We Jews have been awarded more than 100 times the number of Nobel Prizes that the size of the global Jewish population would lead one to expect. This week Jews shared in every Nobel awarded (as we went to press) — in medicine, physics and chemistry.
Tempting as it is to calculate the demographic odds against this year’s near clean sweep, there is much more to this story than the astonishing numbers. Two of the winning professors, Francois Englert and Michael Levitt, are Holocaust survivors. Their ascendancy from the clutches of the Nazis to the pinnacle of scientific achievement is, in a sense, the story of Israel itself.
Three of them either work in or have emerged from Israeli research labs. And since the world has acknowledged that their discoveries are important for all of humanity, perhaps it will recognise the importance of Israel to the world, too.
President Peres has said that science and technology are the key the future “identity and existence” of the Jewish state. On that basis, after this week’s Nobel announcements they look pretty secure.