Israeli college in East Jerusalem bags $15 million of EU funds

A right-wing demonstration at the EU-financed Hebrew University of Jerusalem. 

Anne Paq ActiveStills

Almost exactly two years ago, the European Union was accused of causing an “earthquake” in Israel.

The “earthquake” claim was made by an unnamed official who was widely quoted in the press. The official had voiced displeasure at new EU “guidelines” stating that the Union would not award subsidies to Israeli firms or institutions based in the occupied West Bank (including East Jerusalem).

I was skeptical of these guidelines. While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu depicted them as an existential threat to Israel, my feeling was that they did little more than reiterate the EU’s official policies.

Because they did not seem to be accompanied by a proper monitoring system, I also felt that it would be easy for Israeli institutions or companies active in the West Bank to circumvent them.

The latest available data on Horizon 2020, the EU’s scientific research program, proves that my skepticism was well-founded.

After navigating my way through a spreadsheet that was the polar opposite of user-friendly, I calculated that Hebrew University of Jerusalem has been allocated nearly €14 million ($15 million) under the program so far. A significant part of Hebrew University is located in East Jerusalem.

Patronizing

My spreadsheet trawl was prompted by the patronizing reply I received when I complained to the European Commission about how it was continuing to subsidize Hebrew University.

Robert-Jan Smits, head of the Commission’s research department, told me to “rest assured” that projects involving Hebrew University had been subject to an “ethics review procedure.”

Smits explained that Hebrew University is required to make a declaration when applying for EU grants that it will not carry out any of the research in question on land captured by Israel in 1967. “According to our official records and its self-declaration, the place of establishment of Hebrew University of Jerusalem is within the pre-1967 borders,” Smits wrote.

If Smits and his colleagues examined Hebrew University’s own publications, they would find details which contradict that “self-declaration.”

A “students’ guide” published by the university notes that before 1967, Hebrew University’s original Mount Scopus headquarters was “an Israeli enclave in the eastern part of the city, then under Jordanian control.” The booklet adds that “expansion of the campus began” with the “reunification of Jerusalem in 1967.”

Blatant theft

“Reunification” is Israel’s term for its brutal military occupation and annexation of East Jerusalem. The European Union has refused to confer any recognition on that blatant theft of Palestinian territory.

Hebrew University encroached directly into land around Mount Scopus that Israel confiscated from Palestinians in the early stages of the 1967 occupation.

The “self-declaration” to which Smits alluded is, therefore, worthless.

Similarly, it is hard to have any confidence in the “ethics review procedure” on which he instructed me to “rest assured.” A lawyer familiar with this procedure recently told me that it is little more than a “box-ticking” exercise. In most cases, it involves a “screening” of grant applications, rather than a rigorous assessment.

There is no reason to believe that those overseeing this procedure have challenged the veracity of Hebrew University’s “self-declaration.” Israel is taking part in an equal basis to the EU’s own countries in the Union’s research activities.

Hebrew University was the main Israeli beneficiary of the EU’s previous science program between 2007 and 2013.

The EU’s 2013 guidelines have had no effect either on funding for Israel’s weapons industry. More than 70 of the Union’s elected representatives recently called for Elbit Systems, a leading Israeli arms firm, to be excluded from Horizon 2020.

From searching through the EU’s records, I found at least one Horizon 2020 grant already approved for Elbit. It has been given €400,000 ($436,000) to take part in an airport security project.

Stop the Wall, a Palestinian campaign group, has documented how Elbit is known to have made nine applications for funding under the EU’s program, which runs from 2014 until the end of the decade.

Profiting from war crimes

Elbit and Israel Aerospace Industries were the two main suppliers of drones used to attack Palestinians in Gaza during July and August last year.

Despite its profiting from war crimes, IAI has also been awarded at least two Horizon 2020 grants to date. Their combined value comes to more than €2 million ($2.2 million).

Elta Systems, a subsidiary of IAI, is taking part in Horizon 2020, too.

The European Commission is part of a “troika” that is inflicting enormous hardship on Greece. It has refused to respect the clear rejection of the Union’s austerity agenda by Greek voters in both an election and a referendum.

