Science day for the benefit of IsraelHmm, that's a tough question. For whose benefit is Israel Science Day being done, that of the young scientists or that of Israel? I'm guessing the Zionist Federation is more interested in Israel than it is about young scientists in general.
There's a whiff of hypocrisy about the letter in defence of the Zionist Federation's Israel Science Day, in its claim that science "crosses borders and builds bridges" (5 March). Israeli science and scientists have been recruited to do the reverse: to help close the borders and bomb the bridges, destroying the hopes and prospects of Palestinian education and science.
The leading signatories to the Susan Greenfield letter know full well the extent to which science is intimately locked into British political decision-making, and to assume in the face of all the evidence that Israeli science has no such connections suggests an unaccustomed naivety on their part, a naivety not likely to be shared by the many London school students sickened by the images of the Israeli massacres in Gaza.
The Zionist Federation saw the event as a public relations exercise for Israeli science. Sadly, the more likely outcome is to link science and massacre more firmly in the students' minds. Finally, contrary to the claims of the signatories, the movement of boycott of and divestment from Israel is strong and growing both here and abroad.
Professor Steven Rose
The Zionist Federation, sponsor of Israel Science Day, declares on its website that: "The Zionist Federation aims to encourage the participation of Jews in Zionist activities including education, culture, Hebrew language and Israel information, underpinned by our belief that the main goal of Zionism is Aliyah." Aliyah is a campaign to encourage Jews, wherever resident, to migrate to Israel. The Federation further states that: "Today we promote Israel's case and defend our common future."
The Zionist Federation is a lawful organisation, operating quite openly in the UK. Given its declared aims, however, it is unrealistic to pretend that the Israel Science Day is an altruistic promotion of science, rather than a pro-Israel propaganda exercise.
The attempted academic boycott against individual Israeli scientists was a discriminatory exercise, which made no allowance for the principled stance taken by many Israelis against the excesses of their own government; as such it deserved to fail. It is inappropriate to yoke this together with the present protest against a political entity using a scientific conference as a front to promote the interests of the Israeli state. For whose benefit is this being done, that of the young scientists or that of Israel?
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