BDS Fail: HUJ Palestinian Students Urged Princeton Neuroscientist to Withdraw from Seminar

13.01.22

Editorial Note 

Dr. Ahmed El Hady, an Egyptian postdoctoral fellow of Neuroscience at Princeton University, has lectured last week on Zoom to the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences (ELSC) at the Hebrew University. The lecture was titled “Functional ultrasound imaging during behavior,” explaining that “Functional ultrasound imaging (fUSi) is an emerging technique that allows us to measure neural activity from medial frontal regions down to subcortical structures up to a depth of 20 mm.”  

However, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) used the opportunity to harass Dr. El-Hady and urged him not to participate in the lecture.  PACBI was notified of the lecture by Palestinian students at the Hebrew University. PACBI wrote, “We echo the call from Palestinian students at Hebrew University urgently requesting that you cancel your participation in the ‘ELSC Seminar Series’ this Thursday. As the student activists noted, Israeli universities, including Hebrew University, have long played a willing and active role in planning, implementing and justifying Israel’s decades-old regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid.”  

Worth noting that in this case, the BDS efforts failed. Elhady has also collaborated with the Hebrew University scientists before. In 2014, El Hady, then at the Max Planck Campus, Göttingen, Germany, co-organized a workshop named “NeuroBridges,” aimed to “serve as a bridge between experimental and theoretical neuroscientists addressing system-level questions.” By holding such workshops, they were seeking to establish many new collaborations. He and his co-organizers wrote of NeuroBridges, that “we believe that scientists have a responsibility, which goes beyond their own research. Scientists should promote common understanding between people from different nations. Therefore, the workshop will bring together Israeli, German and Arab scientists.”  Furthermore, they wrote, “We believe that such scientific collaborations can lead to personal relations, and in the long run may alleviate the political distress between Arabs and Israelis. We foresee this event as the first workshop in an annual tradition aimed at fostering scientific collaborations between Israeli and Arab neuroscientists.” His Israeli co-organizer was Yonatan Loewenstein from the Hebrew University. 

In September 2015, the following year, the academic journal Science reported an event that twenty neuroscientists from Israel and the Arab world gathered for dinner at a Left Bank bistro in Paris. The scientists assembled at the Paris Descartes University for a 3-day meeting that sought to foster relationships across the political and religious divide in the Middle East as part of NeuroBridges. It grew from the friendship between El Hady and his Israeli colleague Loewenstein of the ELSC at the Hebrew University.

After they met in Germany, Loewenstein invited El Hady to an ELSC retreat in Ein Gedi, an oasis near the Dead Sea in Israel. During a hike in the area, they agreed that “science could bring more researchers together, both professionally and personally.” 

However, most of the Arab participants, like El Hady, live in Western countries, to which El Hady said, “The mood in most Arab countries is fervently anti-Israel, and scientists there could face a political price for attending NeuroBridges.” Adding that since “Academics are the most reasonable people… If we cut off contact with them, we lose the last resort.”

Worth noting that Palestinian scientists refused to participate in NeuroBridges. 

Although Palestinian students in Israel, like all other Israeli students, have the right to academic freedom, advocating for BDS is illegal under the 2011 Israeli Boycott Law, which the Knesset enacted:

“Bill for prevention of damage to the State of Israel through boycott – 2011,” defines that “1. In this law, “boycott of the State of Israel” – deliberate avoidance of economic, cultural or academic ties with a person or other party, solely for reason of his/her/its relation to the state of Israel, to any of its institutions or to any area under its control, which could cause them economic, cultural or academic harm. Boycott – a civil wrong 2. (a) Anyone who publishes a public call for a boycott of the state of Israel, and its content and circumstances may reasonably be expected to lead to a boycott, and the publisher is aware of this possibility – is committing a civil wrong and the Law of Tort [new version] shall apply to him/her.”

The Hebrew University should be aware of the BDS action of its students. 

Clearly, the academy is the most active arena for delegitimizing Israel, and the Israeli academic authorities should help fight the delegitimization. 

As for the Palestinians, by boycotting all things Israeli, they cut themselves off the thriving global academic community in which Israel has a prominent role.

References:

https://elsc.huji.ac.il/events-and-outreach/elsc-seminars/elsc-seminar-series/functional-ultrasound-imaging-during-behavior/

ELSC Seminar Series

Home » ELSC Seminar Series » Functional ultrasound imaging during behavior

Dr. Ahmed El-Hady

Princeton University
Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Functional ultrasound imaging during behavior

The dream of a systems neuroscientist is to be able to unravel neural mechanisms that give rise to behavior. It is increasingly appreciated that behavior involves the concerted distributed activity of multiple brain regions so the focus on single or few brain areas might hinder our understanding. There have been quite a few technological advancements in this domain. Functional ultrasound imaging (fUSi) is an emerging technique that allows us to measure neural activity from medial frontal regions down to subcortical structures up to a depth of 20 mm. It is a method for imaging transient changes in cerebral blood volume (CBV), which are proportional to neural activity changes. It has excellent spatial resolution (~100 μm X 100 μm X 400 μm); its temporal resolution can go down to 100 milliseconds. In this talk, I will present its use in two model systems:  marmoset monkeys and rats. In marmoset monkeys, we used it to delineate a social – vocal network involved in vocal communication while in rats, we used it to gain insights into brain wide networks involved in evidence accumulation based decision making. fUSi has the potential to provide an unprecedented access to brain wide dynamics in freely moving animals performing complex behavioral tasks.

