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Boycott Calls Against Israel
Scientists Protest Against the 50th International Physics Olympiad in July in Tel Aviv University

06.06.19

Editorial Note

 The 50th International Physics Olympiad (IPhO) 2019, is taking place on July 7-15, 2019 in Tel Aviv. The IPhO 2019 is organized in collaboration with Tel Aviv University's Faculty of Exact Sciences and the Ministry of Education.

 The IPhO is an annual international physics competition for secondary school students aimed to enhance the development of international contacts in the field of school education in physics. The first IPhO was held in Warsaw (Poland) in 1967 to create an event which prizes the knowledge in physics of the best students around the world. Participating countries take a turn in hosting the IPhO, an event which is typically organized by the Ministry of Education, the local Physical Society or another appropriate institution of the country where the competition is being held.  The competition lasts for two days, one devoted to theoretical problems, and the other to experimental problems, with at least one full day of rest in between. 

 Like all international events in recent years, the competition which is due to be hosted in Israel next month is provoking a barrage of opposition and protests by the Palestinians and their allies.  This time, twenty scientists from various universities around the world, including Prof. George P. Smith, the 2018 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, wrote an open letter to the organizers to protest against holding it in Israel.

 The letter explains that the event is promoted by the "denial of Palestinian human rights, including the right to education."   The group of scientists claims that "Under the present circumstances, citizens of many countries are de facto excluded from entering Israel and attending the IPhO, not to mention Palestinian students from the West Bank and Gaza... The people in Gaza live under a harsh blockade, students and academics cannot leave even if they have a scholarship to study abroad. The people in the West Bank live under military occupation, and are routinely detained by Israeli forces."  To prove their point the group of scientists provides one-sided reports from Haaretz and B’Tselem.  

 They end their letter with a plea: "We call on all students and mentors from all over the world not to participate to the next International Physics Olympiad in Israel and to stand for Human rights of the young Palestinian pupils and students, including their right to education. We call on the boards of other International Science Olympiads to refrain from organizing their future contests in Israel, as long as it continues its military occupation and apartheid policy, in defiance of international law." 

 As often the case, among the signatories are two Israelis: Emmanuel Farjoun, Professor of Mathematics, Hebrew University; and, Dror Warschawski, Biophysicist, Research Associate at the National Center for Scientific Research, Paris, and at Université du Québec à Montréal.

 The group of scientists ignores the fact that members of the Olympiad include countries such as Iran, Kuwait, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Syria, among others. By singling out Israel alone and ignoring countries with a far worse record of abusing human rights, the group of scientists follows in the footsteps of anti-Israeli activists who perfected the tactics of double standards.  The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism holds that such double standards amount to anti-Semitism. 

 Interestingly, Prof. Farjoun, one of the signatories, is a long-time activist of the radical anti-Zionist group Matzpen. Another signatory is Prof. Dror Warschawski, the son of Michel Warschawski, another long-time Matzpen activist.  While the virulently anti-Israel group Matzpen disbanded decades ago, its message has been propagated by academic-activists around the globe.   

 




https://imemc.org/article/scientists-protest-holding-international-physics-olympiad-in-israel-over-its-denial-of-palestinian-right-to-education/  

Scientists Protest Holding International Physics Olympiad in Israel over Its Denial of Palestinian Right to Education

 June 4, 2019 5:49 PM  IMEMC News & Agencies

Twenty scientists, including the 2018 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry George P. Smith, wrote an open letter to the organizers of the next International Physics Olympiad to protest against holding the contest in Israel due to its denial of Palestinian human rights, including the right to education.

We the undersigned protest against the organization of the next International Physics Olympiad (IPhO) in Tel Aviv, Israel, from the 7th to the 15th of July 2019.

The organizing committee states that the aim of the International Science Olympiad is to plant « the seeds of cooperation and friendship among students from all over the world ». Under the present circumstances, citizens of many countries are de facto excluded from entering Israel and attending the IPhO, not to mention Palestinian students from the West Bank and Gaza.

As academics and citizens we wish to draw your attention to the serious situation facing Palestinian schoolchildren, students and teachers. The people in Gaza live under a harsh blockade, students and academics cannot leave even if they have a scholarship to study abroad. The people in the West Bank live under military occupation, and are routinely detained by Israeli forces [1] [2]. According to the Military Court Watch, 205 Palestinian children are in detention in Israeli prisons. Among them:

  • Omar Zahran, a highschool student at Deir Abu Masha’al High school for boys, born on 10/10/2002, arrested on 19/11/2018 and jailed in Ofer prison with no judgment yet.
  • Jawad Hdaib, a highschool student at Al Fawwar High School for boys in the refugee camp of Al Fawwar, born on 27/5/2001, arrested on 18/12/2018 and jailed in Ofer prison with no judgment yet.

We call on all students and mentors from all over the world not to participate to the next International Physics Olympiad in Israel and to stand for Human rights of the young Palestinian pupils and students, including their right to education.

We call on the boards of other International Science Olympiads to refrain from organizing their future contests in Israel, as long as it continues its military occupation and apartheid policy, in defiance of international law.

Respectfully,

Ahmed Abbes, mathematician, Research Director at the National Center for Scientific Research, Paris, France.

Arnaud Beauville, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics, Côte d’Azur University, Nice, France.

David Comedi, Professor of Physics at the National University of Tucumán (UNT), Argentina, and Director of the Physics Institute of Northwestern Argentina – INFINOA (CONICET-UNT).

Sophie Cribier, Professor of Physics, Sorbonne University, Paris, France.

Chandler Davis, Professor of Mathematics, University of Toronto, Canada.

Dominique Delande, physicist, Research Director at the National Center for Scientific Research, Paris, France.

Ivar Ekeland, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics and formerly President of University Paris-Dauphine, France.

Emmanuel Farjoun, Professor of Mathematics, Hebrew Univ of Jerusalem, Israel.

Catherine Goldstein, mathematician, Research Director at the National Center for Scientific Research, Paris, France.

Julien Grivaux, Professor of Mathematics, Sorbonne University, Paris, France.

Michael Harris, Professor of Mathematics, Columbia University, New York, USA.

Jean-Marc Lévy-Leblond, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Côte d’Azur University, Nice, France.

Joseph Oesterlé, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics, Sorbonne University, Paris, France.

Vincent Rivasseau, Professor of Physics, University Paris-Sud, Orsay, France

Jonathan Rosenhead, Emeritus Professor of Operational Research, London School of Economics, London, UK.

Lionel Schwartz, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics, University Paris Nord, France.

George P. Smith, Professor Emeritus of Biological Science, University of Missouri, USA, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry 2018.

Sylvain Sorin, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics, Sorbonne University, Paris, France.

Annick Suzor-Weiner, Emeritus Professor of Physics, University Paris-Sud, Orsay, France.

Dror Warschawski, Biophysicist, Research Associate at the National Center for Scientific Research, Paris, France and at Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada.

[1] ” ’Endless Trip to Hell’ : Israel Jails Hundreds of Palestinian Boys a Year. These Are Their Testimonies”, Haaretz, March 16, 2019, by Netta Ahituv (accessible here)

[2] “Unprotected : Detention of Palestinian Teenagers in East Jerusalem”, B’Tselem, October 2017.





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