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The French flag flies above the Grand Palais in Paris, France, June 24, 2017..(Photo by: REUTERS/JEAN-PAUL PELISSIER)
French-Israel season continues with Nobel laureates meeting high schoolers
Israel proposed that the season not only include arts and music, but should also focus on technology and high-tech, highlighting Israel’s achievements in fields of science and innovation.
PARIS – Israeli and French Nobel Prize laureates and Fields Medal winners gathered today at the prestigious French Academy of Science in Paris, for an exceptional meeting with French high-school students, including Israeli Nobel Prize winners Ada Yonath, Aaron Ciechanover and Robert Aumman.

The meeting took place in the framework of the France-Israel cross-cultural season, which was launched two weeks ago, in the presence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

When representatives of both countries started discussing the cross-cultural project about two years ago, Israel proposed that the season not only include arts and music, but should also focus on technology and hightech, highlighting Israel’s achievements in fields of science and innovation.

President of the Israeli Science Academy Nili Cohen told The Jerusalem Post that: “Scientific cooperation is important [to have] with every country that [has] made scientific achievements, and France is certainly such a country.

“One of our most important missions at the Israeli Academy is to promote scientific cooperation around the globe, with other academies and important research institutes,” she said.

“The relation we have with the French Academy of Science goes back many years and was recently reinvigorated,” she added. “These ties are important for us. Science knows no boundaries, no boycotts; all scientists speak one language.

And so, it is essential that Israel’s scientific abilities are recognized and that there is willingness on their side to cooperate with us.”

For Cohen, integrating science, innovation and technology into the framework of the cross-cultural season makes a lot of sense. “We value our relations with French science very much,” she said.

“A year ago, when [the French Academy of Science] celebrated [its 350-year anniversary], I was invited here with another 40 heads of academies from around the world and was one of six to be asked to address the audience about computers. They asked me to speak about digitization and employment. All such contacts reinforce these important ties for the benefit of the entire scientific community.”

Nobel Prize laureate in Chemistry Aaron Ciechanover told the Post that: “Israel does not have so many friends around the world.

Science is a great bridge for peace. We talk in an international language; science is never for or against anyone, and here Israeli scientific achievements are much appreciated.”

Prof. Ada Yonath, also a Nobel Prize laureate for Chemistry, said that cooperation with French scientists goes back many years – in her case, even when she was a student. One of her goals in such appearances, she explained, is to encourage the young generation – and especially young women – to enter the world of science.”

Responding to a student’s question, Yonath said that: “Of course you can combine family and science. It is not about balancing but about enjoying both; enjoying your family and enjoying science. Only four women were awarded the Nobel Prize for chemistry so far.

Three of them are no longer alive. So I call you girls, ‘Join us! Join science!’” For Yonath, the most important prize in winning the Nobel was the increased interest of young Israelis in science. “A poll that was conducted in the streets of Tel Aviv several years ago showed that only 9% of young people were interested in science. Two months after I won the Nobel, this number tripled. This is my real victory.”

Prof. Elon Lindenstrauss, a Fields Medal laureate, was also enthusiastic about young people choosing science as their life’s vocation, telling the French students that “for me, mathematics has always been an adventure. The real test is not the achievement or the competition, but whether it is really interesting – if what I do every day at the lab is really exciting.”
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