Op-Ed: How Israeli Higher Education Proves Donald Trump Right About American Universities


As popular support for the Biden administration and the Democratic Party plummets further and further just before the 2022 midterm elections, President Joe Biden rapidly announced a new plan for “debt forgiveness” for student loans.

Presently, many of the details of this plan are hazy at best, including how exactly it will be paid for and the total cost of the program (with most estimates ranging between $300 billion and half a trillion dollars).

Many conservatives are deriding the plan. The former lieutenant governor of New York and economic adviser to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, Betsy McCaughey, described Biden’s plan as a “Hail Mary pass” to buy votes.

And Trump himself weighed in on the matter, calling the student debt cancellation plan “another election enhancing money grab” and stating that Biden and the radical left Democrats are forcing struggling Americans to “bail out college administrators who fleeced students, and those who opted for degrees there was no way they could ever afford.”

As a dual citizen of both the U.S. and Israel who has lived in both countries — and visited many others — I  have the opportunity to look at the issue in a way that is unique for many Americans. And, no surprise, Trump’s concise, scathing comment hits the nail right on the head.

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In the U.S., a bachelor’s degree from a state university for a local student costs around $50,000 or higher, and usually at least $100,000 for out-of-state tuition. Ivy League schools like Harvard and Princeton charge at least $200,000 for an undergraduate degree. These prices are before any kind of grants or scholarships, and they also don’t include books, room and board, etc.

In contrast, a bachelor’s degree from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem — a prestigious college with international recognition — costs less than $10,000 for the entire degree!

And in Israel, very few people pay the full $10,000 for a degree, since most of the population receives various government subsidies, including benefits for compulsory military service or national-level community service as a substitute for the draft.

Accordingly, Israel is deemed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development as one of the most educated nations on earth, ranking sixth in 2022 and third in 2018. In both cases, Israel scored higher than the United States.

Is the American higher education system a ripoff?

Let’s put it into perspective.

My wife and I are dual citizens of the U.S. and Israel who are working to build our family. If we were to have three children, at the present rates we could pay for all of them to each earn a bachelor’s degree for a grand total of less than $30,000 combined — and that’s without anticipated benefits from military service, etc. For that same $30,000, we could only send one of our future children to study for one year at a standard college like Arizona State University with out-of-state tuition costs.

How is it that a small country of 8 million people whose economy is up-and-coming and whose national budget is plagued by enormous defense and security expenditures can manage to provide college degrees to its citizens for a maximum cost of $10,000?

Why is college tuition in America 500 to 2,000 percent higher than in Israel?

Why do American college professors and presidents receive salaries in the range of $300,000 to $400,000 a year (or even higher in some cases)?

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Where is all the money going that is brought in from the highly profitable American college sports industry, complete with merchandise and television deals? Israel has no revenue of any significance from college sports and still manages to keep the prices exponentially lower.

And if universities like Harvard have endowments of over $40 billion, why is the average American taxpayer expected to foot the bill for their outrageously overpriced degrees?

Trump told us exactly why.

Because American universities fleece their students.

Because college degrees in the U.S. are a ripoff enabled by the radical left. And government mandates dumping more and more money into these models will only enable and even encourage the racket rather than drive prices down.

In Israel, we have something called the Council for Higher Education that imposes price caps on annual tuition based on the consumer price index. In other words, universities in Israel don’t charge up to a quarter of a million dollars for a degree because they are prohibited from doing so. Thus, for most Israeli universities, tuition does not exceed $3,300 per year, and most bachelor’s degrees are completed in three years by combining a serious study regimen with strict educational requirements for entry.

Israeli higher education eschews the American model, in which significant time is wasted on a blend of remedial high school-level classes and endless fraternity and sorority parties. Israeli students take the end of high school seriously and undergo any necessary remedial education before enrolling in college.

As many have pointed out, student debt “cancellation” is really the transferring of debt to others who didn’t take out the loan or benefit from the service provided.

Biden’s student debt forgiveness is akin to a person walking into a supermarket and seeing that a gallon of milk costs $20 and a loaf of bread costs $30. Instead of demanding to know why the prices are more than ten times higher than at other grocery stores (or shopping elsewhere), that person now forcibly demands that somebody else — even a random woman outside the store who isn’t even shopping there — turn over her credit card so he can buy his groceries with it.

The above scenario would be defined by most people as a mugging. But in the minds of the radical left, Biden working to mug the American taxpayer is called “student equity,” “reasonable socialism” and even a twisted version of morality.

Israel, on the other hand, has a higher education system in which the prices of university degrees are capped at an affordable rate, and population-wide military drafting or other forms of national service are rewarded in various ways, including with college tuition assistance.

Imagine where we would be in the U.S. if all college degrees were capped at $10,000. What if university students focused on studying rather than partying? And what if nearly all American young people dedicated several years of their life before college to patriotically serving their nation (or at least their communities)?

We would presumably be in a place where the student debt crisis was negligible to non-existent without any need to plunder the American taxpayer.

And after mandatory service to help others for two or three years, many young people in the U.S. would probably have a much different set of values, perspectives and ideology than those tenets of self-gratifying Marxism that radical leftist colleges are ramming down the throats of the next generation of Americans.

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an Op-Ed to The Western Journal, you can learn about our submission guidelines and process here.

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Ben Kerido is an American-Israeli special forces operator and former U.S. Department of Defense contractor focusing on psychological warfare training and now serving in the Israel Defense Force reserves. He and his wife Sarai live in Jerusalem and are writers for Intrepid Tower Publishing and hosts of the "From Israel with Love" podcast. They are also the authors of five books, including "The American Holocaust: Early Tomorrow Morning," an Orwell-style thriller and satirical parody of the American and Middle Eastern political and military arenas.