Science minister harms Israeli interests, claims head of universities

"A minister...sacrifices the interests of the State of Israel on the altar of politics and the entire position of the Israeli academia," wrote Chairman of the Union of Universities in Israel.

July 9, 2018 19:44
1 minute read.
JPost Annual Conference 2017

Ofir Akunis at the JPost Annual Conference 2017 . (photo credit: SIVAN FARAG)


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The Chairman of the Union of Universities in Israel Professor Yosef Klapter appealed to the prime minister to override the minister of science and appoint a leading scientist who allegedly approves of 'refuseniks,' individuals who refuse to serve in the IDF for conscientious reasons.

"A minister who is trusted with the [field of] science...sacrifices the interests of the State of Israel on the altar of politics and the entire position of the Israeli academia," wrote the Chairman of the Union of Universities Professor Yosef Klapter in a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent on Monday. "[He is] risking millions of euros which are meant to reach [the hands] of Israeli scholars and scientists," warned Klapter.

Minister of Science Ofir Akunis refused to approve Professor Yael Amitai to serve in a joint Israeli-German committee dealing with science research and development since Amitai, a leading brain scientist, signed a petition in support of Israelis refusing to serve in the IDF because of the various missions the IDF carries out in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Amiti says she never expressed such an opinion, stating she believes Israelis should serve in the IDF in any position as long as it's within the 1967 borders of the country. 

However, Akunis claimed that Amitai was not denied the position due to her views. "Even points of view I disagree with are legitimate," said the minister, "until we come to actively calling [on Israelis] to refuse [army service]."

Amitai serves as the head of Inter-Faculty Brain Sciences School at Ben-Gurion University. She was tapped by the Ministry of Science in June to serve on the German-Israeli committee until it was found out she allegedly signed a public letter supporting 'refuseniks' in 2005. At this point Akunis refused to grant her the position. 

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