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NEWS

Israeli and Canadian universities agree to collaborate

MOU signed during visit by Canadian university presidents to Israel.

By PEGGY BERKOWITZ | JUL 09 2013
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A delegation of Canadian university presidents is currently visiting Israel to discuss collaboration with Israeli universities.

Canadian universities represented by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada signed an agreement with the Association of University Heads of Israel to facilitate, promote and support research collaboration and exchanges of faculty and students between both countries.

“We have talked about how important collaboration is and have seen how a meeting like this could create links,” said Josef Klafter, president of Tel Aviv University, where the signing ceremony took place. “This should be a catalyst for cooperation between Canadian and Israeli universities.”

Daniel Woolf, principal of Queen’s University, and Elizabeth Cannon, president of the University of Calgary, signed the five-year memorandum of understanding on behalf of the 97 member institutions of AUCC.

A delegation of six Canadian university presidents is currently visiting Israel, co-hosted by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. The four other Canadian presidents are from the universities of Simon Fraser, Saskatchewan, Concordia and St. Francis Xavier.

Canada and Israel already collaborate in a range of sectors including energy, solar power, waste management and medicine, and their universities share research interests in a number of key areas, such as brain research, water technology, renewable energy and biotechnology, noted AUCC.

Christine Tausig Ford, AUCC’s vice-president, said that the Canadian presidents “are making real and long-lasting connections on research and education. We have so much in common, including a commitment to educational attainment and research excellence, and lots to build on.”

On their eight-day mission, which ends July 11, the presidents have met with leading researchers and visited several campuses, including Birzeit University, a Palestinian university near Ramallah.

“One of the great things I’ve picked up from this trip,” said Ilene Busch-Vischniac, president of the University of Saskatchewan, “is that Israel has struck a wonderful balance between a culture that supports entrepreneurialism and a culture that supports basic research.”

David Koschitzky, chair of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, noted that the centre has fostered natural partnerships between Canadian universities and their Israeli counterparts for years, in part by hosting missions of faculty, students and university officials to Israel.

“Just as it is important to fight anti-Israel rhetoric where it manifests itself,” said Mr. Koschitzky, “it is critical that we share with our fellow Canadians the story of Israel as the world’s ‘start-up nation.’ More importantly, we must translate this compelling story into practical, on-the-ground and in-the-lab partnerships between the best minds in Canada and Israel.”

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  1. Irving Rother, PhD / July 10, 2013 at 11:44 am

    Hello,

    Your Canada – Israeli project is an exciting initiative. I spent many months working at Ministries of Education in Jordan and Qatar, volunteered with youth groups in Palestine and was one of four Canadians invited to participate in Democracy, Education, Identity and Conflict at the University of Bethlehem with over 100 Palestinian educators and social activists.

    I ama part-time lecturer at McGill University. I would every much like to be involved in your project.

    I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.

  2. Peter Eglin / July 10, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    The State of Israel, being a pariah among nations for its apartheid wall and its war crimes against, and denial of self-determination and generalized oppression of, the Palestinians, and feeling the heat from the growing, world-wide Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, especially on university campuses, craves just the sort of international legitimacy conferred by prestigious, official, institution-level agreements of this sort. It is one thing for individual Canadian faculty to pursue research collaboration with individual Israeli faculty. It is quite another for the national body representing Canadian universities to strike a formalized, institutional agreement with its Israeli equivalent while hosted by a ministry of the Israeli government. I call on all my Canadian faculty colleagues, our faculty associations and national body (the CAUT) to denounce this academic atrocity and to work to have it rescinded immediately.

  3. Robert Sweeny / July 10, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    For close to a decade, a very broad coalition of civil society organisations, labour unions and educators in Palestine have called for a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions policy to address the extreme human rights abuses that are a part of daily life in the Occupied Territories. The AUCC decision to sign this agreement without first consulting the Canadian academic community through an open and frank exchange of opinions is a highly disturbing instance of uncollegial conduct that is not worthy of the institutions these officers ostensibly represent.

  4. Rob Hiebert, PhD / July 10, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    In my experience, the kind of knee-jerk, anti-Israeli rhetoric generated by some of the respondents to this initiative is typical of many who have never actually spent time in that part of the world and interacted with those on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian situation. As someone who has lived and studied in Jerusalem (both West and East Jerusalem), I applaud the AUCC for this collaborative move which, it seems to me, has the potential to promote understanding and afford benefits to all who live in that region.

  5. nahla abdo / July 14, 2013 at 7:58 pm

    This project of cooperation between Canadian Universities (through their Presidents) and Israeli University comes as a shock not just to me as an academic but also to all of us who seek peace and justice to the Palestinians and an end to Israeli settler colonial policies both in the West Bank as well as in terms of the continued land grab of its own Palestinian citizens.

    I wonder: have my colleagues heard about the Apartheid Wall?

    Have they heard about depopulating Jerusalem from its Palestinian residence by using force?

    Have they heard about special roads for Jews?

    Have they heard about recent laws which openly discriminate against Palestinians on whose lands Israel exist?

    If not, I will be more than glad to supply them with such information.

    And if they do not trust Canadians who are not Jews, I promise to have Canadian Jewish academics in our Universities sending them such information.

    Professor Nahla Abdo

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