Say No to Israeli PR Gimmicks!

Quite extraordinarily, the Science Museum in London and the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry have both been made available (on 3 and 5 March respectively) for an event called “Israel Day of Science”. The museums argue they are not sponsoring the event, but have merely hired out their premises. This subtle distinction is unlikely to be appreciated by the many thousands of all ages and faiths who have repeatedly taken to the streets round the country to protest against Israeli war crimes in Gaza.

The event is promoted by the Zionist Federation and is designed to showcase the scientific achievements of seven Israeli universities. But all of these are complicit in the Israeli occupation and in the policies and weaponry so recently deployed to such disastrous effect in Gaza. To take just one example, Tel Aviv University, in its most recent annual review, states that “the Israel ministry of defence is currently funding 55 projects at TAU”, which “is playing a major role in enhancing Israel’s security capabilities and military edge”. The head of TAU’s security studies programme was a former director of the R&D directorate of the Israel ministry of defence. He holds the rank of major-general in the Israel Defence Forces and is a member of the Knesset.

Israel Day of Science is aimed particularly at sixth-form students, who can be expected to come in parties from schools across the country. What reaction can be expected from the many young people, already disaffected from science, who will associate the science museums with this Israeli public relations exercise? The event is being billed as a celebration of science. In fact it is an attempted celebration of Israel.

In the immediate aftermath of the indiscriminate slaughter and attempted annihilation of all the infrastructure of organised society in Gaza, how can this “celebration” be allowed to borrow some respectability from the use of these distinguished institutions? The museums should cancel these unseemly events.

Charles Jencks, Mairead Maguire, Dr Ian Gibson MP, Walter Hain, Ahdaf Soueif, Professor RS MacKay (Warwick), Reem Kelani (Singer), Karl Sabbagh, Professor Steven Rose (Open University), Sabah Al-Mukhtar (Arab Lawyers Association), Professor Jonathan Rosenhead (LSE), Dr Sue Blackwell (Birmingham), Professor Jim Al-Khalili (Surrey) and 368 others