Seminar Date & Time:

January 6th, 202214:30 (IST)Notifications and Zoom links are sent to ELSC seminar mailing list, subscribe here.
Providing full name is mandatory for joining Zoom. 

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https://bdsmovement.net/news/palestinians-urge-dr-ahmed-el-hady-withdraw-from-hebrew-university-seminar
Palestinians Urge Dr. Ahmed El-Hady to Withdraw from Hebrew University Seminar January 5, 2022 / By Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) /

Following the letter from Palestinian Students at Hebrew University, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) urges Dr. El-Hady not to participate in event at complicit Israeli university partially built on stolen Palestinian land in occupied East Jerusalem.

Dear Dr. Ahmed El-Hady,

We are writing from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), a founding member of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) National Committee, the largest coalition in Palestinian civil society. 

We echo the call from Palestinian students at Hebrew University urgently requesting that you cancel your participation in the “ELSC Seminar Series” this Thursday.

As the student activists noted, Israeli universities, including Hebrew University, have long played a willing and active role in planning, implementing and justifying Israel’s decades-old regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid. 

Hebrew University is partially built on stolen Palestinian  land in occupied East Jerusalem, in violation of international law. The university has joined legal actions to forcibly displace Palestinians to allow for campus expansion.

Hebrew University also hosts the Israeli military’s Havatzalot program, effectively a military base on campus that includes combat training. 

Hebrew University has also hosted recruitment events for Shin Bet, Israel’s notorious domestic intelligence agency. Shin Bet has been condemned by the UN Committee Against Torture over its use of violent interrogation tactics on Palestinians. 

The Israeli organization Academia for Equality has documented Hebrew University’s active cooperation with Israeli occupation forces subjecting residents of the adjoining Palestinian neighborhood of Issawiya in occupied East Jerusalem to “unrelenting and unfathomable police brutality,” including lending its rooftops to Israeli police for mass surveillance of Palestinians.  

As you may know, in 2021, Human Rights Watch and Israel’s leading human rights organization B’Tselem issued separate reports condemning Israel as an apartheid state against the entire Palestinian people. Israeli universities, including Hebrew University, are a crucial part of Israel’s apartheid apparatus.

Regardless of your intentions, participating in the ELSC Seminar Series at Hebrew University would help whitewash Israel’s apartheid regime and its grave violations of international law, including war crimes, gradual ethnic cleansing, home demolitions, expanding settlement enterprise, and administrative detention of political prisoners. 

At a time when academics and academic associations worldwide are increasingly refraining from any engagement with Israel’s universities, including Hebrew University, for their deep, decades-long complicity in apartheid and settler-colonialism, we ask you not to be a part of the ongoing normalization of these complicit institutions. We call on you to urgently withdraw from this seminar series.

Sincerely,

Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)

========================================================
https://www.facebook.com/A4PConcordia/posts/1528313957548961

Academics for Palestine – Concordia

5 January at 17:42  · 

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement

5 January at 17:18 

We echo the call from Palestinian students urging Dr. Ahmed El Hady to withdraw from Hebrew University seminar series.Hebrew University is partially built on stolen Palestinian land in occupied East Jerusalem, hosts an Israeli military base on campus and actively cooperates with Israeli forces oppressing Palestinians. Regardless of intentions, participating in the seminar series at Hebrew University would help whitewash Israel’s apartheid regime and its grave violations of international law, including war crimes, gradual ethnic cleansing, home demolitions, expanding settlement enterprise, and administrative detention of political prisoners. https://loom.ly/d0Dddsk
=======================================================

https://pni.princeton.edu/news/pni-postdoc-ahmed-el-hadys-neurobridges-program-brings-arab-and-israeli-neuroscientists-together

PostedJun 032016

PNI Postdoc Ahmed El Hady’s “NeuroBridges” program brings Arab and Israeli neuroscientists together

NeuroBridges is a series of meetings that brings together brain scientists from Israel and the Arab world in hopes of fostering relationships across the political and religious fault lines that divide the Middle East. It grew from the friendship between Ahmed El Hady, an Egyptian neuroscientist at Princeton University, and his Israeli colleague Yonatan Loewenstein of the Edmond & Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Science sat in on the second NeuroBridges meeting, held in September 2015 in Paris, where discussions about the Middle East were animated but the mood was friendly. 

