Swedish boycotters criticised for targeting Israeli scientists

By Jennifer Lipman, October 6, 2011
Daniel Shechtman

Daniel Shechtman

A US human rights organisation has called on a group of Swedish academics who are publicly boycotting Israel to change their minds in the wake of the awarding of a Nobel Prize to an Israeli scientist.

Daniel Shechtman was named this year's Nobel Laureate for Chemistry on Wednesday for his discovery of quasicrystals, a finding that went against established scientific consensus.

Prof Shechtman, the head of the Technion Institute in Haifa's Wolfson Centre, was born in Tel Aviv.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Centre, said it was a wonderful moment for the professor, the Technion and all "the entire house of Israel".

But he said the award, given to Prof Schechtman by The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, marked a striking contrast with the 218 Swedish professors, lecturers and students who this week voiced support for an end to academic cooperation between Swedish and Israeli educational institutions.

Among the existing partnerships is one between Sweden's Royal Institute of Technology and the Technion.

Rabbi Cooper said: "The real losers of these functionally antisemitic anti-Israel boycotters will be Swedish academia and Middle East moderates committed to peace and truth itself."

Prof Shechtman's achievement was praised by President Shimon Peres, who called him Israel's "crown jewel".

"The fact that this is the third Nobel Prize in Chemistry for Technion researchers in eight years is a clear indicator of the world-class research being done here," added Technion President Peretz Lavie.

Last updated: 12:28pm, October 6 2011