By Yitzhak Benhorin, Ynetnews.com – 6 May 2010
Senior academics from Tel Aviv University, Weizmann Institute, and other top institutions around world denounce Boston Science Museum’s sponsorship of Israeli exhibit, calling it propaganda campaign. ‘This is an attempt to distract from Israel’s war crimes and human rights violations,’ they say.
WASHINGTON – Professors from Tel Aviv University and the Weizmann Institute have signed a letter along with other academics world-wide denouncing Boston’s Museum of Science for co-sponsoring and hosting a week-long exhibit surveying ground-breaking Israeli innovations and inventions in the fields of clean energy, medicine, and technology.
The academics claim that the exhibit, known as Israel Innovation Week (IIW), is an Israeli attempt to “deflect attention from its atrocious human rights record and fundamentally discriminatory policies.”
The museum, which is considered one of the most highly regarded in the US, opened the exhibit on Sunday with an event attended by many members of the city’s heavy-hitting academic community. Many were also invited to speak alongside Israeli experts.
The exhibit included displays on Better Place, an Israeli company responsible for manufacturing electric vehicles and displays presented by the Foreign Ministry detailing its agricultural aid programs offered to developing countries.
However, this display of Israeli pride was received with little enthusiasm among some members of the academia, including Jewish linguist Noam Chomsky, and faculty members hailing from Israeli institutes of higher education – Dr. Kobi Snitz from the Weizmann Institute of Science, Prof. Rachel Giora and Dr. Anat Matar, bother from Tel Aviv University.
“IIW is far from an innocent educational endeavor. It is part of a propaganda campaign by the State of Israel to present itself as a beacon of progress in a desert of backwardness and deflect attention from its atrocious human rights record and fundamentally discriminatory policies,” the letter claimed.
Exhibit at the Boston Museum of Science (Photo: Nir Landau)
The letter protested the show of Israeli technology in part because it is, according to the signatories, inseparable from what they call Israel’s aggression.
For instance, they labeled the Technion, a source of many of Israel’s technological innovations, “an institution with a long track record of developing technologies of death used by Israel’s military. These include remote-controlled bulldozers for demolishing Palestinian homes and drones for picking off Palestinians from the air.”
The letter blasted Better Place, the electric vehicle project initiated by Shai Agassi, for hiring “Maj. Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky, who oversaw the indiscriminate flooding of southern Lebanon with cluster bombs in 2006, as CEO of its Israel branch.”
The letter concluded: “Science and technology should be used to benefit humanity, not to destroy it. IIW represents a betrayal of this principle. As concerned scientists, we condemn this misuse of science and technology to serve the public relations machine of the State of Israel.”
The Consul General of Israel to New England Nadav Tamir responded to the letter: “From our perspective, this is proof of the event’s success and the importance of such an exhibit in a location so central to science and technology.”