Considering its contempt for democracy within Europe, nobody should be surprised that the Commission is at variance with public opinion on Palestine.

The EU’s citizens have demonstrated their solidarity with the Palestinians by marching against the attacks on Gaza and by refusing to buy Israeli goods. Smits has, instead, actively encouraged Israel to milk the EU’s science program.

During 2014, he told a Horizon 2020 launch event that Israel’s scientific cooperation with the EU has been “a success for both sides.”

Regurgitating Zionist propaganda, he praised Israel as a “start-up nation.”

The 2014 attack on Gaza was a showcase for the “start-up nation.” Cutting-edge drones were tested out in bombing raids against a besieged population.

Those drones were developed by the same arms companies that the EU is happy to subsidize. Until those subsidies stop, it would be foolish to “rest assured” about anything.

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Comments

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As always, a thoroughly researched report from David Cronin. EU collusion with Israel is a constant matter of concern, and exposure is vitally important. Many people retain an unwarranted faith in academic institutions as citadels of learning and high principles. Nothing could be further from the truth, and in the case of Israel, its university system is drenched in blood. The BDS movement is targeting these institutions, and this article reminds us why.

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This report didn't say what the EU funds were being used for. Israel's universities are no more drenched in blood than those of any other country that fights wars.

In every country, the state university system is, to some extent, in the service of the political system that funds and upholds it.

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"In every country, the state university system is, to some extent, in the service of the political system that funds and upholds it."

In which case, we look at the character of that political system and the state of which it is an expression. In this instance we find a regime founded on racist principles, which repudiates international law (the Geneva Conventions, for example) and refuses to adopt a constitution or declare its borders.

There are good reasons why people around the world are joining with Palestinians in support of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.

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As expected Israel uses its terms to further its ideology. The terrorists
are the Israelis. Jeruselum is not to be "unified" (read: annexed)
as Israel is unilaterally claiming in opposition to international
law and even decisions of the US Supreme Court.

That comes under the definition of AGGRESSION
Which continues unabated by Israel. It can only
be justified because Israel---as opposed to others---
claims it is ruled by a higher (divine) law.(Besides
they are so small and helpless etc.)

For an explanation of these concepts see Norman
Finkelstein in 1. THE HOLOCAUST INDUSTRY
(2nd Edition, London, New York, 2003), Ch 1, p.32 ff)
and 2. Norman Finkelstein IMAGE AND REALITY
OF THE ISREAL-PALESTINE CONFLICT (2nd Ed,
London, New York, 2003, Chapter 4).

---Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

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Since it existed pre-67, or even pre 48, how can this be considered occupying anything? false claims hurt the ability to trust a site and should be avoided

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Above all, we must at all times remember what intellectuals habitually forget: that people matter more than concepts and must come first. The worst of all despotisms is the heartless tyranny of ideas.

Paul Johnson

Thank you David Cronin for your talent in exposing the webs of deceit...which by the way continue to pave the way in all aspects in the tyranny of the Occupation of Palestine. BDS the Occupation of illegal state of Israel.

***Despotism: The exorcise of absolute power, especially in a cruel and oppressive way.
despotism
1. a form of government with a ruler having absolute authority; autocracy.
2. a system ruled by a tyrant or dictator having absolute, usually oppressive power. — despot, n. — despotic, adj.
despotism (ˈdɛspəˌtɪzəm)
n
1. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) the rule of a despot; arbitrary, absolute, or tyrannical government
2. arbitrary or tyrannical authority or behaviour

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The EC definition of Ethics is not the same as yours. When they talk about 'ethical assessment', they mean research ethics or scientific ethics in the carrying out of the research. So to argue with them in this way is fruitless. It is not that they have turned a blind eye on this specific occasion. The problem as I see it, is that any company who develop military capabilities, regardless of what they use them for, is eligible for funding from H2020. Another issue is why Israel is eligible for EC funding at all. Other wealthy nations outside of the EU (Canada, USA, Brazil) have to fund themselves.

David Cronin

David Cronin's picture

David Cronin is an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada. His latest book is Corporate Europe: How Big Business Sets Policies on Food, Climate and War (Pluto, 2013). His earlier book is Europe’s Alliance With Israel: Aiding the Occupation (Pluto, 2011).