=================================================================

https://www.science.org/doi/full/10.1126/science.352.6290.1161

Gatherings aim to bridge a wide divide

MARTIN ENSERINKSCIENCE • 3 Jun 2016 • Vol 352, Issue 6290 • p. 1161

When 20 neuroscientists from Israel and the Arab world gathered for dinner at a Left
Bank bistro here in September 2015, it didn’t take long for the conversation to turn
from duck breast to the Middle East—and for the temperature to rise. The researchers,
including two Palestinians, bickered over the Iran nuclear deal, the war in Syria,
and, of course, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “The two-state solution is dead!” one
Arab scientist argued. “We need to think about a one-state model.” “That will never
work!” an Israeli colleague shot back. As the evening wore on, the debates got more
animated and louder.
The scientists didn’t solve any problems that night, but at least they were talking—
and that was the point.
They had assembled at Paris Descartes University for a 3-day meeting that sought
to foster relationships across the political and religious fault lines dividing the
Middle East. NeuroBridges, as it’s called, is one of several science diplomacy efforts
focused on the region; the most ambitious is SESAME, a synchrotron light source
in Jordan expected to come online in 2017 that involves nine unlikely bedfellows,
including Turkey, Israel, the Palestinian National Authority, Iran, and Pakistan.
NeuroBridges grew from the friendship between Ahmed El Hady, an Egyptian
neuroscientist at Princeton University, and his Israeli colleague Yonatan
Loewenstein of the Edmond & Lily Safra Center for
Brain Sciences (ELSC) at the Hebrew University of
Jerusalem. After they met in Germany, Loewenstein
invited El Hady to an ELSC retreat in Ein Gedi, an
oasis near the Dead Sea in Israel. During a hike, the
duo agreed that science could bring more researchers
together, both professionally and personally. The
first NeuroBridges, later that year at the University
of Göttingen in Germany, came at an awkward time:
3 weeks into the 2014 Gaza war.
Science sat in on the 2015 successor, in a monumental Parisian university hall
adorned with tapestries woven for King Louis XIV. After an unusual preamble describing
their own geographical, religious, or political background, attendees presented
their work, which spanned a range of neuroscience areas. The mood was friendly.
“We really need opportunities for dialogue like this,” says Mehdi Khamassi, a
French-Tunisian researcher at the Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris, who
noted that relations between Arabs and Jews in France have deteriorated rapidly:
“We seem to have imported the conflict from the Middle East.” (The meeting took
place 2 months before the 13 November 2015 terrorist attacks here.)
Like El Hady, almost all of the Arab participants live and work in Western countries.
The mood in most Arab countries is fervently anti-Israel, and scientists there
could face a political price for attending NeuroBridges, El Hady says. Mohammad
Herzallah, who heads the Palestinian Neuroscience Initiative, has declined an
invitation twice (see main story, p. 1158).
Critics of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian Territories say that meetings
like NeuroBridges fail to address the root issue. A mostly scientific meeting that
doesn’t focus on problems faced by Palestinian academics contributes to the
“normalization” of the occupation, says Jonathan Rosenhead, chair of the British
Committee for the Universities of Palestine in London and an advocate of an
academic boycott of Israel. El Hady disagrees. “Academics are the most reasonable
people,” he says. “If we cut off contact with them, we lose the last resort.”
This year’s NeuroBridges will be at a chateau in Burgundy, France, in September.
To reach a wider and younger audience, it will be a 10-day summer school in
computational neuroscience. Can such meetings bring peace in the Middle East
any closer? “To be honest, this is not a question that concerns me very much,”
Loewenstein says after a very long pause. “The question I ask myself is what I can
personally do to improve the situation.” 

===========================================
https://elsc.huji.ac.il/events-and-outreach/conferences/neurobridges-2014/

NeuroBridges 2014

Where

The Max Planck Campus, Göttingen, Germany, July 29-31 2014

Organizers:
Ahmed El Hady (Max Planck Institute)
Tim Gollisch (Göttingen University)
Yonatan Loewenstein (Hebrew University)

The goal of this workshop is to serve as a bridge between experimental and theoretical neuroscientists addressing system-level questions with the hope of establishing as many as possible new collaborations.

In addition to the scientific exchange goal, we believe that scientists have a responsibility, which goes beyond their own research. Scientists should promote common understanding between people from different nations. Therefore, the workshop will bring together Israeli, German and Arab scientists. We believe that such scientific collaborations can lead to personal relations, and in the long run may alleviate the political distress between Arabs and Israelis.

We foresee this event as the first workshop in an annual tradition aimed at fostering scientific collaborations between Israeli and Arab neuroscientists.
Lectures are open for the public and there is no registration fee but space is limited. Therefore, those planning to attend are kindly requested to send an email to inform the local organizer Ahmed El Hady (aelhady1 at gwdg.de).

Program (PDF)
For more information: aelhady1 at gwdg.de, yonatan at huji.ac.il

https://bio.huji.ac.il/yonatanLab/newsite/site.html

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