Britain-Israel Research and Academic Exchange Partnership

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The Britain-Israel Research and Academic Exchange Partnership (BIRAX) facilitates academic collaboration between Israel and the UK.


BIRAX was set up in 2008 with the financial support of the British Council in Israel, the Pears Foundation and an early donation of £200,000 from the United Jewish Israel Appeal. Pears described the project as 'a major initiative launched by the Prime Ministers of both countries'.[1].

While on a visit to Israel, then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown signed an agreement with then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to set up the partnership.[2]

Anti-BDS goal

According to Professor David Newman of Ben Gurion University, who was involved in planning the program, it 'has a great deal to do with the boycott' movement against Israel and countering BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions):

'Because of the ongoing discussion of boycotts the British government decided that the most appropriate response was to strengthen research ties'.[2]


Mike Cushman of the London School of Economics argued that universities should avoid the scheme, saying:

'Much of the finance for these partnerships is clearly coming from parts of the private and voluntary sectors that are allied to Israel ... We are urging our colleagues not to touch any of this funding with a bargepole. It is blood money and they should recognise it as such'.[3]

Further projects

The UK-Israel Life Sciences Council, a British government-sponsored endeavour also set up to encourage UK-Israel research collaborations in response to the proposed academic and cultural boycott of Israel, announced was in 2010 on a visit to Israel by then Foreign Secretary William Hague. Also supported by the Pears Foundation and the Zabludowicz Trust, it was described as 'an ambitious expansion of the BIRAX scheme' and the British ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould, who chaired the first meeting state that the council was an expression of the British government's 'opposition to boycotts of Israel'.[4]


  1. Israel as a Global Citizen, Pears Foundation, accessed 13 April 2015
  2. 2.0 2.1 Waldoks, E.Z. (2008), Olmert Brown launch new academic exchange program, The Jerusalem Post, 21-July-2008
  3. Corbyn, Z. (2008), Research intelligence - Promised land proffers cash, Times Higher Education Supplement, 31-July-2008
  4. Ben Gurion University New UK-Israel Council to Forge Strong Ties in Life Sciences 26 January 2011.