"The new BDS site demonstrates what the world stands to lose from cutting off ties to Israel’s scientists and their discoveries."
Jeffrey Sussman, Vice President, Marketing Communications & Public Affairs - American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science
The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement aims to exert political pressure by marginalizing and ostracizing Israel, including its products and its universities. In response, one of the world’s leading scientific research institutions is raising awareness of Israel’s contributions to wider knowledge and breakthroughs that benefit people across the globe. The Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, recently launched a website that puts a positive spin on the BDS acronym: “Building Dialogue through Science.”
The new BDS site demonstrates what the world stands to lose from cutting off ties to Israel’s scientists and their discoveries. Visitors will find a history section highlighting Israeli-international scientific collaborations dating back to the days of Dr. Chaim Weizmann, the renowned chemist who founded the Institute and served as the nation’s first President. They can also browse various areas of research in which Weizmann scientists have partnered with leading universities and institutions outside of Israel. In addition, there’s a section featuring the people behind the science, as well as information on recent publications. From mapping the genome of a deadly cancer with biologists in China to observing a rare stellar explosion with astrophysicists in California, Israeli scientists play a crucial role in the worldwide exchange of knowledge and ideas.
Research thrives on the meeting of different worldviews
Beyond advancing science, Israel’s international research collaborations are vital on other important fronts. “When scientists cooperate in their research, they bring back to their countries an understanding of the ways people can work together, including respect for other cultures and a desire for peaceful coexistence,” explained Prof. Daniel Zajfman, President of the Weizmann Institute. Thus, the website also illustrates how partnerships in science have improved diplomatic relations. For example, contacts between Israeli and German researchers paved the way to normalization of relations between the two countries. In this way, the Institute views science as a common language that should be utilized to unite, rather than divide, people of different backgrounds. “Our goal is to promote … this sharing across borders,” the site states, “to create the basis – person by person and research group by research group – for peaceful communication, trade, and even friendship between countries.”
Prof. Zajfman emphasizes that this doesn’t mean collaborators must always come to a consensus—in science or in politics. In fact, he says, “Research thrives on the meeting of different worldviews, and it is important to preserve that freedom to meet and discuss, even with those with whom we don’t always agree.” For this reason, Israeli researchers engage in partnerships with colleagues of many nationalities, faiths, and political persuasions. For instance, the SESAME project, highlighted on the website, is a unique research facility located in Jordan, serving scientists from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, and elsewhere in the Middle East. “Science does not belong, in any conceivable sense, to any ‘side,’ and when two scientists meet, they meet as equals,” Prof. Zajfman added.
While the goal of the other BDS is to isolate Israel, the Weizmann Institute’s purpose is to do just the opposite—to build bridges rather than walls. Whether this means long-term partnerships between labs on different continents or the exchange of students, these alliances have made a difference in innumerable ways—from lifesaving medical treatments to cutting-edge technologies. The “Building Dialogue through “Science” website makes a compelling case that alienating the country within the global scientific community would not only harm Israel, but people everywhere.
Jeffrey Sussman is the Vice President, Marketing Communications & Public Affairs – American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science
Israel BDS – building dialogue through science – aims to promote the kind of international collaboration that can lead to true understanding between people. Israel BDS stands for the free and open exchange of ideas among scientists everywhere. By reporting on the benefits of Israeli-international scientific research and the web of connections that these scientists create around the world, Israel BDS takes a vibrant approach to highlighting the global necessity of continued international scientific collaboration.