CJN News Story: "Help Hebrew U Stem Israeli Brain Drain" MK Urges

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CJN News Story - Help Hebrew U stem Israeli brain drain, MK urges

Danny DanonTORONTO — Likud MK Danny Danon was recently in Toronto to garner support for Hebrew University’s Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada (IMRIC), which he hopes will help “keep the brilliant people in Israel.”

In May 2008, Canadian Friends of Hebrew University (CFHU), a non-profit organization that promotes and raises funds for Hebrew U, pledged to raise $50 million over eight years to support IMRIC.

The institute, housed in a new building on the Ein Kerem medical campus, is meant to encourage interdisciplinary partnerships – in some cases, between Israelis and Canadians – to help scientists better understand how to prevent and fight diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Danon, a Hebrew U alumnus – he obtained a master’s degree in public policy and administration – spent two days in Toronto meeting with CFHU donors and said he hopes to attract others to the cause to help keep “the brains in Israel by giving incentives to professors and researchers.”

He said he was happy to offer his support to an institution that is investing in keeping Israel’s brightest in Israel so that it won’t cost more later on to lure them back from abroad.

“Today, with globalization, it is very easy to find a research position elsewhere. I think that by keeping them in Israel with their families, in the future those people will win Nobel Prize awards and they will be developing for the army, for security, for health, and that is the most important value,” Danon said.

“Otherwise, we will pay much more for technology in the future.”

He said although the Israeli government funds the university, “in terms of building the infrastructure, we need the support of friends and allies around the world.”

Danon said IMRIC provides, new, better and roomier labs and more research opportunities that will help Israel keep its most promising students. 

“If they have the possibility to do the research and advance their studies and professions [in Israel], they prefer to stay in Israel. But the minute they go to the U.S. or Canada, it is very hard to bring them back because they make connections, professional connections and family connections.”

Before Danon entered politics, he served the Jewish Agency as a shaliach in Florida from 1994 to 1996, where he encouraged Jews to stand up against anti-Israel propaganda.

Danon, a Likudnik who said he is more right-wing than Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, promotes the ideas, among others, that a strong Israel depends on ceasing talks to establish a Palestinian state and that Israel should declare its right to exist within its current borders, with no further surrender of territory.

He said he is no longer involved with the Jewish Agency, but he continues to “promote Zionist issues as a member of Knesset.”

Danon, who called himself a “strong advocate of hasbara and PR,” said that those who support Israel and its institutions should “know the facts and not be shy.

“I see a lot of students or people who know the facts, who know that we are right but are shy to speak out. I am an activist myself who grew up in the Betarist movement. I was a shaliach in Florida and I met a lot of students and I heard the stories from here about York University… I would recommend that when we see someone crossing the line, we should speak out and be aggressive and not just hope that it will go away.”

Danon said he hopes that people will take notice that a politician with his ideologies is advocating for a university. 

He said universities usually represent a more liberal, left-wing point of view, but he hopes his promotion of Hebrew U will show the importance of the institution to right-wing supporters as well.

“I think that fact that I come from Likud, with a very strong ideology concerning the issues of Middle East peace talks and other relevant issues, coming and asking people to endorse the university, I think is important.”

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CFHU is dedicated to supporting IMRIC through direct funding and by developing key collaborative medical research partnerships between Canada
and Israel.


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