The odd Nobel couple: one is anti-Israel, the other a supporter

George Smith is not Jewish, but he is a member of the pro-BDS Jewish Voices for Peace and has written for an anti-Israel website.

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October 3, 2018 14:42
1 minute read.

Nobel Chemistry Prize rewards 'revolution based on evolution', October 10, 2018 (Reuters)

Nobel Chemistry Prize rewards 'revolution based on evolution', October 10, 2018 (Reuters)

Two of the three winners of this year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry have virtually polar opposite political connections to Israel: One is actively anti-Israel, while the other promotes ties between Israel and the UK.

George Smith from the University of Missouri is a staunch critic of Israel and a member of the Jewish Voice for Peace, a left-wing activist organization that supports boycotting Israel.

The Anti-Defamation League characterizes the JVP as “a radical anti-Israel activist group that... [extends] its boycott agenda to include not just Israel but its American supporters as well” and “has the effect of perpetuating the classic anti-Jewish stereotype of Jews as self-centered elitists.” The ADL also says JVP gives cover to antisemitism.

Smith is not Jewish, but his bio on the Mondoweiss website states: “My wife is Jewish and our sons are bar mitzvahed, and I’m very engaged with Jewish culture and politics.”

Mondoweiss is an anti-Israel site that regularly compares Israel’s behavior to that of the Nazis and actively engages in denying the Jewish people’s historic connection to Israel. Smith wrote five articles for the site in the years 2012 to 2017, all of which are related to Israel.

Sir Gregory Winter, another chemistry Nobel winner, is a member of the UK-Israel Science Council, which brings people from both countries together.

The council is made up of 25 scientists from the UK and Israel, and says that its central goal is “to improve science collaboration between the two countries.” Prof. Ada Yonath, who won a Nobel in chemistry in 2009, is a former member of the council.

The two are sharing the prize with Frances Arnold of the California Institute of Technology, who visited Israel in June for a government-funded chemistry conference in Jerusalem.

The trio won for harnessing the power of evolution to produce novel proteins used in everything from environmentally friendly detergents and biofuels to cancer drugs. The fruits of their work include the world’s top-selling prescription medicine – the antibody injection Humira sold by AbbVie for treating rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases.

Arnold, only the fifth woman to ever win a chemistry Nobel, was awarded half of the nine million Swedish crown ($1 million) prize, while fellow winners Smith and Winter shared the other half.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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