British Prime Minister David Cameron announced the eight joint British-Israeli medical research projects to receive over £3m in British funding in 2015 via the BIRAX Regenerative Medicine Initiative. Not only are Israeli universities not held accountable for their active role in perpetuating the Israeli occupation, but they become (funded) saviours working to rid the world of the scourge of disease.
Teams at Cambridge, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Nottingham, Manchester and Oxford Universities will receive funding in 2015. Details of their Israeli counterparts were not publicised.
BIRAX (the Britain Israel Research and Academic Exchange Partnership) is a £10 million initiative of the British Council and British Embassy in Israel in collaboration with the Pears Foundation and the UJIA. BIRAX funds “cutting-edge research using stem cell therapies to tackle some of the world’s most dreadful diseases”.
Conducting medical research is ostensibly a noble venture, although here it is used to cover Israeli universities’ complicity and even active collaboration in occupying Palestinian territory and oppressing the Palestinian people. Not only are Israeli universities not held accountable for their role in actively perpetuating the Israeli occupation, but they become (funded) saviours working to rid the world of disease.
In annoucing the selected projects, Cameron stated that “The United Kingdom is proud to be Israel’s partner in science. In so many areas our scientists are working together and engaged in some of the most significant projects of our age.”
British Council Director Alan Gemmell stated that “BIRAX combines the best of what Britain and Israel can offer the world. World-class scientists and world-leading medical research charities are working with us to improve the lives of millions of people.”
The specific role of BIRAX in countering the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel – and in this case against Israeli universities – was acknowledged by Hebrew University President Menachem Ben-Sasson. During a March 2014 visit to Hebrew University, UK Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts, “emphatically denied any boycott of Israeli academia in the UK, and sought to remedy Israeli perceptions of Britain as “an unfriendly or hostile place” to Israel or Israelis”. Ben-Sasson stated that “Through initiatives such as the Britain-Israel Research and Academic Exchange (BIRAX) program, we are continuing to strengthen our ties for the benefit of Britain, Israel and the world.”