Saturday, October 8, 2011

A green light and a red light from Sweden

Observations on Yom Kippur 2011 (3)

This week Professor Dan Shechtman received the phone call which all scientists dream of, a call from Sweden announcing his winning the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. A day of joy and pride for Professor Shechtman and the scientific community in our country and for Israel in general – especially that in recent years the number of Israeli citizens getting Nobel Prizes far exceeds the proportion of Israelis in the world population.

And almost exactly on the same day we also received another message, a less pleasant one, from Sweden, where 218 professors and lecturers signed a petition calling for the severing of all ties with Israeli universities, until the State of Israel ends the occupation and oppression of the Palestinians. Specifically, professors at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm called upon the management of their Institute to cease cooperation with the Technion in Haifa - where Professor Shechtman works - because of the Technion's close relations with the IDF and Israel's defense industries, with some Technion scientists busy developing new weapons systems.

This problem Israeli scientists will not be able to solve, however bright they may be. Ending the occupation and oppression of the Palestinians, which blackens the name of Israel all over the world, is a task resting on the shoulders of the government and the political leadership.