The Yehuda and Shomron has once again become the contentious topic of the day, with a terrorist attack and unwarranted Jewish vigilante reactions. Recently, the Biden Administration’s resumption of the research boycott of Judea and Samaria, an Obama-era policy, became apparent when an Ariel University grant request for funds for a research, development, and scientific project beyond the Green Line was denied.
“Participation in joint projects with Israel in the fields of science and technology in areas that came under its control after June 5, 1967 and whose future should be determined through negotiations on a permanent settlement, is not consistent with American policy.” This was the first request of its type made during the current U.S. Administration and reflects a policy announced by the U.S. State Department when Biden assumed the presidency. On October 28, 2020, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman at Ariel University in Samaria signed US-Israel Science and Technology Agreement, a bilateral extension of the Israel-U.S. scientific cooperation agreement removing geographic restrictions from Judea and Samaria, and the Golan Heights for financing research and development and scientific cooperation projects, a move that further legitimized Israeli settlement in the West Bank. The original three U.S.-Israel agreements on science, technology and agriculture signed in the 1970›s excluded land that came under Israeli control in 1967.
At the time, Netanyahu said, “When President Trump recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, the same naysayers said that this too would destroy the chances of peace. When the president declared that our Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are not illegal under international law, a theme advanced by, an observation and a decision advanced by Secretary Pompeo, once again the naysayers claimed that this would destroy the chances of peace.” Adding, “By rejecting the failed mantras of the past, the Trump plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace not only offers possibilities for realistic and secure solution, for the Palestinians ever come around to changing, to abandoning their absurd demands that would mean the end of Israel, but I think the Trump vision also put forward something else that we see today. It opens Judea and Samaria to academic, commercial and scientific engagement with the United States. This is an important victory against all those who seek to delegitimize everything Israeli beyond the 1967 lines.” But recently, the Biden Administration reversed course, stating, “The United States strongly values scientific and technological cooperation with Israel, and robust scientific and technological cooperation with Israel continues. The State Department recently circulated foreign policy guidance to relevant agencies in the United States government, advising that engaging in bilateral scientific and technological cooperation with Israel in geographic areas which came under the administration of Israel after 1967 and which remain subject to final-status negotiations is inconsistent with U.S. foreign policy,” adding, “This is reflective of the longstanding U.S. position, going back decades—reaffirmed by this administration—that the ultimate disposition of the geographic areas which came under the administration of Israel after 1967 is a final-status matter. Essentially, we are reverting to U.S. policy, to longstanding pre-2020 geographic limitations on U.S. support for activities in those areas, a policy that goes back decades.” Netanyahu has expressed how the Trump Administration’s recognition allowed for the Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation (BIRD), the U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF) and the U.S.-Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development Foundation (BARD) research projects.
The agreement had allowed university researchers to work with U.S. NGOs and submit requests for joint research grants between the two countries, something that is not permitted with European counterparts. Also, students and postdoctoral individuals returning from overseas had a hard time keeping their research relationships with their peers in the U.S.
Ambassador Friedman often spoke of the tremendous regional progress from the Abraham Accords between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco, and how robust bilateral cooperation with Israel rose from his efforts. But, more recently, Friedman has spoken out against the Biden Administration, saying, “Make no mistake. The United States, by this action, is embracing the BDS movement, violating a binding bilateral agreement with Israel” with regard to Washington’s decision to freeze scientific cooperation with organizations over the 1949 armistice Green Line, i.e., in Judea, Samaria, the Golan Heights and parts of Jerusalem, “creating a lose/lose dynamic whereby the people of the region—Israelis and Palestinians—will lose the most.” For the layman, this means that institutions like Ariel University no longer have the right to compete against every other university and research center in the world, and their scientists and researchers do not have a fair stand. Previously, Ariel University, with its prized medical and engineering schools, received three major research grants, overcoming political limitations on research to benefit society with vaccines to aid world health, and fixes to obtain fresh clean water to help global safety. People like Friedman want to rid the world of the anti-Semitic and BDS mentality in the State Department and in the Administration and allow cooperation, joint projects, and peace to reign because the alternatives are truly horrific and both morally and academically warped, especially when the State Department chose to make the announcement on the same week four Jews were murdered by Arab terrorists in this region. Even Texas Senator Ted Cruz called out the Biden team’s decision as “such anti-Semitic discrimination by the U.S. government.”
