Can Iran and Israel’s ancient collaborations in science be revived?

"Hundreds of thousands of Iranians of Jewish heritage currently live in Iran, some with, the majority without, Hebrew names."

August 5, 2013 22:34
2 minute read.
Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School in Ein Kerem.

Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School in Ein Kerem 370. (photo credit: Wikicommons)


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For the first time in the history of Jerusalem, a non-Jewish Iranian of Persian heritage was invited to present a scientific topic in two parts.

The first part was delivered in east Jerusalem, at the Palestinian Al-Quds University and the second in West Jerusalem at the Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School in Ein Kerem. Both parts of my presentation were attended by students from both sides of the security wall, organized by the two universities.

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On July 10, I gave the first part of my presentation at 11:30 a.m. at Al- Quds University, then drove with the Jewish and Palestinian students and faculty through the separation wall and presented the second part at 3:30 p.m. at the Hebrew University.

At each university, I finished my talk with a gift of love from Iran, the land of spring. At Al-Quds I read a poem by Rumi (1207-1273) and at the Hebrew University, a poem by Hafez (1325-1390).

Can our ancient collaborations in science be revived? After searching through history, visiting libraries and travelling, still I cannot find a single dark page in the 4,000 year-old Judeo- Persian history.

Indeed, Judeo-Persian history is deep and beautiful. The number of Jews in Iran is underestimated.

Hundreds of thousands of Iranians of Jewish heritage currently live in Iran, some with and the majority without Hebrew names.

After 2,500 years, Esther’s graceful place of rest remains intact.

Esther, a Jewish Queen of the Persians, is buried in Hamadan, Iran.

After 2,600 years, Daniel the Prophet’s magnificent burial-place also remains intact. Daniel is buried in Susa, Iran.

Over the centuries, thousands of Persians, Jewish and non-Jewish alike have given their lives to protect the tombs of Esther and Daniel against their enemies. Persians pay homage to them regularly.

Even though Iran and Israel have never shared a common geographic frontier, over the last 4,000 years scientists and researchers of both nations have repeatedly shown their willingness and commitment to interactive learning and collaboration.

Today, in several scientific disciplines, the two nations have educated the brightest scientists in the world. Their collaboration is the most effective key to prosperity and peace.

Perhaps scientists should replace politicians in the Middle East talks.

In scientific collaborations, the outcome is objectively measured and individuals’ accountabilities are reported. Scientists, unlike politicians, are comfortable with outcome measurement and committed to accountability.

Our ancient collaborations in science must be revived. Iran and Israel’s scientific collaboration is the most effective key to peace and prosperity in shaping the future of the Middle East.

The writer was director of the University of Southern California Advanced Periodontics program (1995-2012), founder of the Taipei Academy of Reconstructive Dentistry in Taiwan and the first non- Jewish Iranian of Persian heritage to be the keynote speaker at the Israel Dental Association Congress in Tel Aviv in 2012.

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