(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
President Reuven Rivlin and Education Minister Naftali Bennett presented five $100,000 awards to seven leading US scientists and one artist by at the Knesset on Sunday.
Bennett is the chairman of the Wolf Foundation, whose awards are considered “Israel’s Nobel Prizes.”
In agriculture, it was awarded to Prof. Linda Saif of the Ohio State University for advancing animal and human health through research in virology and immunology.
In physics, it was shared by Prof. James Bjorken from Stanford University for predicting scaling in deep inelastic scattering, leading to identification of pointlike constituents of nucleons (particles of an atom’s nucleus); and Prof. Robert Kirshner from Harvard University for forging the path to supernova cosmology through his observations and insights. The mathematics prize was awarded to Prof. James Arthur of University of Toronto for his monumental work on the trace formula and his fundamental contributions to the theory of automorphic representations of reductive groups.
The prize in medicine was awarded to Prof. John Kappler and Prof. Philippa Marrack of the National Jewish Health Hospital in Denver and to Prof. Jeffrey Ravetch of Rockefeller University for advancing the understanding of the molecular basis of the immune response.
In arts, it was awarded to the American pianist Murray Perahia for his “thrilling and sincere interpretation of music and his influence on the new generation.”
Rivlin related in his speech to the calls abroad to enact a boycott of Israeli academic and research institutions.
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“The global scientific community must quash as a matter of urgency, attempts to politicize science,” he said.
“These boycotts are an affront to the principle of academic freedom and a disaster for science. Those who boycott science and the arts in Israel, negate scientific and artistic independence, and reduce scientific endeavors to a political agenda. The loss of academic criteria, in the place of judgment and punishment on the basis of ethnicity, religion or political view, will do untold harm to science, humanities and social sciences.”
The president concluded: “The award recipients, in coming here, are living proof that science and the arts stand above all boycotts.
You demonstrate that there are no borders to the study of humanities when for the sake of humanity. As a servant to the public, to servants of the public, I want to thank you for your tremendous work, for our children and grandchildren, and for all you have contributed to the building of the great spirit of mankind.”
Bennett added: “One of my first missions is to promote, advance and foster Israel’s innovative capabilities and character. I want to ensure that every Israeli child – from Dimona to Kiryat Shmona and Hadera to Modi’in – will have access to the tools needed to make their dreams come true.”
Over one-third of all Wolf Prize recipients have gone on to win a Nobel Prize in the fields of science honored by both prizes (medicine, physics and chemistry).
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