The Israeli international scientific collaboration with American institutions seems immune from the boycott and divestment efforts being chronicled by Professor Jacobson.

Elizabeth Redden of Inside Higher Ed files this report.

When the physicist Stephen Hawking cited the academic boycott as his reason for canceling a trip to a conference in Israel last spring, an op-ed in The Guardian argued that the famous scientist’s public stand “hits Israel where it hurts: science.”

“[W]hat winds Israel up is the fact that this rejection is by a famous scientist and that science and technology drive its economy,” wrote Hilary and Steven Rose, co-founders of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine. “Hawking’s decision threatens to open a floodgate with more and more scientists coming to regard Israel as a pariah state.”

So far it’s been more of a trickle than a flood. In the U.S., the academic boycott movement, which is aimed at pressuring Israel to change its policies vis-à-vis the occupation of the Palestinian territories, has achieved some symbolically significant victories in the past year. Both the Association for Asian American Studies and the American Studies Association backed the boycott against Israeli universities, followed by the leadership council of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association. In science, however, the boycott movement has so far made comparatively few inroads.

“For us, it’s meaningless,” said Yair Rotstein, the executive director of the United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF), which was established in 1972 with an endowment funded by both countries. The boycott, he said, is something blown up in the media: for all practical purposes, “there really is no boycott.” Rotstein said that of about 7,000 requests to prospective external reviewers it sends each year, the foundation gets just one response on average from a scientist declining for political reasons.

Meanwhile, the BSF grants about $16 million in awards each year to American and Israeli scientists working on joint projects, having funded over the years, according to Rotstein, 42 Nobel Laureates. And since 2012, the BSF has partnered with the National Science Foundation to support collaborative research in biology, chemistry, computational neuroscience and computer science (The BSF gets an additional $3 million a year from the Israeli government to support these joint BSF-NSF projects.)

“The relations are widening,” Rotstein said.

“What’s happened in the last 10, 15, 20 years is that Israeli science has really come into its own,” said Al Teich, a research professor of science, technology, and international affairs at George Washington University. Teich is also the former director of science and policy programs at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and a member of BSF’s board.