Universities in Canada and Israel on Tuesday announced an agreement to increase international research collaboration, Canada’s Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs said in a statement.
The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, which represents 97 Canadian universities and colleges, and the Association of University Heads of Israel agreed to “work together in order to facilitate, promote and support international research collaboration between Israeli and Canadian universities,” representing an important escalation of already burgeoning Canada-Israel academic ties.
Canada, through Prime Minister Stephen Harper, has been one of Israel’s leading international supporters. The agreement comes as anti Israel BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) activists pressure international universities against reaching similar collaboration agreements with Israeli schools in order to isolate the country’s academics.
The signing ceremony took place during a mission to Israel co-hosted by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs. The delegation was made up of Canadian university presidents, including from Simon Fraser University, University of Calgary, University of Saskatchewan, Queen’s University, Concordia University, and St. Francis Xavier University.
CIJA said: “For years, the Center has worked to identify and foster natural partnerships between Canadian universities and their Israeli counterparts. In particular, this work has involved regular missions to Israel of university officials, faculty, and student leaders, enabling Canada’s top academics to connect with world-class Israeli institutions, including Hebrew University, the Technion, the Weizmann Institute, and Tel Aviv University – to name just a few. We are proud to have partnered in this effort with Ambassador Miriam Ziv, who has made a priority of deepening bilateral relations in the fields of education and scientific research.”
The CJIA added: “Just as it is important to fight anti-Israel rhetoric where it manifests itself, it is critical that we share with our fellow Canadians the story of Israel as the world’s Start Up Nation.”
AUCC Vice-President Christine Tausig Ford said: “Canada and Israel share a common commitment to educational attainment and research excellence, and are among the best in the world in these important indicators of global leadership. Increased collaboration with universities in Israel will strengthen the research and teaching missions of Canada’s universities and benefit both countries’ economies.”
The CJIA concluded: “today’s agreement not only lays the foundation for further collaboration that will yield mutual academic and economic benefits. It emphatically underscores the values Canada and Israel share as fellow democracies committed to high-quality education, open markets, and – above all – freedom. As Jewish and pro-Israel Canadians, today’s announcement is very much worthy of celebration.”