Response to An Israeli Friends Organization: A Best Kept Secret

by Melvyn H. Bloom

I am compelled to respond to “An Israeli Friends Organization: A Best Kept Secret,” (February 16, 2011).

The article describes only a small segment of Israeli Friends organizations, and the generalizations set forth therein by Dr. Donshik define a group that does not include, among others, the American Technion Society (ATS), the largest supporter of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in the world.

Dr. Donshik writes that while friends organizations “… have provided financial support by raising needed funds there have also been many examples of tensions and issues between the Israeli board and the ‘American Friends’ due to cultural differences.”

This is not always the case, and should not be thought of as the norm.

The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, and its “societies,” i.e. the friends organizations around the world that support it, are a model of a cooperative international basis of support. This includes the Technion International Board of Governors, which by the constitution of the university, must be 50% comprised of Technion societies in many countries. Support for the Technion has always come from multiple countries – and almost always without the tensions alluded to by Dr. Donshik. Albert Einstein started the German Technion Society, and then came to the US, where he was instrumental in starting the American Technion Society.

And in contrast to the scenario illustrated by Dr. Donshik, the Technion-ATS connection is a true partnership, because our relationship with our Technion colleagues is one of affinity and effective collaboration. We see ourselves as a team, even a family, working in a common enterprise for a common cause. This synergy greatly advances our work, and in the process, enriches our lives.

Our Technion partners are well aware of our ATS imprint all over campus, from the physical evidence of major buildings, dormitories and laboratories to the stellar faculty whose recruitment we funded and the world-class research that today defines the university. They understand that as funding from the Israeli government shrinks, our support becomes ever more crucial. And like true partners, our voice counts. The faculty and administration set the academic priorities, but we as a team choose programs and priorities to fund. Together, we help shape the Technion and determine its future.

We’re gratified that our work is benefiting Israel and its healthy future in the most direct and efficient way, and in no small measure, helping people around the world.

Melvyn H. Bloom is Executive Vice President of the American Technion Society.