Sealing another important bond between Israel and the US

“The friendship between our two countries is deep and long-lasting. Israel and the US are at the forefront of scientific research. Our joint efforts will bring incredible discoveries," Rivlin said.

April 8, 2019 10:47
2 minute read.
Nili Cohen (left) with President Rivlin

Nili Cohen (left) with President Rivlin. (photo credit: AMOS BEN GERSHOM, GPO)


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The long-standing alliance between the United States and Israel keeps getting stronger. On Sunday, the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities and the American National Academy of Sciences and Humanities signed a cooperation agreement at the President’s Residence.

President Reuven Rivlin entered the reception hall flanked by Prof. Nili Cohen, the president of the Israel Academy, and Prof. Marcia McNutt, her American peer. The two academics are old friends, having met when each delivered an address at the French Academy of Sciences.

Cohen listed those who facilitated the cooperation – first the Blavatnik Family Foundation which over the past decade has contributed more than $700 million to more than 250 educational organizations in Israel, the US and elsewhere.

Guests included Alex Blavatnik, the brother of Sir Leonard Blavatnik, a British-American businessman and philanthropist. The Ukraine-born Sir Leonard, who studied at Columbia University and Harvard Business School, takes a particular interest in the annual Blavatnik Awards for promising Israeli scientists.

The 2019 honorees included Dr. Michal Rivlin and Dr. Erez Berg, both of the Weizmann Institute of Science, and Dr. Moran Bercovici of the Technion.

In their addresses, Cohen and McNutt both wished the president’s wife, Nechama Rivlin, a speedy recovery after undergoing a lung transplant. Cohen described the gathering as “historic.” She and McNutt both hailed the formalizing of cooperative relations between the two academies and between the scientific communities of their respective countries.

The agreement stipulates that two annual scientific conferences be held – one in Israel and one in the US – to be attended by eminent scientists in various fields from both countries.

The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities has similar agreements with counterparts in more than 40 countries.

The Academy is housed next to the President’s Residence in Talbieh but also has historic proximity. Cohen noted Israel’s first and fourth presidents, Chaim Weizmann and Ephraim Katzir, were both scientists. She mentioned that President Rivlin’s father had been a professor at the Hebrew University. This gave Rivlin the opportunity to quip his father had also been nominated for president, “but he was too busy.” (Yosef Yoel Rivlin had been a candidate to serve as the third president of Israel, but was defeated by Zalman Shazar).

“In a world where we see chasms opening up before our eyes, we have to utilize every opportunity to build another bridge. Scientists all over the world speak the same language and use the same methods to plumb the truth,” McNutt said.

“We want our children to grow in safety,” she said, adding that parents also want education, economic security, prosperity, independence and happiness for their children. “These bridges we are building are more than just science. They enable people in our two nations to get to know each other.”

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