Sen. Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-Louisiana) visited the University of Haifa this week as the northern Israeli academic institution celebrated its 50th anniversary, and received a firsthand look at the University’s programs through the lens of his efforts to strengthen US-Israel relations.
In addition to addressing the University’s 50th annual Board of Governors meeting on Sunday, where he helped inaugurate the new Bloom School of Graduate Studies, Sen. Cassidy toured the Haifa Research Center for Maritime Policy & Strategy (HMS), which fosters US-Israel cooperation in areas such as maritime security, intelligence-sharing, military R&D, and security diplomacy, as well as the Leon H. Charney School of Marine Sciences, which pioneers an interdisciplinary approach which has transformed the study of marine sciences in Israel and the Middle East.
“The special relationship between the United States and Israel is ever-present in my work as a senator,” said Sen. Cassidy. “Examples include sharing lessons learned from the COVID pandemic, collaboration on national security measures, or joint involvement in missile defense systems. Beyond this are the cultural ties which bind us even more.”
The Louisiana Senator arrived in Israel on Friday and proceeded to meet with prominent members of the University of Haifa’s faculty and leadership. From snorkeling off the coast of Caesarea with Dr. Beverly Goodman-Tchernov, who heads the school’s Dr. Moses Strauss Department of Marine Geosciences and has earned the prestigious National Geographic Explorer designation for her research on environmental changes; to touring the Bah??? Gardens; to attending the 9th Haifa Conference on Marine Sciences, Sen. Cassidy was exposed to the unique attributes of northern Israel and the University which serves as an engine for socio-economic development in that region.
Sen. Cassidy held meetings with former Shin Bet leader Admiral (Res.) Amichay (Ami) Ayalon as well as Prof. Benjamin Miller and Dr. Dan Schueftan, the Head and Director of the University’s National Security Studies Center, respectively, who each briefed him on geopolitical and security issues. The briefings came as Sen. Cassidy is seeking information regarding the next steps in US policy toward Hezbollah, particularly regarding the Lebanese group’s activities as an Iranian proxy that carries out terrorism, money-laundering, and human trafficking operations.
Meanwhile, Sen. Cassidy’s address at the inauguration of the Bloom School of Graduate Studies followed the University’s recent launch of that initiative, which establishes a pioneering new academic structure acknowledging that no single discipline alone can resolve the entangled issues of contemporary society. Sen. Cassidy praised the future Bloom school alumni — Ph.D. and postdoctoral students who will leverage their technology prowess and diverse backgrounds to address pressing issues such as climate change, disease control, and global inequality.
The exclusive Bloom Fellows Program will provide 24 doctoral candidates and 20 postdoctoral fellows with the resources, training, and opportunities they need to secure faculty positions or prestigious postdoctoral fellowships in Israel and abroad.
“The most difficult problems that society faces require novel and innovative solutions,” said Sen. Cassidy. “This does not just happen. The Bloom Institute at the University of Haifa will cultivate the interdisciplinary mindset and collaboration to find these solutions.”
During his two-day trip to Israel, Sen. Cassidy also met with Kenny Broad, Ph.D., Environmental Anthropologist and Professor at the University of Miami; and Rear Admiral (Ret.) Dr. Israel Leshem, an adviser at the University of Haifa’s HMS; and Amy Clement, Ph.D., of the Department of the Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.
“We are humbled that Sen. Cassidy chose the University of Haifa as a platform for exploring new frontiers for strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship,” said Bradley M. Bloom, Chair of the University’s Board of Governors and the philanthropic supporter of the Bloom School of Graduate Studies. “Indeed, the Senator’s choice is no coincidence. The University’s cutting-edge academic programs and research, particularly in the realm of maritime policy and strategy, offer vast opportunities for cultivating more robust and multifaceted American-Israeli ties in the years to come. We deeply thank Sen. Cassidy for taking the time to learn about the University of Haifa, and we look forward to witnessing the impact of his visit play out in Washington.”
Sen. Cassidy’s visit builds on the existing collaboration between the University and the State of Louisiana. In 2019, the University of Haifa and Louisiana State University (LSU) signed a memorandum of understanding to partner in the areas of marine science and military training. University of Haifa President Prof. Ron Robin visited LSU in March 2022 to follow up on the partnership. During the visit, LSU expressed interest in teaming with the University of Haifa to advance the fight against climate change as well as to expand its collaboration with the Israeli university’s military, leadership, and cybersecurity programs.