This op-ed originally appeared in The Jewish Week

AJC and Cornell Tech

Photo of Cornell Tech campus

One of the most exciting developments in recent memory has been the opening, on New York’s Roosevelt Island, of the first phase of Cornell Tech, a cutting-edge partnership between Cornell University and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology (“‘Start-Up Nation’ Ethos Infuses Cornell Tech’s New Digs,” Sept. 22).

Not only does the campus enhance the New York skyline, but, as envisioned by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, it will contribute significantly to the marriage of higher education and high-tech in the city – and well beyond. What a boon for the Big Apple, and what an opportunity to showcase Israeli know-how! We are proud to have been there at the very beginning of this story.

In 2010, AJC’s Project Interchange, which has been bringing American and world leaders to Israel since 1982, organized a seminar for university presidents, including Dr. David Skorton of Cornell. In the course of the visit, the group of educators met with their Israeli counterparts, among them Dr. Peretz Lavie, the head of Technion in Haifa.

Drs. Skorton and Lavie hit it off and the rest, as they say, is history. Thus, even though Dr. Skorton has moved on from Cornell to lead the Smithsonian Institution, his name should always be associated with this project. In the span of 35 years, AJC’s Project Interchange has brought almost 6,000 university presidents, parliamentarians, diplomats, journalists, and civic leaders to Israel to see the Jewish state for themselves.

According to an evaluation conducted by the Aspen Institute, more than 90 percent of participants subsequently take action to develop ties with Israel. Cornell Tech is a great example, as is, I would add, the Advanced Technologies Park in Beersheva, Israel, abutting Ben-Gurion University, which was also the result of one of our seminars. Both projects entail multi-billion-dollar investments, and represent major contributions to advancing research and development for the benefit of so many in the United States, Israel, and around the world.

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