Gilda Erdan, Israel’s envoy to the UN, stated that building in Judea and Samaria will continue, as Israel is poised to build 5,700 Judea and Samaria homes.
By Shabsie Saphirstein
At the Ateret Cohanim dinner, Amb. Friedman delivered the following two anecdotes. The Queens Jewish Link shares these thoughts in recognition of the ambassador’s stances, and of the organization’s determination to expand the Jewish presence in Yerushalayim:
“My State Department never referred to Jerusalem as anything other than the eternal, undivided capital of the Jewish people. And I hope that we return to that way. The State Department had referred to East Jerusalem along with the rest of Judea and Samaria as occupied territory, we not only got rid of that term ‘occupied territory,’ but went a little crazy called El Al and told them that on the bathrooms they should just say, ‘in use’ rather than ‘occupied.’ We didn’t like the word at all.
An Arab American/Palestinian American brokered a deal, a sale of a house from an Arab to a Jew in Jerusalem under the Palestinian Authority (the moderate ones who have a law that such a transaction is punishable by death). This poor guy was taken out of his house in the middle of the night - his wife, two young daughters, are screaming and he’s taken to a place that nobody knows. Matityahu HaChohen Dan, Chairman of Ateret Cohanim comes to me and says, knowing that this man is an American citizen, “What do we do now?” We had some ability to really get involved and have some jurisdiction. Originally, his wife was very reluctant to have us get involved. She thought the more we made a big deal about it, the longer Palestinian leadership would not give in and not let him go. And so it went a few months until she came in one day and said, “You know, he is really in bad shape.” She went to see him and he had broken bones and could barely see, as they were shining bright lights in his eyes for hours at a time. She said, ‘He is a mess and look, I give up. You know we have to get him out.’ So, I went to the defense attaché at the embassy, the man at the head of the military, and I said to him, ‘Pull up your contacts in Ramallah, and tell them that if they don’t let this guy out within the next six hours, the United States is going to come in and storm the jail and take this guy out and and kill everybody on site.’ He said to me, ‘I can’t do that.’ And I said, ‘Why not?’ He explained, ‘I can’t do it. I’m, you know, a soldier. I take orders. You can’t give me an order like that. It has to go up a much higher chain.’ So I said, ‘Alright. Get me on the phone with the people and make sure they have the translator, because I don’t speak Arabic.’ He arranged the call and I spoke to them and I said, ‘Look, this is Ambassador Friedman. I don’t want to get you unnecessarily upset, but I’m telling you right now, the United States Army is coming in six hours. We’re going to take over your property, we’re going to kill everybody inside unless you let this guy out in the next four hours.’ Sure enough, he was at the David Citadel within the next few hours. I suppose one day I’ll get in trouble for that, but so far, so good.”
Shani Hikind presented the tribute:
“Rabbi Shimon said, ‘There are three crowns: The crown of Torah, of priesthood, and of kingship. But the crown of a good name surpasses them all.’ Honorable Ambassador David Melech and Tammy Friedman, keynote speaker: We proudly pay tribute to an outstanding couple who exemplify love of Eretz Yisrael, Am Yisrael, and Torat Yisrael. Presented with heartfelt gratitude and recognition of your exemplary leadership, paving the way for the establishment of Jerusalem as the eternal capital of our beloved Medinat Yisrael. Together you have brought to life the three crowns of Rabbi Shimon, and your crown of a good name indeed surpasses them all, for you both have been a true kiddush Hashem.”