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Alternative News | 31 March 2015

Israel: science in service of hasbara

The Israeli Foreign Ministry's flagship programme: a World Science Conference – Israel (WSCI) for Nobel Laureates and upcoming, young scientists, scheduled for this coming summer in Jerusalem. Foreign Ministry official: Participants will be opinion-shapers in their countries, conference will strengthen global image of Israel. Ironically, the conference was originally planned for last summer, and was postponed due to Israel's military attack of the Gaza Strip.

Israel's Foreign Ministry has budgeted NIS 5 million for the WSCI, which head of the ministry's public diplomacy unit Yuval Rotem called an opportunity to “expose Israel as a country that promotes innovation and creativity.” Speaking to the Israeli news portal ynet, Rotem added that “The young conference participants are a select group of science geniuses – the best from every country. In this sense, some of them will undoubtedly be public opinion shapers in their countries, and from here the great importance that the ministry attributes to the conference and its contribution to strengthening the image of Israel in the world.”

The WSCI was originally scheduled for 16-21 August last year, but was postponed due to Israel's military attack on the Gaza Strip that summer, in which some 2,200 Palestinians were killed and over 10,800 wounded. An exact date for the WSCI in 2015 has yet to be publicised.

Hebrew University President Menachem Ben Sasson, whose institution will host the conference, is fully on board with the hasbara aims of the WSCI. Speaking to ynet, Ben Sasson stated that “Conduct of the World Science Conference in Israel will represent a fantastic opportunity to deepen the positive image of Israel in the fields of academia and science...I am certain that the Israeli spirit of groundbreaking thought, creativity, education for curiosity, asking questions and expressing doubt will infect the brilliant guests from around the world and advance them on their path to becoming the leading scientists in their countries.”

Professor Roger Kornberg, 2006 Nobel Prize Laureate in chemistry and chairperson of the WSCI's academic committee, said that “the World Science Conference that will be held this year for the first time will represent – so we hope – the beginning of a long-term process that will bring together each year in Jerusalem brilliant students and renowned scientists from throughout the world.”

This is the second world science event that Israel's Foreign Ministry promotes in cooperation with the Hebrew University. In 2012 the Asian Science Camp was held for young scientists, at which then President Shimon Peres said in the opening ceremony that "Your coming to Israel is a call from the future, from the new world based on science - a world that will come into being faster than anyone expects. Each of you 300 students has tremendous potential, and I welcome this important link you are making to Israel, the ultimate start-up and innovative state. The global world is built on cooperation between brilliant individuals, regardless of the nations from which they come. You have come to Israel, the right place to venture, to explore, to imagine and to realize your dreams.”

Posted on 31-03-2015

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