. Arab students and Palestinians study at most of the institutions. At the University of Haifa, for example, 20 percent of undergraduates are Arab Israelis.
Haifa University has a Jewish-Arab Center which advances dialogue on Arab-Jewish coexistence. It also runs an Arab Student Leadership Program, and researchers at the university work jointly with Al-Quds University in east Jerusalem, to develop and implement diagnostic and prognostic tests for learning disabilities in Palestinian and Israeli youth.
Hebrew University, which was targeted in a terror attack that killed both Jews and Arabs, was co-founded by Albert Einstein. It has always espoused the values of pluralism and tolerance and has a large number of Arab-Israeli programs, including training courses for dentists from the PA and Middle East countries, and a variety of joint Israeli-Palestinian research projects.
The university’s first international symposium was jointly organized by the dental schools of the Hebrew University and Al-Quds University in November last year despite political tension. The Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine has 35 graduates from Gaza and the West Bank. Some of the school’s graduates founded the School of Public Health at Al Quds University and continue to teach there. The school has a trilateral agreement with Al Quds and a US university for research, training and development of public health programs and a trilateral workshop on development of software for smoking cessation programs is planned.
In October last year, the rectors of HU, TAU, the University of Haifa, Ben Gurion University, the Weizmann Institute, and the Technion wrote a letter to Israel’s Minister of Defense to cancel a ban imposed by the IDF on Palestinian students entering Israel to study.
Israel’s universities are a breeding ground for innovation, excellence and liberal dialogue. They make a massive contribution to the world in science, medicine, environment, communications and security. Israel may be a tiny country, but it is making one of the greatest contributions of any country on the planet, improving and transforming the lives of millions.
Israel’s researchers do not deserve to be shunned, and the world should not risk losing their research.
In the words of Dr. Sari Nusseibah, president of the Palestinian Al-Quds University: “The free flow of science and information… constitutes a powerful force against war… Of all possible bridges to burn as a form of ‘well-intentioned’ political pressure, the boycott of academic cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians should be excluded…”