Israel's most recent Nobel laureate, Professor Ada Yonath, refused to sign a Nobel laureate petition which calls for opposition to an academic boycott of Israel.
Many were surprised to find her name missing from the list. On Sunday she clarified that she is opposed to any and all boycotts, saying "it only gives others ideas".
"I am against boycotts in general, boycotts against us as well as anything and everything that can be boycotted", Yonath told Ynet. "Problems should be solved by talking and not in an aggressive manner. I didn't want to sign the petition because I thought that the issue of an academic boycott was marginal and nearly non-existent."
According to the 2009 chemistry Nobel laureate, "those who speak of boycotts against Israel are from far flung universities and, by publishing petitions, people actually enhance the power behind the boycott and give other people ideas".
"I am very much against boycotts, but my fears over the massive echo that will be ignited in the media in light of the petition will awaken something which is considered minor in the academic world," she said.
The petition which Yonath refused to sign states, "We, the undersigned Nobel Laureates, appeal to students, faculty colleagues and university officials to defeat and denounce calls and campaigns for boycotting, divestment and sanctions against Israeli academics, academic institutions and university-based centers and institutes for training and research affiliated with Israel."
Among the signatories are 1986 Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel, Nobel Physics laureate Andre Geim of Manchester University and of course, Israelis Avram Hershko, Israel Uman and Aharon Chechanover.
In contrast to Yonath, Chairperson of the Committee of University Heads Professor Rivka Carmi of Ben Gurion University welcomed the initiative. "This is a declaration from the world's scientific greats which can significantly strengthen the international standing of Israeli universities", she noted.
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