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Hebrew University

Professor Daniel Amit, a prominent scientist at the universities of Jerusalem and Rome, known for its anti Zionist and anti-American views, passed away on the day of Rabin's assassination. The Israeli media ignored it.

Daniel Amit captured some headlines after the outbreak of the Iraqi war when he refused to review an article for the American journal Physical Review. In a letter to Martin Blume, the editor in Chief of the Physical Society, he wrote bluntly:" I will not, at this point, correspond with any American institution. Some of us lived through 1939".

In the exchange that followed his refusal, he wrote to the stunned editor of his motives. "What we are watching today, I believe, is a culmination of 10 to 15 years of mounting barbarism of the American culture the world over. It is crowned by achievements of science and technology as major weapons of mass destruction". He labeled the war as a "manhunt and wanton killing of a type and scale not seen since the raids on American-Indian population…".

Amit's radical views did not surprise his colleagues in both Israel and Italy, but they caught the attention of the Arab Media. The Saudi owned website Arab News was quick to interview him shortly afterwards without mentioning his Israeli citizenship. but by emphasizing his Jewishness. In that interview Amit attacked American academic and scientific institutions for making themselves available in the service of their country's war machine. He also condemned their "passive attitude" to the war, unlike all major Christian churches. The Americans, for him, were nothing but "technological cowboys" who treat the Iraqi people as if they are in the "Wild West" with total impunity. Similar situation exists, in his view, also in Afghanistan and Palestine. "…It exceeds the horrors that were imagined when every international convention was formulated".

Amit dismissed the suggestion that Iraq under Saddam Hussein was a threat to its neighbors, including Israel and branded it as a "cruel jock". According to him, only the Americans could believe "this type of
propaganda". Amit never missed an opportunity to denounce Israel or the USA. He often argued that the governments in both countries are to be blamed for lack of peace in the Middle East. Time and again he argued that successive Israeli leadership provoked Palestinian violence whenever they sensed that a political settlement is in the horizon.

 Already, during the 70's, he voiced the view that ceasing the occupation
of the West Bank and Gaza is a key to peace in the region. In the 80's he was one of the driving forces behind the activities of the radical left against Israel's policy in the territories. He established the first united movement against the occupation in the shape of the Israeli Committee for Solidarity with Bir Zeit University. On numerous
international platforms he condemned Israel's actions against the
Palestinians and called for an economic boycott. Only last summer he was spotted in the Arab village of Bil'in, celebrating with local residents and anti-fence demonstrators the Israeli Supreme Court against the location of the security fence.

Michael Warschawski, head of the radical-left "Alternative Information Center", recalled his last meeting with Amit in Bil'in. Two weeks ago he noted that the anti-occupation front owed much to his colleague, simply because Amit knew how to operate it. "I doubt very much that this
Committee could have kept its existence and ability to unite thousands of Israelis in action without the central command of Danny Amit''. It was Amit himself who, at the time, summed up his approach to the struggle, by saying that "we need the Communists for the quantity, the anti-Zionists for their activism and the Zionist-Left for their legitimacy". Warschawski is certain that only Amit was capable of linking all those groups

While many young Israelis never heard of him, in Palestinian circles he was a household name. Not surprisingly, when Daniel Amit died at the beginning of November, the Israeli press chose to ignore it. Colleagues, especially it Italy, his second home, mourned his death and his half constructed website is littered with messages of condolences. One of the mourners, Danielle Fargion, noted that Amit died on the day Yizhack Rabin, Israel's former Prime Minister, who was assassinated 12 years ago. Fargion wrote:" Maybe Daniel's life and departure is reminding in a more desperate way to all of us the need of such a heroic sacrifice for the sake of peace efforts".

Amit was a central figure in the development of neural network theory after moving there from the field of statistical mechanics. But he would be forever remembered as an outspoken critic of Israeli-American policy in the Middle East.




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