AURDIP calls on the French Academy of Science to withdraw from France-Israel Season

Paris, June 13, 2018.

To the Perpetual Secretaries of the Academy of Science
To the President of the Academy of Science
To the Vice-President

On June 19, 2018 the Academy of Science is planning a day-long program, during which Nobel laureates and recipients of the Abel Prize and the Fields Medal will be meeting students in the morning, and presenting their work in the afternoon. An admirable initiative, in principle. However…

However… the program in question is part of the France-Israel Season under the high patronage of French President Emmanuel Macron, and Madame Aliza Bin-Noun, the Israeli Ambassador in France, is planning to deliver an opening statement. Under the circumstances, the day’s program has become a political event. It is unacceptable to honor in this way a state that holds a population of 2 million in a ghetto and fires on the crowd when this population attempts to escape its trap.

However… the program is being held just one month after the bloody repression by the Israeli army of the March of Return in Gaza left more than 120 dead and 13000 wounded->]. The list of those killed by Israel snipers includes numerous [civilians, children, journalists, and medical personnel. The Academy of Science cannot be unaware of this.

However… this program is being organized in collaboration with the Israeli Academy of Science and Humanities, not one of of whose 124 members belongs to the substantial Arab minority of the Israeli population.

However … the Technion is taking part in the organization of the day’s program. This university cooperates closely with the Israeli military-industrial complex, specifically with Elbit Systems and Rafael Advanced Systems, in designing driverless military vehicles and bulldozers, drones, methods for detecting tunnels, surveillance systems for the security wall, and night-vision systems. In this way the Technion — the Israeli university with the highest proportion of past or present military personnel and reservists among its students and faculty — contributes to military operations against the Palestinian people, and to the ongoing settlement process.

However … the French university and high school students who wish to participate in these meetings had to send a letter of motivation before March 30, according to information published on the website of the French Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science and that seems not to have been publicized on the French Academy of Science website. A jury, whose membership has not been made public, was supposed to choose some 50 students among the applicants. It is reasonable to wonder about the social and political diversity of those students who were selected.

However … to be a Nobel laureate is not incompatible with holding deeply racist ideas, as a number of unfortunate examples have shown in the past. And indeed, one of the speakers listed for the morning of June 19, 2018 is a prominent member of the extreme right-wing group “Professors for a Strong Israel,” which defends the reinforcement of Israel’s Jewish character and is opposed to the Oslo accords. He bitterly criticized the withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 and belonged to the inner circle of academics who fought for to grant the status of Israeli university to Ariel College, located in the occupied territories. Quite an example for students!

All this leaves us with the impression that the June 19 program is an exercise in political propaganda in support of Israel. We, university professors and researchers, call on the Academy of Science to take a stand by cancelling the program. The fact that the day’s program has been planned for a long time and is scheduled less than a week from now is not an excuse. The Argentine football team was able to cancel a game, an event with a considerably higher media profile.

The association of academics for the respect of international law in Palestine (AURDIP)